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Slum dwellers’ approach to GBV impress Irish and UK ministers

By Eddie Ssejjoba

Added 5th July 2017 03:12 PM

He said the groups in turn reach out to communities and talk to them through drama and through different approaches on how to avoid violence against women and girls.

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United Kingdom and Irish ministers and embassy officials watch a Ludo game by Ndeeba slum dwellers who use the game to discuss matters of domestic violence. Photos by Eddie Ssejjoba

He said the groups in turn reach out to communities and talk to them through drama and through different approaches on how to avoid violence against women and girls.

Beside the main road in Ndeeba, a Kampala suburb, a group of men cheer and raise their voices in support of colleagues seated on wooden stools, playing Ludo, a board game which is one of the evening favorite entertainment games in the area.

The excitement from those watching and clapping, and the intensity of the four players in the race give a picture the value attached to the game. They seem to ignore the dust and noise from the passing vehicles and smoke from the nearby vendors who fry and roast fish, chicken and chips in the evening roadside market.

The men continue to engage in the game in the night using lights until they retire home, sometimes at midnight.

They chat and discuss a number of topical issues including current affairs, politics, business, sex and other issues.  

Because of its popularity as a unifying game, the Center for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP) has identified the game as a tool to reach out to men and sensitize them on gender-based violence and other programs including fight against HIV/Aids and family planning issues.

Midway the game, trained community activists, who are always part of the game, introduce topics for discussion where they talk about issues of violence against women and girls.   

It is because of the excitement that the visiting United Kingdom (UK) and Irish government ministers and officials from the two high commissions were amused to watch the game when they visited the area on Monday.

McDonald and Niall Burgess, the Irish Aid Secretary General and other officials from the Irish embassy and UK high commission were part of the team that watched the game. 

Sir Simon McDonald, Permanent Undersecretary of State at the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth office told men after watching game and treat their women right.

“It is good to see that Britain and Ireland are helping Uganda to end gender based violence, I appeal to you men who have watched this drama to go home and treat your women right,” he said.

 nited ingdom rish ministers and embassy officials arrive at the deeba ailway arket to watch a drama play by slum dwellers about gender domestic violence on uly 3 2017 United Kingdom, Irish ministers and embassy officials arrive at the Ndeeba Railway Market to watch a drama play by slum dwellers about gender domestic violence on July 3, 2017.

 
The community activists join the men playing and midway the game introduce topics related to gender-based violence or HIV/Aids and let them exchange ideas as they continue to enjoy the game. They warn them against mistreating women and girls.

The two governments, through the Center for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP) finance the training of community leaders including local Council officials, community activists, and traditional marriage counselors popularly known as ssengas (aunties) to sensitize communities against domestic violence.

The team later visited the Ndeeba Railway market where they watched a drama by one of the slum groups that sensitize the community against domestic violence, especially on issues of sex and HIV/Aids.

The drama, staged at the railway line was however halted when a train approached, sending police officers and organizers in panic as they struggled to control the crowd including blocking children from standing near the rails.

“This is a fantastic community effort, we shall continue supporting such community actions to prevent gender-based violence, that is why we came to see how the members are doing it,” said the UK high commissioner, Peter West.

Danal Cronin, the Irish Ambassador to Uganda said that Ireland has invested over 500 million Euros in Uganda since the embassy was opened in 1994. He said the embassy had committed additional 89 million Euros, much of which would reinforce its commitment to support the sector in Karamoja region between 2016 and 2020.

“We have a new plan for Uganda, between now and 2020 where we are investing an additional 89 million Euros and most of it is directed to the region of Karamoja, which is a big focus for us,” Donal said.

From 2005 to 2010, Irish Aid provided budget or sector support worth €38 million (sh147bn) to the education sector in Uganda, which targeted infrastructural improvements, curriculum reform and teacher education in the primary sector, as well as curriculum reform in secondary education.

Through Irish Aid, a total of 11 secondary schools, two teacher training colleges, 21 primary schools have been built and rehabilitated plus 1,500 bursaries to both girls and boys in the Karamoja region.

In partnership with UNICEF, Irish Aid is focusing on improving literacy and numeracy at lower primary level addition to support towards humanitarian assistance to refugees and other projects.     

Other areas which have benefited from Irish Aid include health, social protection, HIV prevention and good governance.

Richard Makumbi, the program officer CEDOVIP said that they get funds from the Irish Aid and UK Department for International Development (DFID) targeting slums in Kampala and communities in various districts where they train groups on gender-based violence.

He said the groups in turn reach out to communities and talk to them through drama and through different approaches on how to avoid violence against women and girls.

Josephine Kamisya, senior program officer said that each zone in their operational areas have community activists who spearhead their campaigns. She however said many community members were hesitant to open up on issues about their families, even when they were facing torture and violence.

“We encourage the women and girls to always approach the police, local council officials and other leaders if they are faced with violence,” she said.

Ndeeba has 35 community activists, 15 drama group members and 20 LC officials plus seven traditional aunties.  

Farouk Katende, one of the community leaders said unemployment and over-drinking of alcohol were some of the major causes of domestic violence in their community.    

He said that the activists try to inform members that it was criminal to oppress or torture women and ask them to use available channels to solve their misunderstandings. 

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