More than 8 million children in Uganda are considered to be vulnerable to harm (UNICEF). Violence, exploitation and abuse in all forms put children’s physical and mental health and education at risk. More than 4 in 10 children live in poverty (UNICEF, Annual Report, 2022), with 59% of girls and 68% of boys having experienced physical violence that threatens and halts their development (UNICEF).
Our Child Protection Programme combines a range of targeted activities for children, teenage girls and boys, a community-based abuse prevention approach and an emergency response to safeguard children in imminent danger. In 2023 alone we've had over 1500 children and teenagers attend our Protecting Projects.
Our unique Child Protection Programme is split into four project areas; Saturday Kids Clubs, Girls Support Group, Football project and The Ewafe Project. The programme responds to the increased cases of child abandonment, abuse and neglect in the slum areas of Kampala. The projects focus on keeping children and young people safe, protecting their childhood and providing a safe and fun environment for children to have respite and play. The broad range of projects ensures that all children are provided protection. Our Protection Programme contributes to three of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); SDG 1 No poverty, SDG 3 Good Health and Wellbeing, SDG 5 Gender Equality and 6 Clean Water and Sanitation.
At the end of 2022 we commissioned a comprehensive Independent Evaluation looking at our programme activities in Uganda, with the support from external funding. The aim of the Independent Evaluation was to better understand our strengths, potential areas for improvement, alongside areas in need of scaling. It is important that we continue to review the impact, coherence, and sustainability of our projects as we look to the future.
We worked in partnership with Vashi Impact Group (VIG) an all-women led firm based out of London and Kampala, to undertake this important piece of work. VIG has extensive experience reviewing international projects specifically looking at gender and poverty related issues in East Africa.
What did Vashi Impact Group (VIG) find?
To gather the independent evaluation data VIG used focus group discussions, involving a range of stakeholders from Kids Club Kampala staff, community volunteers to children currently in our Ewafe Project home. From the results our community based approach to our projects and our holistic model to serve our communities shone through.
“Relationship with people [has improved] 100% but our relationship with community leaders really improved and puts them there to give us advice on what we can improve” - Ewafe Home Staff
The Evaluation concluded that out of our four project areas, our Protecting Projects are the most important. It also highlighted that we are one of the only organisations in Uganda taking this approach to support and advocate for at-risk children. Through our protection of extremely vulnerable children we are also providing systematic support to local authorities and holding them accountable with regards to advocating for children at risk of abuse and mistreatment. Most importantly, there is a need to scale up Protecting Projects to continue to safeguard these children. It’s obvious from the results we have significant impact in specific key areas:
Kids Club Kampala provides direct support to vulnerable children. In Kampala many protection cases are either never registered or followed up. Our project directly protects vulnerable children by feeding, protecting and providing them with skills and education to holistically improve their lives and future. Community members have reported how vital the project has been to increase tracing and reuniting children with their families.
We’ve increased the accountability of local authorities. Our protection project has directly built accountability of the local authorities/police. The number of missing children cases recorded has increased, and there has been an increase in the number of children successfully reunited with their families.
Counselling provided throughout the projects to children and teens has been deemed the most impactful. We provide children and teens the opportunity to learn about protection, hygiene and personal development.
Our impact is unique and effective in the communities where we work. Teenagers attending our projects tell us they are unable to receive support like Kids Club Kampala’s anywhere else. They mention other programmes (not Kids Club Kampala’s) neglect the counselling and personal development support that Kids Club Kampala provides.
The protection programme also strengthens other programmes run by Kids Club Kampala, specifically the Ewafe Project. The Ewafe Project first offers protection to children but then introduces them to the education and feeding programmes.
Samson was admitted to the Ewafe home in December 2014 and reintegrated with his family in 2021, Samson says: “Kids Club Kampala has helped me. They found me when I was abandoned and I was suffering. I felt unloved and uncared for. I am now happy because I have a family. Now I go to school. Kids Club Kampala has helped me with my education, clothing and everything I need.”
Looking to the future
Our aim is to scale up and increase the protection we provide to extremely vulnerable children. VIG’s evaluation highlighted that we are one of the only organisations in Uganda taking this approach to support and advocate for at-risk children. We believe the impact we have with this programme comes from our deeply-rooted position in local communities and has created the trust we have with locals. The sustainability of this programme's results relies on the intervention of Kids Club Kampala; and community leaders believe the high demand and the engagement needed with other community authorities would not be possible without Kids Club Kampala’s involvement. We’re committed scaling these projects to reach more vulnerable children, strengthening our relationship with local authorities to drive this growth and aligning with other governmental and NGO national level organisations to work together to combat child abuse.