AVSI has been present in Uganda since 1984, first supporting hospitals and agriculture projects in Gulu and Kitgum districts, and later expanding around 1990 to establish the present-day headquarters in Kampala, offices in Pader, Gulu and Kitgum, and project activities in 12 other districts. AVSI staff has remained through the long periods of instability in northern Uganda caused both by anti-government rebellions led by Lord’s Resistance Army, and by conflict across the northern border in Sudan, which caused displacement in both countries. This required careful attention to changing needs of the local people, and great flexibility as programs often had to transition from a long term development approach to emergency response, and then back again to resettlement and development again. Over the years, hundreds of projects have been completed in the sectors of health, medical rehabilitation, HIV/AIDS, disability, education, management of camps for internally displaced people or refugees, protection including mine action programs and psychosocial programs, economic recovery and livelihoods, agriculture and farmer field schools, and water and sanitation.
The integrated vision of our projects in each sector and complementary sensitization and awareness raising campaigns never loses sight of our aim: to the serve the individuals, families and communities which we encountered in the field. The effective combination of our holistic approach and the experience and trust built over the years has made AVSI a preferred partner for local government agencies, institutions and international donors.
Strengthening civil society
Our list of current and recent projects below gives an idea of the breadth of the work being done, but the full scope could not be understood without mention of many rooted local organizations that AVSI has helped to strengthen over the years, including Meeting Point International, Meeting Point Kitgum, Meeting Point Hoima and the Permanent Centre for Education, the Company of Works Association (COWA), St. Joseph’s hospital, the District Hospital in Kitgum, and other health centers involved in provision of PMTCT (Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV) service, whose 10 years of impact is documented in the FREE video and report, as well as Luigi Giussani High School, and more than 27 grassroots organizations in many parts of Uganda, which are partners of our Distance Support Program.
History from recovery to development
During the period of instability and immediately after the cessation of the hostilities (2006) programs included management of camps for internally displaced persons and refugees, psychosocial support, recovery and reintegration for children who were abducted and former child soldiers, health care and assistance for victims of mines (especially through the Orthopedic unit and prosthetics workshop established at the Government Hospital in Gulu), and later support for resettlement including infrastructures for water and sanitation.
In the continuation of our work, our current priorities are for education quality and access (primary and secondary), youth vocational training and employment, healthcare system support focused in 5 major hospitals in Gulu, Pader and Kitgum Districts, including prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, and care for those affected by the disease. Complementary to health interventions are activities supporting vulnerable households, with special attention to women’s empowerment and to children (Orphans and Vulnerable Children or OVC – see the SCORE project). These include vocational and business training for income generating activities (IGAs), farmer field schools and crop diversification, economic strengthening, and supporting the organization of farmer and community groups.
Institutional partnerships and research
AVSI works in close collaboration with the Ugandan governments at a district level, and with the national Ministries of Education and Ministries of Gender, Labour and Social Development. One of the first implementing agencies present in the North, AVSI has remained a trusted partner for US government agencies and programs such as USAID, including through OFDA and PEPFAR, and the Department of Labor; as well as for many international organizations: the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNICEF, UNHCR, the European Union and the Italian and Dutch governments.
As conditions have stabilized, our wide presence in Uganda has made it an ideal place to take advantage of participation in research studies and impact evaluations in order to provide communities with better services. These have included healthcare research for evidence-based treatment, and support of studies such as the Survey of War Affected Youth (SWAY) (See Report 1 and Report 2) to better target post-conflict recovery interventions, market analyses and a related most recent impact evaluation on economic strengthening interventions targeted toward women in the Women’s Income Generating Support (WINGS) project.
Distance Support Project
Location: Kampala, Kitgum, Gulu, Pader, Auru, Nebbi, Masindi, Lira, Hoima, Kibaale, Lukwero, Kamuli, Jinja, Mudono, Masaka, Iganga, and Wakiso Districts
Description: Long-term support to over 4,500 orphans and vulnerable children, improving the conditions for psychosocial and academic progress, while strengthening the capacity of the children’s families, caretakers and local organizations to respond to their needs. Fulfillment of school requirements (uniforms, books, fees, etc.), organization of after school recreation and educational activities, and creation of programs designed to improve the economic status of the child’s family through training and support to parents. Through DSP we are in contact with 1,392 public and private schools.
Donor Partners: AVSI Private Donors
Implementing Partners: Meeting Point International (Kireka, Naguru, Kitintale), Meeting Point Kampala (Kyamusa Obwongo), Meeting Point Hoima, Meeting Point Kitgum, COWA, and 27 other local organizations
Location: 35 districts in Uganda
Description: Economic strengthening project targeting 20,000 households of vulnerable children, many affected by HIV/AIDS, to benefit 150,000 children and family members. Use of
Household Development Plans to support each household along a pathway towards reduced vulnerability and increased stability, well-being and self-reliance. Community based organizations and the households themselves will be active participants with support and guidance provided by SCORE Team members within specific areas of technical expertise and defined geographic coverage. A coherent monitoring, evaluation and operational research plan will integrate data into the program design and will lead to important contributions to the understanding of sustainable, cost effective approaches.
Donor Partners: USAID; AVSI Private donors
Implementing Partners: CARE, TPO, FHI 360 and other international and local partners
Expanded and Comprehensive Informal and Technical Education (EXCITE)
Location: Gulu, Kitgum, Pader districts in northern Uganda
Description: Involvement of 600 young people between the ages of 14-19 with high vulnerability to improve professional competence through enrollment at 6 vocational training institutions and support to 30 small businesses, mostly agriculture-based. Improve access to vocational training an apprentice programs, ensuring these match the talents of individuals and needs of the professional market to increase rate and quality of employment and income.
Donor Partners: European Union
Implementing Partners: COWA Uganda
Strengthening Sustainable Local Government and Community Systems that will Improve Access to Holistic Essential Services for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children
Location: Northern Uganda
Description: Provision of technical support in OVC care and monitoring, strengthening capacity of community-based organizations and local governments; improve advocacy and resource mobilization among local government and civil society.
Donor Partners: USAID (Sunrise)
Implementing Partners: AVSI as TSO (Technical Service Organization)
Description: Capacity building to improve sustainability of the Permanent Centre for Education; a regional reference point for teacher training based in Kampala. The specific goal of the project is for the PCE to become a recognized, tertiary educational institution with a sound foundation for financial and operational self-sustainability and the capacity to generate and meet the demand for its services in Uganda and within the East Africa region.
Donor Partners: Private U.S. donor
Implementing Partners: Managed by AVSI-USA; Permanent Centre for Education
Location: Gulu and Kitgum
Description: To provide tools that enable 1,800 vulnerable women in 120 villages to expand business activities which improve economic and psychosocial stability and integration. Randomized control impact evaluation to understand what kind of aid in this kind of post-conflict setting works best, specifically in terms of business skills, group dynamics and related training and support.
Donor Partners: Private U.S. donor, World Bank
Research Partners: Innovations for Poverty Action
Location: Kitgum, Gulu, Pader, Amuru, Oyam and Lira Districts
Description: To promote stability and opportunities for growth and reconciliation of marginalized communities affected by decades of civil conflict in Northern Uganda. Local community-based organizations and business cooperatives were involved in 30 pilot projects and capacity building, reaching 17,000 individuals throughout the Acholi region.
Donor Partners: USAID
Implementing Partners: Cardo Emerging Markets Group (Lead, with AVSI as sub-contractor)
Location: 12 sub-counties of Kitgum, Lamwo, Pader and Agago Districts
Description: The project supports the war affected population of northern Uganda to engage in productive and profitable agricultural and agribusiness activities that ensure food security and increased household income. This is done through improving production and distribution infrastructure, strengthening associations of small holder farmers and structures to increase access to credit and insurance. The project targets 1,570 extremely vulnerable individuals and their surrounding community.
Donor Partners: European Union (Northern Uganda Agricultural Livelihoods Recovery Programme-ALREP) and FAO
Implementing Partners: Caritas of the Gulu Archdiocese
ALIVE - “Support to keep children and mothers ALIVE through provision of a comprehensive Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS Package”
Location: Nwoya, Amuru, Gulu, Lamwo, Kitgum, Pader and Agago Districts
Description: Aims to increase access, utilization and demand for maternal and child health, nutrition, and HIV/AIDS services. Includes support to over 191 local health providers and hospitals to contribute to the reduction of maternal and child mortality and to improve quality of life of children and women in the Acholi region. Support to district health department teams empowering them to effectively coordinate and lead the processes of planning, management, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of maternal and child health, ANC/PMTCT+, nutrition, and health services.
Donor Partner: UNICEF
Implementing Partners: District Local Governments of Acholi Sub-Region (in the 7 districts listed above)
Primary HIV Prevention in Pregnant and Lactating Ugandan Women: A Randomized Trial (PRIMAL Study)
Location: St. Joseph hospital, Kitgum, and Mulago hospital, Kampala
Description: Study involving around 800 expecting mothers to inform national policy and guidelines, including for PMTCT, about the effect of retesting HIV-negative pregnant and lactating women and their partners during pregnancy and breastfeeding on primary HIV prevention.
Donor Partners: National Institute of Health (NIH)
Research Partners: Makerere/Johns Hopkins University; University of California San Francisco
Location: Uganda, (also implemented in Kenya, Rwanda, extended into Cote d’Ivoire)
Description: To support 12,390 of the most vulnerable children through a network of community based providers who ensure access to quality education and basic health care, and strengthen families.
Donor Partners: USAID / PEPFAR
Implementing Partners: 41 local organizations strengthened
Improving Food Security and Agricultural Livelihoods of the War Affected Communities in Acholi and Teso ALREP (OSRO/UGA/102/EC) using the Farmer Field Schools approach.
Location: Lamwo District
Duration: 2012- 2013
Description: Support to 92 Farmer Field Schools groups in Lamwo District for 18 months to improve their agricultural productivity through better farming technique.
Donor Partner: FAO
Regional Cassava Initiative in Support of Vulnerable Smallholders in Central and Eastern Africa
Location: Kitgum District
Description: Targeting 30 farmer groups, providing technical assistance to multiply cassava variety and conduct awareness campaign to combat Cassava Brown streak virus.
Donor Partner: FAO
Monitoring Return and Support to Extremely Vulnerable Individuals’ project
Location: Kitgum, Gulu and Pader
Description: To monitor the return of IDPs to their homes, supporting the returnees with agricultural inputs such as seeds and tools. Provision and training for use of tractors to expand land for cultivation by the returnees; distribution of livestock to aid asset recovery. Support to basic livelihoods initiatives for persons with specific needs (PSN) and caregivers with the goal of sustainable solutions, giving priority to food access and security. In-depth assessment to explore 670 beneficiaries’ needs and preferences, using a livelihood assistance framework and creating a resource for future interventions.
AVSI Uganda 2012 Annual Report: