Inspired by “From vulnerability to resilience: Promoting graduation in orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) programs”, organized by the OVC Task Force and AVSI-USA last year in Washington DC, AVSI Uganda has realized a similar event on March 15, 2017, at the Speke Resort Munyonyo. At the event, named “Experience sharing of the graduation and resilience model”, AVSI presented the most recent results of the Sustainable Comprehensive Responses (SCORE) Program for vulnerable children and their families model to 190 participants including the USAID mission, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, local governments, academia, other development partners, civil society and activity participants/ beneficiaries.
“At AVSI Foundation, we recognize that vulnerability of children and their families is a major impediment to the attainment of a balanced development. Whenever we talk about vulnerability, key concepts such as inequality and inequity become common words, ” said John Makoha, AVSI Uganda Country Representative. “To us, therefore, tackling child and household vulnerability is not just a social but also a political imperative - a way of gaining social fairness and economic efficiency of the community.”
Funded by USAID, this program is currently implemented by AVSI Uganda together with FHI360, CARE, and TPO Uganda, as well as hundreds of local partners. The program uses an integrated graduation model that is reaching over 31,000 households. To date, roughly 7,000 households have proudly graduated, while another 5,800 are in the pre-graduation stage. Thanks to SCORE, household income tripled, child labor and child abuse were reduced by more than 80%; malnutrition decreased by 74%; school enrollment increased by almost 20% while school absenteeism was reduced by 70%.
“74% of the beneficiaries who graduate remain resilient,” added Rita Larok, Chief of Party SCORE, AVSI Foundation. “Graduation corresponds with happiness as beneficiaries get out of the program, they are excited. Through tailored and individual family responsive interventions, we have been able to extend needed services to beneficiaries.”
During the event, Mark Meassick, USAID Uganda Mission Director, said that it was a great occasion to celebrate the evolution of a successful model, “a model,” he described in his speech, “developed in Uganda for Ugandans that makes a very valuable addition to the global effort, to empower poor families to become more resilient and better equipped to deal with shocks.”
Meassick also described Uganda’s current situation. The country is in the midst of a “demographic tsunami”. It is the fastest growing population of its size on the entire planet. Only 10% of Ugandans are over 45 years old; 52% are under 15. The average Ugandan is a 14-year-old girl. She is one of six children, living in a rural area. Her family is poor and her survival depends on agriculture, casual labor and remittances. Her family is likely to be food insecure in some way. She is vulnerable to economic, political and environmental shocks. Within this country context, 2.7 million Ugandan children are orphaned, almost half as a result of HIV/AIDS.
“SCORE is addressing this issues. By mapping families’ individual needs and aligning specific resources and services with a household plan, SCORE has not only successfully lifted families from vulnerability, but also helped them to build levels of resilience that protected them from falling back from the depths of vulnerability,” said Meassick. “USAID is proud to have partnered with the Government of Uganda and AVSI Foundation in building an evidence base for more responsive and sustainable development programming for orphans and vulnerable children.”
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