Fida: Collaborating in East Africa to Effectively Fight Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
The number of reported cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has risen sharply in Eastern Africa during and after the spread of the Covid-19 virus and related lockdown measures. Cases vary from harassment to abuse and rape, FGM and teenage pregnancies. Fida Country Programs are responding to the situation. Here are some examples of responses made.
The GBV situation in Uganda worsened because of the lengthy lockdown, although the situation varies from area to area. Fida is working in Amudat, Yumbe, Masindi and Karamoja. The Country Program noticed the need to have religious leaders and community leaders on their side for the work to be successful. After the lockdown, Fida met communities face to face, especially in Yumbe. As a result, religious leaders in Yumbe committed themselves to fight teenage pregnancies and GBV. As a result, two communities started working against GBV by creating guidelines to prevent teenage pregnancies. In Masindi and Amudat, radio programs now sensitise people on GBV. Also, there has been collaboration with government officials in Masindi. In addition, GBV groups have been active in Karamoja. After the interventions, the GBV situation has improved but is still not good.
Lockdowns also caused a deterioration in the GBV situation in Kenya. Some families were separated, and family members couldn’t travel to work or home. Families experienced a lot of stress because of income loss and confinement to homes. This resulted in high statistics of domestic violence. Fida responded with several actions. Radio programs on stress management and coping mechanisms have been broadcast, especially in slums (ex., Nairobi). Fida posted information posters about Covid and GBV to raise awareness on coping with the situation. Recognising that domestic violence can be brought about if family income is low, one of the output areas is to build the economic capacity of beneficiaries by improving food security, income generation and stabilising families’ economic status. In Narok, the Country Program is part of official working groups with the judiciary, health sector, and lawyers. As a result, a One Stop Approach, where victims can get help, has been developed. This model could be strengthened and taken to other areas. Another idea is to train people who can monitor GBV early warning and react to cases reported.
Fida Country Programs in Uganda, Kenya and Burundi have identified a need for a stronger focus on SGBV in program planning, theory of change, indicators and activities. As a result, indicators are being refined to make GBV more visible. In addition, the country programmes are currently brainstorming how they can make the response more effective.