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 Children  Uganda Project #18515

Delay Marriage Promote Schooling for Ugandan Girls

by Joy for Children-Uganda
Delay Marriage Promote Schooling for Ugandan Girls
Delay Marriage Promote Schooling for Ugandan Girls
Delay Marriage Promote Schooling for Ugandan Girls
Delay Marriage Promote Schooling for Ugandan Girls
Delay Marriage Promote Schooling for Ugandan Girls
Delay Marriage Promote Schooling for Ugandan Girls
Girls from Mahyoro Primary School
Girls from Mahyoro Primary School

Since the implementation of the Empower Project in Karangura Sub County, more girls from Kibyo and Mahyoro Primary schools have joined secondary schools. Joy For Children Uganda team is proud to see the less-prevelleged girls in an this area that has for long been known for high cases of child marriage in uganda, wade through all their cultural threats and make it through the primary school cycle successfully.

In 2017 Uganda National Examination Board's Primary Leaving Examination results, seventeen of the supported girls from Kibyo and Mahyoro Primary schools passed and they will be enrolling for secondary education this year. The support offered to them in terms of goats, sanitary pads and scholastic materials contributed to their perseverence to complete the primary cycle.

Our sincere appreciation goes to our donors, the administration of the two participating schools and the political leaders of Karangura Sub county for having enabled us contribute to the success of the campaign towards ending child marriage in Karangura Sub county.

We pledge to reach out to more girls so that they too can keep in school, complete the primary cycle and proceed to other levels until completion.

Girls from Kibyo Primary School
Girls from Kibyo Primary School
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This project report is a submission to GlobalGiving’s 2017 Fail Forward Contest, where organizations are asked to share a story of when they tried something new that didn’t go as planned and how they learned from it. Enjoy!


Considering the nature of JFCU’s activities and the ever growing world concern on child-marriage, my team and I felt urgent need to help end child-marriage in Karangura Sub County, Kabarole District; a sub county that was leading in child-marriage cases not only in Kabarole but also in the Western Region.

Karangura Sub County is located in Kabarole District, Western Uganda at the foot of Mt.Rwenzori with Bakonjo as the main inhabitants.  At the time we were launching the project, different reports showed, Bakonjo were marrying off their daughters of ages between 12 and 14 due to a number of reasons among which were:

the impact of Allied Democratic Forces’ (ADF) rebel activities that had concentrated in the RwenzoriMountains from 1997 to 2007;

the Bakonjo culture that promotes child marriage;

poverty in most homes in the sub county;

parents’ ignorance on the value of educating the girl-child;

the effects of economic activities that had followed the construction of Fort-Portal – Bundibugyo-Lamia Road.


Implementation of the project


The start did not go as we had expected. After the initial field visit of Karangura Sub County, we were overwhelmed by a number of challenges like: the large size of the sub county; nearly all the children in the sub county were in need; the mountainous nature of the area and the parents’ low levels of education. Those challenges couldn’t allow us make any progress; we had to put all activities on halt! In addition, by that time, JFCU’s offices were only in Kampala, Uganda’s capital that is approximately 297 kilometres (185 miles) by road, and our staff could hardly speak Lukonzo, the language of the land.


Failing had not been our target. We wanted to make a change in the region. We wanted to help the girl-child in Karangura realise her life’s dream. We had to go back on the drawing board and and readjust our strategies on how we could have the Empower Project implemented in Karangura Sub County. JFCU team decided:

to open offices in Fort-Portal (Kabarole’s major town) to help coordinate the project activities

to seek guidance from Karangura Sub County L.Council III (L.C. III) executive on the most affected parish where two primary schools to concentrate the project activities would be selected

to engage in fundraising activities so as to solicit funds to support the project activities

buy nunny goats to beneficiaries. First female off springs to be collected and offered to other needy girls

to donate textbooks for schools that would be selected so as to support daily teaching/learning and encourage pupils‘ independent study

to donate sanitery towels to schools that would be selected so as to support adolescent girls maintain menstrual hygiene

to select teacher coordinators in selected schools so they could help monitor the beneficiaries and also do interpretation during JFCU staff’s field visits

to work with the L.C. III executive to help guide JFCU staff engage in community activities


After attending the July, 2014 GlobalGiving Meeting in London, I had to lead my team to implement all we had planned. It was time to get the Empower Project implemented in Karangura Sub County! With the help of the L.C. III executive, we selected Kibwa Parish where we would specifically concentrate Empower Project activities in Mahyoro and Kibyo Primary Schools.


JFCU’s engagement in GlobalGiving activities has attracted donations that started as far as November, 2014 has provided funds that have greatly supported the project’s activities in the sssub county. Goats have been donated to the beneficiaries, scholastic materials likepupils‘ and teachers‘ text books have been donated to the participating schools, among other achievements. The Empower Project Evaluation Report of January, 2017 gave us an insight that the project is doing well despite the earlier challenges and those that we are still to address. .

Our effort to make a positive change in Karangura Sub County constantly reminds me to ponder on Barrack Obama’s words:

Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.











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One of the members submits his views
One of the members submits his views


Venue: Neur Conference Hall.


The Government of Uganda (GoU) with support of the World Bank (IDA) and the African Development Bank is implementing the Albertine Region Sustainable Development Project. One of the components of the project is to upgrade 238km of Kyenjojo-Kabwoya-Hoima-Masindi-Kigumba funded by both the AfDB (138km) and the World Bank (IDA) (100km). The Albertine Rift Valley is a center for rapid growth which is likely to accelerate with the oil development underway in the region. To ensure that the benefits of the oil development reach the residents of the area, GoU is keen to improve connectivity to and within the region and local economic infrastructure.

With the discovery of oil in the Albertine Graben region (Albertine Region), this emerging sector will feature prominently in Uganda’s development in the decades to come, bringing both benefits and challenges. Peak production is likely to be about 150,000 to 200,000 barrels per day for 10-20   years. An estimated 10,000 jobs could be created at peak times with indirect jobs perhaps at 3 to 5 times as high. Government revenue at peak production could be in the order of US$2.0 billion to over $3.0 billion annually, possibly more than double Uganda’s current budget.

However, global experience demonstrates that natural resource wealth in the context of poverty and weak institutions increases the probability of corruption, patronage, instability, and conflict. Whether Uganda’s oil is a blessing or curse depends largely on the establishment of an institutional framework that ensures fair and equitable distribution of resource rents and appropriate consideration of economic, social, and environmental issues.

Looking at the Fort Portal-Kamwenge road, lessons included existence of violation of human rights including sexual abuse of young girls. Since then a lot of changes have been made to ensure safety of people and children in project areas. To avoid a repeat of the Fort Portal-Kamwenge incident that led to the cancellation of the project, UNRA has called on civil Society Organizations to work together to combat any form of abuse and incase where it occurs, to ensure that redress is provided. Joy for Children with support from the Bank Information Center, having worked closely with the community in Kamwenge, was requested by UNRA to guide CSOs in the Albertine Region on how they can collectively work to combat any form of abuse.

Meeting the CSOs in Kagadi

This meeting was held on Saturday, 30 September, 2017. It was organized by JFCU as a way of initiating its activities in Kagadi District. The meeting was attended by leaders from Kagadi District Local Government and members of CSOs.

In his opening remarks, the area Local Council One (L.C. I) Chairperson expressed his gratitude for having been made part of the team that is to advocate for children’s rights in his area of jurisdiction and Kagadi District Local Government as a whole. 

The Executive Director, JFCU highlighted reasons why JFCU was interested in carrying out its activities in the district:

There is need to ensure protection of children in the district as the road construction project is likely to affect lives of the residents both positively and negatively

He revealed to the members that the gist of the meeting was engage members in a discussion of matters relating to the safety during and after the road construction.

He reminded members that the road construction project will increase the money circulation in the area which can be a big threat. To justify the point, he made a recount of the Fort Portal- Kamwenge Road incident where it was found out that the activities of a related project caused gross abuse of children’s rights.

He emphasized that when numbers of people in an area increase, they have both positive and negative effects on the living conditions of residents. Because of this reason, he emphasized that the government of the Republic of Uganda needs the effort of the people of Kagadi District to point out all threats that the road construction project is causing on human rights, especially those of the children. Thus, the need for JFCU to work with local CSOs to ensure safety of the child. On this point, members were encouraged to identify all changes noticed in the area since the start of the project.

Following the above submission, members were asked to engage in an open discussion. The following were their views:

A member from UDRT, the local CSO advocating for Girl Child Education, Gender and Skilling the youth, revealed that many challenges were expected ahead of the UNRA road construction project. He suggested that a Holistic Approach was needed in child protection engagements in Kagadi District. He identified the key groups to be engaged in the campaign as: the child, parents/caretakers and the entire community.

He suggested the following:

Raising consciousness in communities as residents of Kagadi District need to know the rights of their children despite the opportunities the project may come along with.

Children need to be protected so that they can live to enjoy the benefits that the first class road will bring in the district.

In a related submission, one of the Kagadi District Local Government representatives demanded:

The Executive Director, JFCU enlighten him more on the activities of his organization.

 JFCU should make known to the members what it intends to do for the people of Kagadi District.

Members that attended the meeting
Members that attended the meeting
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A beneficiary with her siblings
A beneficiary with her siblings

In January, 2017, JFCU made an effort to evaluate the progress of The Empower Project in Karangura Sub County, Kabarole District. The title of the study was Promoting Girl-child Education: An Evaluation of the Empower Project in Karangura Sub County, Kabarole District. Activities of this project aim at ending child-marriage and promoting Girls’ Education in the rural areas of Uganda.



The Empower project is an initiative of Joy For Children, Uganda (JFCU) that was started up as an effort to end child marriage in Karangura Sub County, Kabarole.

The Empower project operates with the guidance of the following objectives:

  • To increase social action, acceptance, and visibility around investing in and supporting girls, and generating shifts in social expectations relating to girls.
  • To advocate for an enabling environment that protects the rights of adolescent girls.


Unlike other parts of Kabarole, Karangura Sub County has stood out  for long as an area with the highest number of early marriage cases. This has mainly been contributed by the influence of culture and the impact of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) war of around 1997 to 2007. 

Culturally, the Bakonzo and Bamba have been marrying off their daughters aged between 12 and 14; the suitable age for children from P5 to P7. The Uganda (1995) constitution declares all people under the age 18 as children. According to Isis- WCCE research report (2011), the imposition of a marriage partner upon a child means a girl’s childhood, as well as their fundamental rights like education, is cut short. It goes on to say, many child wives in Uganda who should be in school or playing are living in near slave-like conditions in the homes of their in-laws. Please refer to Picture 1 in the attachments.

In addition to the above, Karangura Sub County had chocked with the heavy weight of post-conflict[1] effects. Early marriage finds a fertile ground in post-conflict situations where both girls and boys get sexually active early due to rape, forced sex and need to survive in situations where the basis of life is minimal (Isis-WICCE Research Report, 2011). It had also been said, in such an area, parents would marry off their daughters at an early age in the exchange for goats, chickens or cassava.

JFCU, through its Empower project, joins The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to condemn the practice of child marriage because it violates the (girls’) right to free and full consent to a marriage.  This follows reports by the media and documents by various organizations citing the high rate of early marriages in the sub county. The practice had been branded the major cause of high (adolescent) girls’ drop out cases especially in Mahyoro and Kibyo Primary schools.

The project was designed to breathe life through activities that include school out reaches, Girls Not Brides Clubs, Community events, communicating messages about ending child marriage, support for girls’ education, income-generating initiatives, publication of educational materials and evaluation reports. The Empower Project was set, for the first three years, to work with Kibyo and Mahyoro Primary Schools that taught about 350 pupils.  A target of 200 goats to be given to girls was set to improve on adolescent girls’ (home) income and also serve as bite to sustain their interest in keeping in school.

JFCU proposed working with 20 local leaders to help provide the impact of child marriage on girls and the community, save appreciating the value of education in social and economic development. In addition, 30 teachers were to be trained and supported through various through various economic empowerment and education activities.  11, 102 information, education and communication materials were to be produced and distributed with messages that address the value of education and delaying marriage. It was further targeted; more than 20,000 community members were to be reached through open community events and engagements.


This study was conducted as a way of evaluating the progress of the JFCU’s Empower project in Karangura Sub County, Kabarole. It aimed at:

  • Establishing the level at which the Empower project has supported families in a bid to keep their daughters in school.
  • Assessing the extent to which the Empower project has increased awareness of the law against child marriage among the people of Karangura Sub County.
  • Ascertaining the level at which Joy For Children Uganda, through its Empower project, has cooperated with the government to eradicate child marriage in Karangura sub county.

The study was conducted both qualitatively and quantitatively. Samples were of different categories as it for purposes of obtaining balanced data. The study involved:75 pupils (25 boys and 50 girls) , 20 parents, 10 teachers and 05 members of the Local Council III Executive. 

The instruments used in the study were generated locally. Parents and members of the LC3 executive were interviewed as pupils and teachers filled self-administered questionnaires. Items in the tools were arranged according to the set objectives for the Empower Project. Data was presented through the use of tables where it was quantified. Analysis was done basing on the figures obtained from responses in questionnaires and interview sessions.

After presentation and analysis of data, the following findings were reached at:

  • The Empower project is legally carried out in Karangura Sub County, Kabarole. JFCU concentrates the project activities in Kibyo and Mahyoro Primary Schools in Kibwa Parish, Karangura Sub County.
  • The project supports girls that are in (primary) schools. At the time of this study, 65 girls were being supported. All girls received goats. In addition, 30 of the girls are financially supported and 35 benefit in both forms of support.
  • JFCU gives material support to girls from poor families. The support is both material and financial. Girls that excel in studies are given top priority.
  • Schools lack washrooms for adolescent girls.
  • JFCU works with local authorities in Karangura Sub County to support adolescent girls keep in school.
  • The Empower project has greatly contributed to the formulation of by-laws at the sub county level that aim at ending child marriage in Karangura Sub County. For example; a fine of Ushs1, 000,000 (Ushs 500,000 from each party) is to be imposed on both the parents and the man that get into agreement of marrying off a girl that is below 18 years. The sub county leadership takes the money to the girl’s school where the School Management Committee decides on how the money can help fund her studies.
  • The Empower project has contributed to the retention of the girl-child in Kibyo and Mahyoro Primary schools.
  • Support to the girls expires on completion of Primary Seven.

Following the discussion of the above findings, the following conclusions were made;

  • JFCU operates in Karangura Sub County and has won support of  both local authorities and the natives.
  • Local authorities in Karangura Sub County are committed to working with JFCU to bring child marriage to an end.
  • JFCU has supported girls from needy families with goats to help boost their families’ income and give them assurance of keeping in school.
  • Beneficiaries of the Empower project keep in touch with JFCU through teacher coordinators in the two schools.

After the above conclusions, the following recommendations were made to the management of JFCU, schools administration, parents, pupils and the LC3 executive:

  • There is need to expand the project to other parishes of Karangura sub county.
  • There should be sensitisation of  beneficiaries on proper ways of looking after the goats received so as to prevent further loss.
  • There should be clear principles to govern the management of goats donated.
  • JFCU should allocate more funds to the Empower project to help care for beneficiaries even after the primary cycle.
  • Parents in Karangura Sub County should look beyond the goats and financial support given to their daughters.
  • Goats donated to girls should be cared for as required so as to minimize deaths and retarded growth.
  • Parents should monitor their daughters’ education as a way of supplementing teachers’ effort to bring child marriage to an end.
  • The office of the Chairperson Local Council III, Karangura Sub County should also put up ways of supporting young mothers in the sub county.
  • There is urgent need of washrooms to promote menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls.
  • School administrators should minimize teachers’ absenteeism so that the girl-child does not find it an excuse of doing the same or dropping out of school.
  • Adolescent girls should be given career guidance so that they can keep focused and keep away from being lured into early marriage.


[1] ADF rebel activities of 1997 to 2007 concentrated in the Rwenzori region where Karangura Sub county is located.

Beneficiaries from Kibyo Primary School
Beneficiaries from Kibyo Primary School
Beneficiaries from Mahyoro Primary School
Beneficiaries from Mahyoro Primary School
A beneficiary with her guardian and teacher.
A beneficiary with her guardian and teacher.
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AUGUST, 2016






Uganda is one African country with a high rate of child marriages/child brides. It holds the eleventh position in Africa with 46% of  girls of 18 years forced or lured in marriages. According to UNFPA, the prevalence of child marriages is highest in the Northern region at 59%, followed by Western region at 58%, Eastern Uganda at 52% with Kampala having the lowest rate at 21%.

Butaleja district is among the top 5 districts in Uganda with a high rate of child marriages/brides in the Eastern region at 46% Most of these girls drop out of school due reasons like poverty, poor performance among other and get married at an early age.

Early marriages and the resultant pregnancies are the biggest causes of deaths in 15-19year old girls accounting to 20% of maternal deaths in Uganda,those who survive pregnancies suffer lasting complications like fistula and disability, (UNICEF-2014).  Ending child marriages in Africa especially Uganda requires the efforts and commitments of every stake holders, including parliamentarians, district leaders, religious leaders, academia, private sector, etc.

It’s due to this brief background that in 2015, Joy for Children Uganda embarked on a process to support Butaleja district local government to bring together all different stakeholders in the district to develop an action plan to implement/address issues related to ending child marriages in the district. After conducting of different activities from community level to high level district engagements, an action plan to end child marriages was developed with clear activities and implementation strategies.

Joy for Children Uganda convened another meeting with technical planning team of the district to critically review the action plan and budget for the suggested activities for a time frame of 5 years.

Outcomes of the Meeting

The meeting was chaired by CAO who welcomed members to the meeting and highlighted about relevance of attending the meeting which was to review the available action plan and draft a budget for it in a period of 5 year targeting it to be approved by the district council so as to increase the opportunity for resource mobilization by the district. After the 5 years the action plan will be reviewed and progress will be tracked. He thanked the Joy for Children Uganda for funding the campaign to end child marriages in the district and the district.

He highlighted that as a department of community development and probation office there is still increasing numbers of young girls getting married so young girls who drop out of school end up suffering very many consequences.

He informed members that the district in a long time had no clear implementation funded plan to address child marriages and this has made it difficult to eradicate the problem.

He noted that JFCU has come up with a campaign to support the district to end child marriages and the process begun with development of the action plan.

This process has been consultative from community level, meeting with different groups and stakeholders who came up with the available draft of the action plan. He thanked JFCU for the wonderful work, and committed to work together with the partners to implement this action plan.

He emphasized that, there is need to encourage our community members to support the programs to end Child Marriages and Teenage pregnancies amongest heads of different departments in the district. He also urged participants to keep sensitizing the community especially parents.

He said that the issue of Early Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy is everyone’s responsibility which cannot therefore be left to only, Joy for Children, Girls Not Brides and other partners.

He requested participants to have the budgeting process done as quickly as possible to enable the sect oral committee to organize the order paper as soon as possible before the council convenes.

Budgeting for the Action Plan

The action plan was reviewed by the participants and the budget was attached against every implementation activity. Both a one year implementation plan and a 5year implementation plan were designed.

Secretarial Committee Meeting

As a requirement and procedure by the local government regarding approval of district plans, after the technical input in the budgeting of the action plan, the secretarial committee meeting was convened to digest and prepare the action plan to be approved by the council. The meeting happened on 6th September 2016 at the district headquarters.

The action plan was therefore digested and the committee nominated the Minister of gender to Hon. Beatrice Namunyole to present the action plan before the council when they convene.

See the budgeted action plan attachment.

Key Issues From the Budgeting Process

Rehabilitation center

Members of the secretarial committee pointed out a need to construct a rehabilitation center that would accommodate victims of child marriage to give counseling and rehabilitation services. This was proposed to be discussed with different stake holders in the first quarterly review meeting.

District ordinances and by laws

Members suggested a district ordinance to the council on child marriage and supporting all the sub counties to pass by laws on child marriages.

Change in the action plan

Technical planning team highlighted that the action plan can be amended whenever necessary based on the availability of resources and nature of implementation.

  1. The council was postponed to convene on 16th September 2016 when we expect the action plan to be approved.
  2. The secretarial committee requested for facilitation from the Ministry of gender and secretarial committee during the presentation of the action plan to the council for approval.

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Joy for Children-Uganda

Location: Kampala, Uganda - Uganda
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Joy for Children Uganda
Kampala, Uganda
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