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New cohort of adolescent mentors join forces to end teenage pregnancy, child marriage in Karamoja

KARAMOJA, Uganda: Armed with new skills on promotion of adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health services, prevention of Gender Based Violence and economic empowerment, 20-year-old Palma Amua has joined forces to combat teenage pregnancy and child marriage to see girls achieve their dreams.

Amua is one of the 62 new adolescent girls mentors trained by Bangladesh Rural Advancement Commitee (BRAC) Uganda in six selected Karamoja districts of Abim, Amudat, Moroto, Kaabong, Napak and Nakapiripirit, and charged with the responsibility to mentor 25 girls each within the Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA+) clubs.

The ELA+ clubs are safe spaces through which vulnerable adolescent girls, aged 14-24 who have dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancies, child marriages or inability to afford school-fees are identified, organized and engaged to access life skills education; sexual reproductive health (SRH) education and financial literacy training to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, as endorsed by parents, local, cultural, religious and political leaders.

After a five days training at  Morulem sub-county in northeast Uganda’s Abim district,  covering topics of SRH, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and financial literacy, Amua confidently explains, “I am going to educate and sensitize the community to take action to stop child marriages, violence against children, domestic violence, GBV and teenage pregnancies,” she said.


New cohort of adolescent mentors during a training session in Karamoja. PHOTO: UNFPA/Samuel Okiror.

“As a mentor, I am going to pick and reach 25 adolescent girls in the village. I will teach them about staying safe, providing sexual reproductive health information and how to access commodities, make referrals and improving the culture of financial savings to empower adolescent girls to achieve their dreams.”

With funding from the Austrian Development Agency, EU Spotlight Initiative and Embassy of Sweden under UN Joint Programme on GBV, UNFPA supports BRAC Uganda to reach out to adolescents and teenage mothers in Karamoja, through the ELA+ clubs.  

“We have picked these mentors because we believe they are the role models in the community. They will be teaching the girls on savings, budgeting and borrowing loans, investments, and starting the savings group in their clubs,” said Ms. Juliet Acheng, Project Assistant ELA+ Project, BRAC for Abim district.

Pamela Alanyo, Programme Officer at BRAC explained, The project focuses on improving the quality of life of vulnerable adolescents by organizing them and creating safe spaces of their own and developing a set of skills so that they can live and grow as confident, empowered and self-reliant individuals contributing to change in their own families and communities.”

Christine Losike, Project Assistant ELA+, Nakapiripirit district said, “These groups have played successful role in the sensitization of the community about GBV and SRH through their initiative of Music, Dance and Drama. They sing and perform dramas to sensitize people about the dangers of GBV in families, child marriages and teenage pregnancies.”

In 2020, a total of 300 clubs were formed where some 11,000 vulnerable girls in Karamoja sub-region gained life skills, knowledge on SRH/GBV information and services, as well as started on various livelihood projects such as tailoring, selling household items, food among others.

-       Compiled by Samuel Okiror