So many events have been taking place in the world in light of COVID-19. Countries have introduced all sorts of community safety measures. Lock downs have been introduced and lifted and in the same breath refugees have had to find ways to adapt amidst the chaos.
As we recognize World Refugee day today we would like to put a spotlight on our Up Accelerate initiative. In late 2018, the initiative focused on West Nile and Northern Uganda, challenging young people between the age of 18 to 30 years to come up with innovative business solutions for the following areas:
- Access to timely, context appropriate, and accurate SRHR & GBV information and education for women, adolescents and young people affected by conflict and their host communities challenge area;
- Improving access to essential SRH services and supplies for women and young people affected by conflict and their host communities;
3. An integrated approach to limit excessive alcohol and substance abuse.
The goal for the teams was to represent the diversity of the youth in areas of Northern Uganda and West Nile, from largely rural and non-major urban centers — and refugee settlements. During the inception of the initiative, Sonic Olara, a refugee living in Palabek Refugee Settlement in Lamwo District, mentioned that so many women in the settlement do not attend antenatal care due to the long distance to a health center, and so many of them even give birth at home.
The theme of World Refugee Day this year is “every action counts.” Everyone can make a difference. During this lock down the teams have had to rethink their business models in order to continue to be able to provide products and services to individuals within the region and settlements. Some of the services that the teams intend to provide are:
Baby Kit- A team using affordable and locally made materials to develop infant warmers help mothers in refugee settlements that have given birth to premature or at-risk babies. The team is testing different distribution channels in order to continue to provide the infant warmers to mothers in the settlement.
IKitty Supplies- A service that will help young men and women living in rural and refugee settlements and host communities in West Nile access affordable family planning services by reducing distance, time, transport cost and stigma through a last mile distribution network of trained youth friendly village health teams. The team wants to test the comfortability of their target market to seek contraceptive information from their peers as opposed to Village Health Teams
Platform 503- A music dance and drama group which creates ‘’you-change skits’’ that will help young women, adolescent girls and young people affected by conflict in refugee and host communities access user friendly information on the causes, prevention and strategies to end gender based violence through audio/visual context appropriate customer inclusive, educative and entertaining short plays. Security measures against COVID-19 have led to the closure of cinema halls country wide therefore the team would seek to have media related engagement and explore the use of radio to air their shorter skits. Should the security measures be reduced, the team intends to screen the movie while observing social distancing guidelines.
Poker Card- A card book that will promote inclusiveness by helping deaf women and youths acquire primary Health care knowledge on HIV/AIDs through graphics, illustrations and images that can be understood by the deaf. The team wants to continue to test the illustrations they intend to use in their book while observing social distancing guidelines
We help- An interactive voice response system platform that will help women of childbearing age easily access family planning services by describing to them the benefits and likely costs of the chosen contraceptives; using their preferred language also linking them to the nearest health facility. The team wants to get an actual toll free number where youth have access to family planning information.
Miering services- Focuses on young girls between the age of 13 to 17 years affected by conflicts and host communities who want to avoid and prevent cases of early teenage pregnancies by reducing ignorance and fear about sexual reproductive health issues through providing timely, convenient and confidential access to information about early teenage pregnancy in both Lugbara and English language using take home books, audio information, free SMSs and toll free calls.
Unity and Prosperity Medical Center (UPMC)- An antenatal care service provider that will help expectant mothers living in refugee communities access safe delivery services within their community to solve the problem of long distances to the nearest health facilities through establishment of mobile antenatal clinics. Although field work has come to a standstill, the team wants to supply prenatal medicine such as antimalarial and continue prenatal visits while keeping social distancing.
This year as we celebrate World Refugee Day, we applaud not only all the front line workers but also the Up Accelerate teams for putting their best foot forward by making every action count!