Rafiki Working with Women

In Uganda like in the rest of Africa, the family is still the most Central institution for caring for older persons. An older person was defined as one who was aged 60 years and above. Older persons are generally too weak to perform productive work and are economically dependent on others, i.e. children, relatives and neighbors among others to survive. Some of them are faced with challenges of looking after grandchildren especially orphans. Programs and policies for older persons are enshrined in the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (article 32) which states that “the state shall make reasonable provision for the welfare and maintenance of the elderly”. It is noted that more than half of older persons had never been to school

The research shows that there are about 1.3 million older persons in the Uganda. In terms of education characteristics, 53 percent of the older persons had never been to school while 80 percent of the female older persons are illiterate compared to 41 percent of the male. Comparison of the findings across the survey periods indicates that there was a slight increase from about 1.2 million to 1.3 million older persons in the Uganda.

With lack of proper social security system for the elderly, it is not surprising that around 2 million elderly in Uganda need to work in order to survive. A majority of these workers are illiterate or have limited levels of education. Rural Elderly have been doubly disadvantaged as the access issues common to rural areas to health, economic and development services are only exacerbated due to the fact that the elderly are invisible and unorganized.

 

Women’s empowerment

Studies show that when women are supported and empowered, all of society benefits. Their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase. In short, communities become more resilient.

RVS firmly believes that empowering women to be key change agents is an essential element to achieving the end of hunger and poverty. Wherever we work, our programs aim to support women and build their capacity.

There is are an impressive over 200 women serving in executive positions across Uganda epicenters, and a grand total of 1,270 active WEP animators in the country – averaging about 115 per epicenter. All of the epicenters have women’s solidarity clubs, four have female youth groups and one has a mothers’ club. The women’s clubs sensitize mothers and women in general to the values of sending and keeping their daughters in school, and the mothers’ club raises awareness about the important of breastfeeding and a healthy, nutritional diet.

Community Empowerment:

Under community empowerment strategic focus, RSV empowers health care consumers with knowledge about their health rights and responsibilities, and also imparts skills to claim their health rights and exercise their health responsibilities as well as facilitate a health consumer –health provider feedback mechanism.

RSV-Uganda works with grass root community leaders to increase their capacity and knowledge and be able to impart this knowledge about health rights and health responsibilities to their local community members using the ToTs (Trainer of Trainers). These leaders commonly known as community trainers are key change agents in the local communities.

Community Empowerment Objective

To educate and empower health consumers, especially the poor and vulnerable, by dissemination of information on health rights and responsibilities, including rational use of medicines

The geographical coverage of the community empowerment programme:

Central Uganda – Mukono, Kayunga and Kampala district

Methodology

RSV uses two methodologies for community outreach and these include:

  1. Community empowerment methodology

To increase health awareness and community participation, RSV uses trained community trainers to be agents of change. A series of carefully planned training activities that reinforce each other in dissemination of health messages and training of the target group in the community are used.

  1. Community participatory methodology

The Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) approach is also used to increase health awareness and community participation in identifying and addressing barriers to access. Several techniques of the PRA are employed, such as case studies, brainstorming and group discussions, ranking and scoring, spider ranking, role play, stepping stones/ wheel chart among others.

This methodology has proved to be effective in working with the community and encouraging participation in identifying problems within the community and suggesting solutions and interventions to address the problems.