Global poverty is perpetuated by a complex constellation of factors and must be addressed by integrated, contextualized, and community-owned solutions. Rise Together seeks to disrupt the cycle of poverty by building family resilience through economic empowerment, access to information and services for healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, and improved gender equality.
This need is more salient in a post-conflict setting like Northern Uganda where social institutions and economic opportunities were damaged by civil strife. The conflict between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army led to massive disruption of health services, internal displacement of people, the erosion of traditional social and family structures, and a generation of young people who have grown up surrounded by violence. In the aftermath of the social disruption and violence, communities are striving to rebuild social and family structures, many of which socialize youth into adult roles as productive community members. It is critical to support local leaders and communities to revitalize positive elements of cultural traditions in a gender-equitable way as they navigate the post-conflict context.
In Uganda, despite investments in reproductive health over the last decade, high rates of unmet need for family planning remain. Uganda has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates (25%) in sub-Saharan Africa (Uganda DHS 2016). Especially in remote or low-resource settings, access to information is lacking, health systems are often overburdened, and family planning counseling may be out of reach. The West Nile (43%) and Acholi (39%) regions in Northern Uganda have the highest unmet need for family planning in the country (Uganda DHS 2016). The use of family planning for healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy can dramatically improve the health and survival of both women and children. Pregnancy among young girls or among mothers with closely spaced births increases the risk of morbidity and mortality for mother and child. Not only are these grave consequences in and of themselves, but they can also be economically devastating. Family planning allows women the opportunity to complete school, pursue livelihood opportunities outside the home, and plan the number and spacing of her children.
An intervention that combines investment in economic opportunities and access to family planning can address the critical obstacles which keep young people from flourishing in life. Moreover, gender equality must be an explicit cross cutting strategy in all activities to overcome the violence and limited opportunities that women and girls face.