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Govt to move on orphanages

A crackdown on unregistered orphanage centres and those that don’t meet set standards begins next week, the minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGLSD) has announced.

Minister Mary Karooro Okurut said yesterday that during an ‘on-the-ground’ inspection, officials found sanitation and accommodation at some centres in an alarming state.

“They don’t have toilets; the children use buveera [polythene bags]; they will get diseases,” she said. “You also find ten children on one small bed.”
She said some girls were raped and boys forced into homosexual acts.

Okurut was officiating at the launch of the AfriChild Centre for the study of the African child at Makerere University on October 15. Through research, analysis and knowledge development, the centre seeks to improve child protection and care as well as informing policy.

In 2012, five orphanages in Kampala were closed over reports of sexual abuse, child trafficking and poor facilities – contrary to the guidelines set out in the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Policy. According to Unicef statistics, Uganda had 2.7 million orphans in 2012.

In his keynote address, the AfriChild advisory board chairman, Prof Edward Kirumira, attacked civil society organisations (CSOs) and development agencies for fragmenting children’s issues into different categories instead of addressing them in their entirety.

“They [CSOs] will only use their research when they want to ask for grants; they will not use it to inform policy,” Prof Kirumira said.

The AfriChild Centre

Established early last year, the AfriChild Centre is a product of the Uganda Programme Learning Group of the Child Protection in Crisis Network. It has been established through partnership with the ministry of Gender, Unicef Uganda, Child Fund International Uganda and Columbia University.

Other partners are Makerere University college of Humanities and Social Sciences – where the centre is located, and Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation – TPO Uganda.

The Unicef chief of Social Policy and Evaluation, Dr Diego Angemi, was optimistic the centre would “provide counselling services in the unhappy marriage between the academia and policymakers”.

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