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Musoli village is located in the Mayuge district of Uganda near Lake Victoria. Fishing is the primary source of income for the families settled along the lake. With the government’s current public health safety protocols, particularly to the communities around the lake due to Covid 19 pandemic, many families have lost their means of survival. In general, in Uganda, 36% of the workers are females, and 64% are males. Most of them are employed in the primary industries of fishing, sugarcane farmworkers, quarries, restaurants/bars, and the commercial sex industry, which involve a more significant number of girls. Some girls are sent to larger cities to work as domestic helpers or are given to early marriage.

This is an aspect of the illness–poverty trap that is often overlooked. While it is commonly believed ill-health contributes to poverty, it is hardly recognized that people often cannot even gain access to health services because of poverty. A consensus is now emerging that poverty reduction is a critical component in improving a community's health, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the above income levels, the majority of the people cannot afford health care and proper nutrition. It is contended that a large proportion of youth is marginalized. The worst affected groups include school drop-outs, unemployed, rural youth, drug addicts, persons living with HIV/AIDS, victims of sexual abuse, and teenage mothers. Various estimates indicate that unemployment is the highest among the youth, especially between 18 and 35 years old.

The poverty profile affirms that young adults – especially between the ages of 15 and 24 are among the poorest of the poor. Youths have undergone violent and profound changes during Covid 19, with severe consequences for any meaningful attempts to reduce poverty in Uganda, particularly in Musoli.

The Covid 19 pandemic has worsened this problem because it exposed them to physical violence such as rape, looting, and drug abuse. The direct consequences of their poverty and widespread lack of productive engagement opportunities are illegal drug peddling, prostitution, and theft. Owing mainly to commercial sex, which many youths have adopted as a means of survival, the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases – including HIV/AIDS is on the rise.

The pace of rural-urban migration has also accelerated since Covid 19 in search of elusive opportunities, which provoke youth depression among the youth. Numerous youths have a psychosocial disturbances. They are social misfits and today swell the ranks of the unemployed and unemployable.

The current situation in Mayuge District presents two intersecting domains of the problem: the healthcare system's capacity to respond to the health problems of the community and the underlying factors that affect their income per capita. As far as the community's health status is concerned, a focus on maternal and child health and adolescent reproductive health is necessary to mitigate dire consequences. The people of Musoli are directly served by small drug shops and private clinics, which are not easily accessible and affordable to the general population, not to mention the quality of care given. The clinics could not handle maternal deliveries, severe malaria cases,  HIV testing, PMTCT services, TB cases, sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections, and pelvic inflammatory diseases, which were common among women. The clinics are persistently hit by a lack of drugs and other supplies due to inadequate funding and a flawed logistics system.

The underlying causes of ill health are socio-economic and behavioral. Socio-economic causes include revenues, housing, power relations, and decision-making processes. Behavioral or lifestyle factors include the aggregation of decisions by individuals that affect their health and control more or less.

So this Project aims at promoting the socio-economic resilience of 90 youth and improving access to better health care services in the Musoli Village by increasing job opportunities for the youth, incentivize youth participation in the community development activities, improving literacy, creating micro-enterprises, and improving the health conditions of the families.

Making progress in building resilience

The Project is being implemented by the Camillian Fathers and Brothers (CFB) in Uganda. CFB has recently done the community engagement, presentation of the Project to local public authorities, and the selection of beneficiaries according to rigorous criteria.

CFB has acquired 98% of the required official documents permitting this post-covid-19 resilience project in Uganda except for the official registration of the fishermen's cooperative and their boats for fishing. The government agencies concerned have responded positively to our requests.

The fishing program committee plans to form and register financial savings groups.  These saving groups will enable the sustainability of the Project after the Project terminates in three years. The groups agreed to contribute or invest 75% of their net income to save and maintain the fishing equipments. The percentage sets as a stimulus to the individual to engage in hard work and diligence. Moreover, procurement and negotiations of fishing supplies are ongoing as conducted by the committee. The committee has begun procuring Japan-made Yamaha motorboat engines from the Nile Fishing Company.  

After holding a series of interviews with the potential beneficiaries by the committee in-charged, a shortlist of beneficiaries has been produced - 60 youth for fishing and 30 girls to be enrolled in catering, hairdressing, and tailoring classes. The involvement of the local authorities is paramount in the process of selection since they constitute the stakeholders' team and the leading team to sustain this Project even after the three years of project implementation.

After all the leg workings, an orientation program commenced in May for the target beneficiaries coming from the five villages. The CFB committee decided to conduct the orientation seminars in the next three months, which include the following areas: career guidance, counseling, hygiene & sanitation, nutrition, advanced fishing skills, and business entrepreneurship. A well-organized team of trainers has been contracted. The CFB committee has discussed the terms and conditions of the trainers.

Last but not least is the increasing resilience of the healthcare system in the area. The Camillian Delegation of Uganda has initiated the construction of a health care facility before the conception of the CADIS post-Covid resilience building. CADIS supports this Project in establishing a maternity ward and the construction of multi-purpose social space. The building construction is advancing and targeting its completion within this year 2021.




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