Empowering Health Workers

Arinda Isaac’s story | Empowering Health Workers to Provide Youth Friendly SRHR Services.

Increasing the utilization of sexual and reproductive services is greatly dependent on the positive attitude of the health workers towards its provision to young people of ages 15-24. It is for this reason that Shared Action Africa is amplifying the contribution made by Isaac Arinda, a health worker and advocate for increased utilization and access of sexual and reproductive care of adolescents and young people at Nshungyezi HCIII in Oruchinga refugee settlement. Prior to receiving specialized training, Isaac had a very poor attitude towards adolescents and young people that sought sexual and reproductive care at the health facility where he worked. Like other members of his community, he though that providing contraceptives to young people was tantamount to promoting promiscuity among these age group. However, after the training he provided, it was he has been one of the biggest advocates for adolescent sexual and reproductive rights among his peers.

“As health workers, we often are not interested in helping young people access sexual and reproductive health care due to our own personal biases, beliefs, and prejudices. Prior to my training on adolescent sexual and reproductive health care and rights, I was among those health workers would decline to serve young people because I believed I would be perpetuating moral decadency in our community. However, after learning that access and use of SRHR services is a human right, but also that it works as a preventive measure against several societal evils such as unplanned and teenage pregnancies, I was won over.

It is for this reason, that when the first youth friendly space was established at Nshungyezi health facility, I applied to be the person in charge of managing this space. I am therefore happy to be working in partnership with Shared Action Africa to provide counselling to the youth and I feel honored to be the person privileged to pilot such as initiative that will have a lasting impact among our communities. This is because when young people are offered an opportunity to access services and information concerning their reproductive health, we would be mitigating against early childhood pregnancies and are rampant in the settlement.

I am confident this will happen gradually because I am part of the team that is promoting voluntary family planning among young people, and also encourage them to not only conduct regular testing for HIV, but also advise them to always use protection whenever they uninformed about their partner’s HIV status. However, for those that find themselves in a situation where they have had unprotected sex, we provide them with not only emergency contraceptive but also encourage them to seek Prep treatment to prevent HIV infection.

However, while we have established a youth friendly corner at Nshungezi HCIII, we need further support to help equip it so that young people are encouraged to come and come interact with others as they are counselled on their sexual and reproductive health care and rights as well as receive services that meet their needs. There has been an integration of youth friendly services in outreaches as this gives the youth a chance to confidently show up and participate in health education talks. We have also allocated Saturdays as a special day for them to attend to the youth. “

Isaac Alinda, offering counselling on sexual and productive care to a young lady.

Communal Gardening

Communal Gardening | Women’s Economic Empowerment and Food Security

We are committed to promoting sustainable access to enough food, proper nutrition and incomes for refugee women. Through forming collectives advocating for increased allocation to land as a resource of production, refugee women are able to influence strategies and policies to promote their livelihood. From allocation of land plots from 40 by 80 feet to at least three quarters to an acre for agricultural production, refugee women are achieving such results through engaging duty bearers. Through advocacy actions such as developing strategies, tactics in engaging duty bearers, submitting petitions and follow up, refugee women are evolving into leaders that are influencing their communities in Nakivale refugee settlement.

“With the increased allocation to land, I am able to practice better methods of farming and resultantly improve my production for food security and nutrition as well as income generation,” 41-year-old Julie (DRC) caretaker of 7 family members.”

Monique’s Story

Monique’s Story | Sustainable Energy and Climate Justice

SAA supported 10 refugee women in Nakivale Refugee Settlement with cook stoves to promote the use of energy efficient cook stoves given the limited access to fuel in the settlement.

26-year-old Monique mother of two and a refugee from Rwanda was among the beneficiaries who testify that having a cookstove has reduced the amount of effort in terms of time and energy she puts into preparing meals.

‘’My name is Monique Makengo. Through the trainings and support from Shared Action Africa, I saved up UGX 800,000 which I used to buy the energy saving stove. I was tired of using firewood for cooking and it was becoming scarce with the high rate of cutting of trees in the settlement. I used to walk long distances (about 3 Kms) to get firewood in that I had to close my shop; this made me lose out on income during this time. In addition, I had no one to leave my three young children with hence I had to request neighbors to keep them whenever I went to get firewood. so that I can stop using firewood for cooking. I also had to wake up in very early in the morning at times which was uncomfortable and very tiring.

With the cook stove, I don’t have to go through all the trouble since I use one bag of saw dust. I also spend less i.e. from UGX 88,000 on fuel to UGX 10,000 on saw dust per month. In addition, the cook stove is less straining in lighting up. I use less time to prepare meals from 4.5 hours to at least 3 hours a day. I use this time for my business and spending time with my saving group as we learn different things. I also get to boil our drinking water which was not the case before since I was sparing the firewood. The cook stove is also smoke free which makes the cooking experience a delight. There is such a high demand for these stoves in my community especially among the women due to their health benefits as well as their cost effectiveness.

Though it may seem like a small item, this cook stove has changed my life in so many ways. I am grateful to Shared Action Africa for this support.”

Nalongo Kinene’s Story

Nalongo Kinene’s Story | Energy & Women’s Economic Empowerment

Shared Action Africa has an Eco fund that supports women both in business and homes to get cooks stoves on credit to support their work.

58-year Nalongo Kinene a food vendor in Nakawa market is grateful for having got the cook stoves in doing her 15-year business.

I purchased a cook stove in 2019 on credit of UGX 900,000 which I was able to pay back. Using this eco stove has reduced my fuel expenses. When I used traditional biomass, I needed 2 bags of charcoal per month each costing UGX 100,000 making a total of UGX 200,000 per month ($54.79). However, with the eco stove I use one sack of charcoal dust per month which I get at UGX 8,000/= ($2.18). With this saving I was able to repay my loan in time.

I also prepare meals within shorter time i.e. from 7 hours to 5 hours now. This saves me time which I put to other use in business. Moreover, timely preparation of meals is important in my business because I am able to provide food for my clients with in a short time. This is because the stove has the ability to emit maximum energy needed to cook fast because it has been designed in such a way that the user can moderate the amount of energy needed to suit their cooking needs.

The eco cook stove too does not emit fumes when lighting it unlike the traditional charcoal stove that needs a lot of papers to light it up. It also has a proper storage compartment for the ash which makes it easy for me to collect the ash at the end of the day when I am done with the cooking and dispose it off well. Ash does not get littered as I do the cooking because the ash compartment is well enclosed. This keeps my cooking place clean and hygienic.

Ecostoves are good for business and homes. I believe that many people especially in urban areas would like to acquire them.