By Uganda Online Media
Iteso Cultural Union has partnered with World Vision Uganda to end violence against children and teenage pregnancies in the Teso sub-region which have been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic characterized by lockdowns and closure of schools.
Records from various districts across the region indicate that more than 30,000 girls of school-going age were impregnated between 2020 and 2021.
The most affected is the Amuria district which registered over 11,000 pregnancies within one and half years, according to Edward Khaukha, the World Vision Regional Manager in the area.
The other districts like Katakwi recorded more than 6,000 teenage pregnancies while others had between 1,000 to 4,000 cases.
Khaukha noted that through the partnership, the two entities will ensure that children are protected, educated, and have access to integrated health and improved livelihood.
Valerian Ejalu, the Iteso Cultural Union Deputy Prime Minister said many parents have forgotten their responsibilities and left the children to fend for themselves. Ejalu says that because of disgruntled families, children are now finding their own ways to survive, something he notes has affected the morals of the youngsters.
But Amuria Resident District Commissioner, Lilian Eyal tasked Iteso Cultural Union to take lead in changing the morals and lifestyle of children in Teso by engaging clan leaders in mobilization.
“You command a lot of respect because everybody feels for their clan and culture. When you get reports on education, can you help us find out which clans are not sending their children to school? Can we name and shame these clans so that they wake up?”, she asked.
Eyal challenged Emorimor and Iteso Cultural Union to take lead in ending child marriage by stopping clan leaders from getting involved in marriages where girls have not attained maturity age.
Rev. Fr. Robert Ecogu, the Vicar General Soroti Catholic Diocese says the situation of Teso children has been worsened by the lockdown which kept children at home for almost two years. He commended the effort by World Vision in engaging cultural institutions in finding solutions to the problem.
Additional Reporting By URN