To continue with the good work started under the Socio-Economic Empowerment of Female Inmates in West Nile Project, a project which strictly catered to the rehabilitation and reintegration needs of women prison inmates, Advance Afrika received additional support from the European Union to implement a two-and-a-half-year action, the “Empowering Local Communities to Prevent Violence against Women and Children in West Nile” (ELVWC) project, with the objective of empowering women and children in Koboko and Arua districts to live peaceful and dignified lives as they enjoy their economic, social and cultural rights. The project was implemented in partnership with the Uganda Prisons Service and Partners in Community Transformation (PICOT).
The intervention had two overall outcomes: Oc1) Female (ex-)inmates have access to improved and impactful rehabilitation and reintegration services; Oc2) Community structures actively engage in changing attitudes, perceptions and practices regarding respect for women’s and children’s rights.
Only 4% of all prison inmates are female. It doesn’t surprise, then, that most of the information on prison inmates and, consequently, most interventions designed for inmates focus on the needs and experiences of male inmates. In a world where women are still structurally discriminated against, it is imperative to develop gender-specific interventions in all fields, including the rehabilitation and reintegration of female prison inmates.
This paper brings together the lessons learnt and recommendations from interventions implemented with the Uganda Prisons Service in Lango, Acholi and West Nile. Successful rehabilitation and reintegration can only be achieved through partnerships and commitment by all stakeholders. Thus, this paper lobbies for the active involvement of local government structures.
Strategic Goal 1:
Transformation of vulnerable individuals and communities
During 2019, several interventions implemented responded to issues of reintegration of vulnerable (ex-)prison inmates whose cases related to violent conflicts in their communities and gender-based violence, and of strengthening the capacities of existing structures to rehabilitate and reintegrate youths in order to address the root cause of such issues in order to bring about positive change. For example, interventions implemented in partnership with Uganda Prisons Services (UPS) and funded by the EU, CACH, AGEH and the German Embassy in prison units in Lango, Acholi and West Nile have proven the impact of rehabilitation and reintegration services in reforming inmates. This is noted below.
In 2016, Advance Afrika, together with Caritas Switzerland, received funding from the European Union to expand its social reintegration efforts of ex-prison inmates in northern Uganda. As a result, the Economic Empowerment and Social Reintegration of Youth Ex-Prisoners project, a three-year action implemented by Advance Afrika in partnership with the Uganda Prisons Service with funding from the European Union and Caritas Switzerland, was launched. The project focused on the social economic rehabilitation and reintegration of 1,200 youth prisoners in 28 prison units in the Acholi and Lango sub-regions in northern Uganda.
North Uganda is still recovering from a two decades-long civil war that ended in 2006. The consequences on infrastructure, education, development and so on will last for a long time. In addition, the country is facing high unemployment among youth and the population keeps growing at a very high rate, to the point that many speak about a “demographic bomb”. While countless people are struggling, a specific category of Ugandan is especially vulnerable to poverty, stigmatization and discrimination: young inmates. With an occupation rate higher than 300%1, Ugandan prisons are among the most crowded in the world. While the government is putting real effort towards rehabilitation, numerous challenges are likely to be faced by ex-inmates once released.
The Economic Empowerment and Social Reintegration of Youth Ex-prisoners (SREE) project is a three-year intervention implemented by Advance Afrika in partnership with Uganda Prisons Service (UPS) with support and funding from Caritas Switzerland and the European Union. The project focuses on the socio-economic rehabilitation and reintegration of 1,200 youth prisoners in 26 prison units in the Acholi and Lango sub-regions in northern Uganda. The project seeks to contribute to promoting economic development, good governance and the prevention of crime and social or political insecurity.