Next month, Educate! will launch our program expansion in Northern Uganda. This post-conflict area is the most impoverished region of Uganda – the poverty rate, at 43.7%, is nearly twice as high as the next-poorest region of Uganda, and more than two times the national average. After 23 years of conflict, two million people in Northern Uganda were uprooted from their homes and over 20,000 youth were abducted.
Educate! has high potential to create an exponential impact in this unique and challenging region. In 2016, we will be working in 80 additional schools in this region and reaching over 25,000 youth facing joblessness and struggling with the psychological impacts of war.
How did we prepare to operate in the region’s unique environment?
1. Learning best practices and listening to the community
Thanks to our partner Segal Family Foundation, Richard Luuba, Educate! Senior Program Officer, was able to travel to Northern Uganda to study best practices for Educate!’s expansion into the region. In a thought-provoking article he wrote for HuffPost Impact, he shares his insights on the importance of local leadership and community empowerment. Read the full article.
2. Experimenting with innovative solutions
The new areas we are expanding to in Northern Uganda are more spread out with lower school densities than our current districts. To prepare for working in this new environment, we experimented by combining two of our current remote districts to simulate conditions in the North. We’ve made several program adjustments based on this simulation, such as reducing field staff travel, which will inform program implementation in the North. We were pleased to see that the changes made throughout the year in our experiment districts have led to concrete improvements to program implementation in these districts.
3. Expanding our Uganda Team
More than anything else, successful implementation in this post-conflict region depends on the expertise and buy-in of people who are from the community and for the community. For this reason, we spent the last months of 2015 investing heavily in hiring the management team and staff who will lead our expansion into Northern Uganda, all of whom are from the region. Read more about the amazing team leading the charge.