Follow-up and assessment mission to Uganda and Ethiopia
Executive Director Ms. Elisa Mikkola and Project coordinator Ms. Sari Naskinen from KIOS visited Uganda and Ethiopia for two weeks in April-May 2008. Both countries belong to the geographical focus area of KIOS. The Foundation has funded several projects in Uganda over the years, while in Ethiopia the cooperation with local organizations is only about to begin.
In Uganda the team visited the ongoing projects funded by KIOS, and got acquainted with other organisations that are possible candidates for the financial support provided by KIOS. In Ethiopia the purpose of the journey was to get to know local human rights organisations that KIOS could cooperate with in the future. For the time being there is only one project KIOS is funding in Ethiopia.
During the two-week-long trip to East Africa, Ms. Mikkola and Ms. Naskinen visited all the projects in Uganda currently funded by KIOS. The team participated in the regional meeting of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, where human rights defenders from all over the Eastern Africa were present. “There has been an alarming change in the human rights situation in East Africa recently”, the Executive Director Mikkola points out. “In Kenya, for example, the human rights defenders have faced harassment after the elections in December.” In the meeting the human rights defenders shared their recent experiences, and the participants planned the future activities of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network. KIOS is supporting the Network for the second time now, and the Network is currently expanding to Rwanda and Burundi, which are also new focus countries of KIOS.
“This is why the local community is convinced the project is committed to its objectives and can achieve something extraordinary.”
The newest KIOS funded project in Uganda focuses on women’s rights and is implemented by National Association for Women Organisations in Uganda. The new project was about to begin at the time of the visit, and the representatives of KIOS had a chance to participate in the stakeholder meeting in Kayunga district. The aim of the project is to train women leaders on women’s human rights. ”The most impressive aspect of this project is that they have trainings even in the most remote areas of Kayunga district”, praises Ms. Mikkola. “This is why the local community is convinced the project is committed to its objectives and can achieve something extraordinary.”
Other KIOS project partners in Kampala are Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) and African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV). Both of these organizations are well established human rights actors doing groundbreaking work. FHRI is the one of the largest human rights organisations in the country working with multiple issues. KIOS is supporting capacity building trainings offered by FHRI for small paralegal groups. KIOS support for ACTV contributes to their work in rehabilitating victims of torture, visiting prisons and training authorities.
“It is wonderful to see how ACODEV has been able to do a lot of awareness raising and networking, even if their resources have been Limited”
In the Western Uganda, in Kasese district, works one of the newest KIOS project partners Action for Community Development (ACODEV). KIOS has provided support for ACODEV’s Domestic Violence Prevention And Support Project. During the follow-up visit the project was about to be completed. “It is wonderful to see how ACODEV has been able to do a lot of awareness raising and networking, even if their resources have been limited”, says Ms. Mikkola. “There seemed to be representatives of all the organisations and authorities working in the region present, and they were all committed to work for women’s rights.”
”The situation of the human rights organisations in Ethiopia is difficult with the government tightening its policies continuously”
In Ethiopia the team met with 12 local organisations working for human rights. The discussions focused on the work of the organisations and the general human rights situation in the countries. ”The situation of the human rights organisations in Ethiopia is difficult with the government tightening its policies continuously”, says Mikkola. “After the elections in 2005 the work of the civil society has been made more difficult by increasing bureaucracy and regulations, but also with harassment of human rights defenders.”
Nevertheless, also new organisations working for human rights have been established in recent years in Ethiopia, besides the established ones that continue working.
The only project KIOS is funding at the moment in Ethiopia is Girls human rights violation reduction program through early marriage prevention by Ethiopian Human Rights and Civic Education Promotion Association (EHRCEPA).
The project is implemented in Ensaro district, where 80 % of girls get married underage. “We had a chance to take part in a community meeting organized by EHRCEPA and to become acquainted with the activities of a child rights club”, says Mikkola. “The facilitators of EHRCEPA are very competent. They have encouraged all the members of the community, even the young girls to share their experiences and views for the community, which I am sure has not been an easy job to do.” As KIOS seeks to provide more support to Ethiopian organisations, promotion of women’s and girls rights will be one of the thematic focuses.
- National Association of Women Organisations in Uganda
- Action for Community Development – Uganda
- African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims
- Foundation For Human Rights Initiative
- East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
- Ethiopian Human Rights and Civic Education Promotion Association