The access and provision of sexual and reproductive health services to youths (unmarried and married) has become a global issue in HIV/ AIDS era. Many teenagers and youths who become sexually active do so without accurate information about reproductive health.
Although Uganda is trying to achieve this, there is a significant need to make SRH services available to the rural regions of the country. The lack of information puts many women at a risk of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
In an effort to improve the reproductive health of this group (young people), serving organizations need to incorporate the gender aspect into sex education and service delivery together with a rights based approach.
The pearl of Africa, Uganda, is one of the many countries having the youngest populations in the world. With an annual growth rate of 3.2% and average bairth rate of 6.7 babies per woman, about 75% of the population is aged 24 years and below; almost half of the population (52%) is below the age of 15. Given this high proportion of young people the challenges that young people face are everincreasing. Today, teenage pregnancy is one of the most pressing challenges facing young people in Uganda.
The 2014 census indicates that of the 1.5 million pregnancies recorded in Uganda annually, over 25 per cent of these are teenage pregnancies. These teenagers who get pregnant account for the bulk of unwanted pregnancies, which end up in unintended births or abortion. Causes of these pregnancies are socio-economic and cultural with poverty identified as the leading cause as many teens are lured into having unprotected sex for money and gifts. Other causes are lack of access to adolescent and youth sexual reproductive health services, sexual violence like rape and defilement.
Related stories have shown that young girls between 13 – 16 years are either raped, lured into sex due to ignorance and money, and/or incest by family members. Others have been engaged into sex get jobs due to low incomes received by their families, early marriages, need for school fees, among others. Teenage pregnancies have led to school dropouts, homeless and hope-less young girls, and acquisition of HIV/AIDS. Pregnant adolescents are in a dark void of helplessness and hopelessness, waiting to be rescued.
Uganda, like many other countries in Africa has prioritized education of children especially girl Child education. This has been achieved through the Universal Primary Education (UPE) introduced in 1997 that led to a rise in enrolment and massive entry of girls into the education system. According to the 2013 Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) Gender Audit, enrolment in primary was 50.11% for girls and 49.9% for boys. However, these gains are undermined by the challenges faced by girls in completing the primary cycle. A recent study by UNESCO revealed that Uganda has the highest dropout rate in East Africa with up to 75% of the pupils dropping out, most of which are girls. The high enrolment levels in the early years of primary school are eroded later by high dropout rates especially of girls. The reasons why girls may not go to school and drop out are categorized in socio-cultural, economic, policy related and political. The major factors affecting school attendance include poverty and the high cost of education coupled with ignorance and socio cultural beliefs and traditions briefs. As far as policy is concerned, the primary school curriculum is not responsive to the needs of the community in general and women in particular. Education institutions are inadequate with poorly paid teachers, exclusion of pregnant girls from school. UPE fails to addresses the problem since the decision on which child should benefit from "free" education still lies with guardians who have to pay the remaining expenses involved.
There is a decline of forest cover in Mityana district; some people have felled a lot of trees and other plants for settlement and agriculture. The youths have followed suit-in the catastrophic, ignorant act of degrading our environment because of dire needs to create means of survival. RWI has raised concern to sensitize community to desist from depending on forests to earn their living. Over 74% of Ugandans still use fire wood as their main source of energy. It is expected that fuel wood will continue to be the major source of cooking fuel to the poor peasant Ugandans source of fuel in Uganda.
Mityana district is one of the areas in Uganda which depend entirely on rain-fed agriculture. In the past few years, rainfall patterns have become unpredictable making it hard for farmers to decide when and what to plant. The most common aspect of climate change in Mityana is prolonged dry seasons. Failure to plant at the right time, bad choice of seeds, and use of poor agronomic practices has often led to low crop yields, especially of maize. Low crop yields have caused food scarcity and low household incomes since there is very little or no excess food for sale. In addition, failure to organize marketing of farm produce also results in low household incomes. Furthermore, most farmers do not have access to credit that would enable them recover from a bad season. Consequently, the community suffers from undernourishment and general poverty. The farmers need practical training and financial assistance to start the process of implementing the interventions which would make them less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Uganda's demographic profile is one of the country's most salient development challenges (Daumerie and Madsen, 2010). Compelled by a very high population growth rate of 3.03% translating to nearly seven children per woman, it is not hard to imagine the challenges that the people encounter to access services. This population growth rate creates strain on the country's resources including arable land as the majority of people live in the rural areas. ICT services are no exception to the high population growth rates. Consumption of these services is mainly present in the urban areas than the rural areas. There exists a digital divide between the urban areas and the rural areas. To be more specific, there are major technological, gender and content divides between these two settings. The technological divide is due to poor infrastructure in the rural areas. Urban areas are given priority in infrastructure development by both the government and private sector because of the high monetary returns on investment.
The content divide relates so much on literacy levels. Most (about 75%) of the websites available globally are in English suffocating the few available in local languages and yet most rural areas have low levels of literacy. The gender divide has women and girls having less access to information technology than the men and boys. Therefore access in rural areas is limited due to poor infrastructure, high levels illiteracy and high costs of connectivity coupled with lack of technical expertise to implement and deliver services effectively. These are major impediments preventing women from using ICTs for development.
ICTs have many benefits to women like
• Access to ICT can enable women to gain a stronger voice in their communities and Government in order to hold them accountable on issues concerning service delivery.
• They improve access to information on issues like market prices for agricultural produce, health and reproductive health services. These are key areas which most rural women need to access information on.
• They act as alternatives to formal education equipping women with employable skills. This means that ICTs create employment opportunities for women where men are dominant.