Kabale, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Probation officers in Kigezi are asking for increased funding to enable them to increase their efforts in curbing the surging teenage pregnancies in the region.
According to records from the probation office, more than 7,000 underage girls have been impregnated in the six districts of the Kigezi region during the COVID-19 lockdown. Kanungu has registered 1,401 cases, 71 in Rukiga, 2,628 in Kabale, 76 in Kisoro and 1,159 in Rubanda.
Probation officers however say that despite the increase in the number of cases, their offices are yet to make any meaningful interventions on the plight of the girls, due to limited funding. The interventions include providing counselling to the girls and sensitizing parents about dealing with teenage mothers.
Kabale District Senior Probation and Welfare Officer Monica Mumumuza Nzeirwe, says that despite the overwhelming number of teenage pregnancies, the efforts to counter the problem are still lacking. As a result, they are holding meetings with other offices to forge a way forward of reducing cases that are not being affected fully.
Muhumuza however says that they are only helped by the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) Foundation, an Italian based non-government organization that provided funding in terms of fuel purchase to help in following up cases and other challenges involving teenagers in communities.
Keti Twebaze, the Kanungu District Senior Probation and Welfare Officer says that in the last quarter, her office was only given 760,000 Shillings to fight against teenage pregnancies and other challenges affecting teenagers. Twebaze says that the money was only tagged to transporting teenage offenders to Kabale remand home.
Jennifer Tumusimire, the Senior Probation and Welfare Officer for Rukungiri district says her office receives five million Shillings every financial year out of the required 10 million Shillings. As a result, her office struggles to rescue abandoned toddlers and offering care for them.
Rubanda District Probation and Welfare Officer Joyce Kenganzi says that her office receives only 4 million Shillings every financial year, but considering the hilly terrain of the district, the money needs to be doubled to enable them to carry out sensitization and follow-up cases.
Martin Kasagara Kiiza, the Executive Director of the National Children Authority, a department under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development says that the Gender minister is aware of the limited funding to probation offices, but advises probation officers to use all available means to reduce teenage pregnancies in their districts.