Adolescent Girls in Crisis
The project in brief
The project is implemented by Plan International in Adjumani District, West Nile region, Uganda. Its first phase started in July 2019 and ended in June 2022, the second phase started in July 2022 and ended in June 2025.
The Adolescent Girls in Crisis project is a unique program designed to address specific needs and priorities for adolescent girls in a protracted crisis context which is led by adolescent girls themselves. The project applies an integrated and comprehensive approach to address the challenges faced by girls in all diversity and strengthen their capacity to achieve economic, reproductive, and leadership potential.
The project aims at ensuring that adolescent girls and young mothers (10-24 years) are enjoying their rights and reaching their full potential.
Elements that facilitated the implementation of the project included:
- Dedicated development money to fund the project
- Internal partnerships with Plan Australia, Centre of Excellence for technical support and externally with government of Uganda Office of the Prime Minister
- Alignment with the Government of Uganda’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) under Pillars 2 and 3, which focus on emergency response and ongoing need, and resilience and self-reliance of the CRRF respectively, as well as Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 5 which focuses on gender equality. Alignment with the Uganda Gender policy which aims to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, the Anti- Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) 2010 policy, which prohibits female genital mutilation and includes provisions for offense and protection of girls and women under threat of Female Genital Mutilation and the penal code article 20 which defines rape and defilement.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Adolescent Girls in Crisis is path breaking as it applies Plan’s adolescent girls in crises centric frameworks and tools that enables age, gender and context specific approaches. Endline evaluation of Phase 1 provides evidence of change resulting from the models and strategies applied. Based on learning from Adolescent Girls in Crisis 1.0 and assessment, visioning exercise with young people, Theory of Change (ToC) was developed for Adolescent Girls in Crisis 2.0. The current project has refined the potential approaches to suit the emerging needs and dynamic environment.
The project is using a combination of different models like the Life Skills package for adolescents and parents, Youth Savings Groups, Enterprise Your Life, and Champion of Change. The girl-friendly safe spaces and the mentor support model offer support to adolescent girls and young mothers in the refugee settlements and host communities of Pagirinya and Boroli. Through the models, the mentors are able to provide support to adolescent girls and young mothers from both the safe space and the community. The model is effective in addressing the immediate and long-term needs of adolescents and young mothers. The project used the Adolescent in Emergency Programming Toolkit and learning emerging from it is fundamental in understanding key barriers, and priorities of adolescent girls and tailoring interventions to meet specific barriers and needs as well as in scaling up within the Plan and rollout of the toolkit globally.
Through the different models, the project has empowered girls to practice healthy behaviors in their families and refugee or community settings, develop peer networks, strengthen their decision-making and goal-setting skills, and build their knowledge of reproductive health, financial literacy, and report instances of violence.
Specifically, through the Champion of Change (CoC) model, the project engages men and boys as allies in preventing violence against girls/women. The the Champion of Change sessions help in the transformation of male dominance to positive masculinity and acceptance of Adolescent girls and young mothers into leadership roles. This model looks at boys and men as part of the solution to transform discriminatory gender norms and practices other than being sources of gender inequality.
- Overcomers Women Activists (OWA) Adjumani, Uganda (Local NGO/CSO)
- Train a Girl Uganda (TAGU), Uganda (Local NGO/CSO)
- Plan International Australia (internal partnership)
- Centre of Excellence in Displaced Settings (internal partnership)
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
The movement of project participants including mentors to and from the project location has affected the smooth implementation of project activities which affects the overall impact of the project.
Some participants are still struggling to accept reality as opposed to tradition and cultural beliefs when it comes to gender and its related concepts. Their perceptions are still closely linked to their own backgrounds and orientation.
How they were overcome
To address the issue of the movement of project participants to and from the project location, the project is working closely with local leadership in both the refugee and host communities to try and locate project participants where necessary, and in some instances, replace them since several most at-risk adolescents are not targeted by the project.
To address issues related to tradition and cultural beliefs, the project is working with the different structures in the community such as religious leaders, clan leaders, community leaders, and the boys4change groups to support behavior change and gender transformation.
Results of the Good Practice
- The life skills sessions improved the well-being of adolescent girls and young mothers and built their resilience to overcome adverse experiences and adopt behaviors that help them to stay safe from violence, abuse, and exploitation.
- The Youth Savings Group and Enterprise Your Life models have supported adolescents, young mothers, and their partners to save, borrow loans and make wise investments hence increased ability to provide for their families.
- Improved parenting skills which have promoted self-care, healthy adolescent development, and positive parenting skills among the parents/caregivers of adolescents.
- Trained health workers on the provision of youth-friendly services and conducted integrated health outreaches which have contributed greatly to improving the health-seeking behavior of adolescents, young mothers, and their partners.
In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
The Youth Saving Groups (YSGs) and Enterprise Your Life (EYL) models have supported adolescent girls and young mothers to develop saving practices, build their financial literacy and learn basic entrepreneurship skills. With the adoption of the saving culture, adolescent girls and young mothers were able to open their own businesses and are ably living a meaningful life thus reducing their vulnerability to violence, abuse, and exploitation and thereby empowering them to be self-reliant.
The project is already in its second phase, and there is likelihood of extending this project to other refugee settlements. Adolescent Girls in Crisis is path breaking as it applies Plan’s adolescent girls in crises centric frameworks and tools that enables age, gender and context specific approaches. Endline evaluation of Phase 1 provides evidence of change resulting from the models and strategies applied. Based on learning from Adolescent Girls in Crisis 1.0 and assessment, visioning exercise with young people, Theory of Change (ToC) was developed for Adolescent Girls in Crisis 2.0. The current project has refined the potential approaches to suit the emerging needs and dynamic environment. Additionally, endline evaluation highlighted the project has contributed to the improved uptake of public services like protection and health, enhanced life skills and livelihood opportunities for Adolescent Girls and Young Mothers increased engagement with adolescent boys on positive masculinities and gender equality. The recommendations were to achieve sustainable results the underlying causes need to be targeted and poor parenting skills of young parents in displaced settings should be considered in next phase of the program and beyond. Further funding will enable sustainable gains and positively impact more adolescent girls and young mothers in the refugee settlements in Northern Uganda.
Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?
- Project will require support with additional funding to continue with Adolescent Girls in Crisis Phase 2 pilot of working with two local partners, Overcomers Women Activists (OWA) and Train a Girl Uganda (TAGU), to support implementation of the project in a selected thematic area. The rationale behind selecting the Civil Society Organisations is twofold: one, to support the localisation agenda and two, to prepare local organisations to build on the achievements of the project and sustain the outcomes.
- Support with sustaining adoption of sustainable reproductive health solutions which are friendly and accessible in a humanitarian context will bring positive long-lasting changes in adolescent girls and young mothers. These include piloting menstrual cups and creating acceptability around its use whilst training them on making reusable pads so as to not restrict options.
- Pamela Lubik, Adolescent Girls in Crisis Project Manager
- Sharon Chikanya Team Leader - Centre of Excellence: Adolescent Girls in Displaced Setting - [email protected]