Android Tablets Aid Advocates for Vulnerable Children

Photo by Flavia Lanyero/CRS

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Social workers in Uganda, and the world over, play a significant role in protecting the rights of children. And while the instinct to protect children may come naturally, the legal process is anything but intuitive.

In Uganda, social workers often find themselves hampered as they navigate laws, policies and frameworks when handling child protection cases—cases that often include family violence, child abuse and neglect. When child safety is at stake, help cannot come fast enough. The situation demands efficiency. Unfortunately, the system was not set up that way—though people are now working to change that.  

Mary Nakazibwe uses a tablet distributed by the USAID/PEPFAR funded 4Children Uganda Systems Strengthening Project to help social workers better access laws, policies and frameworks in child protection. Photo by Flavia Lanyero/CRS

“We used to carry reference materials with us to court, which were very bulky. It was also time consuming. In some cases, we had to request more time as we looked for the laws,” said Mary Nakazibwe, a senior probation and social welfare officer.

Without ready reference to the country’s legal code, social workers were ill-equipped to prevent child abusers from getting away with their crimes. Indeed, some social workers admit to only doing what they could without knowing all the laws available to them.

Now, in a bid to strengthen the capacity of social workers in Uganda, the Coordinating Comprehensive Care for Children—or 4Children—Systems Strengthening Project has a solution. 4Children distributed Android tablets equipped with legal policies and frameworks, learning resources, reporting tools, and contacts of officials. The initiative is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development through The Presidents’ Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. 

More than 350 government officials at the national and district levels received the tablets—including the Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development’s national staff, District Community Development officers, and Probation and Social Welfare officers.

James Ebitu, the director for Social Protection at the Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development says this is a landmark event in the history of Uganda’s social service workforce.

Social workers use newly distributed Android tablets distributed by the USAID/PEPFAR funded 4Children Uganda Systems Strengthening Project to speed access to laws, policies and other information. Photo by Flavia Lanyero/CRS

“We have had challenges with capacity gaps in skills and equipment, but this is a move in the right direction,” Ebitu says. “The distribution of the android tablet is in line with the e-government regulation to provide services in an efficient and cost-effective manner,” he adds.

Users are pleased the tablets offer wide access to vital information.

“This tablet is very beneficial. When you want to refer to a law or policy, it is just a click away,” says Zaina Nakubulwa, a supervisor in the office of Orphans and Vulnerable Children at Kampala Capital City Authority.

“We have previously worked with children without knowing some laws, but now we have them all in one place, which will make our work easier,” says Joan Luswata, a probation and social welfare officer.

The 4Children System Strengthening Project is addressing a critical need, helping orphans and children across Uganda access their legal rights. The project goal is to strengthen the social service workforce, improve monitoring and evaluation for data-driven decision-making—and, most importantly, to give social workers the resources they need to protect vulnerable children.



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