Analysis of psychosocial support for children in post conflict Gulu District: A case study of Bobi Sub County
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The conflict in Northern Uganda is one of the most infamous and enduring tragedies of the twentieth century in Sub Saharan Africa. It has occasioned innumerable destruction and loss of both human life and property. The monetary value is more puzzling. Further more, this particular conflict has strangely and with intention used children as multi dimensional weapons by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). The main objective of the study was to analyze psychosocial support systems for children who participated in the war in post conflict Gulu District. The study was conducted in Gulu district because it was the center of the civil war; whose leadership and membership are predominantly natives. The study adopted an exploratory study design which utilized document review, interviews and FGDs methods. The study was conducted in Bobi Sub County in Gulu district. The study population entailed children between the age of 8-18 years inclusive, parents/guardians of the children, Public Officers comprising political leaders and Probation and Social Welfare Officers, teachers and religious leaders. Without exception, the study established that the families were the most vivid providers of psychosocial support for the children. Almost all the children affected by war in post conflict Gulu district confessed that they had adopted own coping mechanisms for the post war experience. Majority of the children revealed that the NGOs were very helpful because they paid their school fees, offered gratuities including clothes and toys, helped their parents and brought an end to the war. The most notable encumbrances included: lack of technical knowledge; inadequate resources; lack of coordination and integration; absence of a legal and institutional framework; prevalence of other priorities; perceived alienation of the region; inadequate cooperation and support from communities; inequity in resources distribution; corruption and misappropriation of resources; and poverty. Basing on the findings of the study, the researcher recommends that child experts be deployed by the local government to evaluate their cognitive state and propose the suitable interventions; the Central Government and the local Government should urgently support the children overcome their bitter past since the study found out that all the children had a first hand experience or account of the war; Psychosocial support providers (religious leaders and school teachers) who featured as the most active should be empowered by the Central government in order to improve on their services; the parliament of Uganda should work on a legal and institutional framework to govern effective provision of psychosocial support for the children in post conflict Gulu district; Government should prioritize the fight against corruption and misappropriation of resources, which has failed the proper implementation of several well intentioned projects; Government should focus on delivering support right at the grass root in order to adequately benefit the war affected community; and psychosocial support programs should involve the local community to eliminate the dependency syndrome and promote sustainability.