Stakeholders participation in the reintegration of formerly abducted children in Northern Uganda: A case study of Gulu Municipality
Opu, Pamela Mutoni
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The purpose of the study was to investigate the participation of stakeholders in the reintegration of formerly abducted children in Gulu municipality following the cessation of the conflict in Northern Uganda. The study was prompted by observations and media reports of the continued plight of formerly abducted children in Gulu municipality despite interventions by the government of Uganda and other stakeholders. Specifically the study sought to assess the role of the government of Uganda in the reintegration of formerly abducted children in Gulu municipality, to establish the contribution of humanitarian agencies and the civil society in the reintegration of formerly abducted children in Gulu municipality, to evaluate the participation of other stakeholders in transforming the lives of formerly abducted children in Gulu municipality. A case study design based on a field survey was adopted and a total sample of 100 respondents including 60 formerly abducted children in four divisions of Gulu municipality and 40 key informants was covered. This was based on the conviction that the stakeholders determined the outcome of the reintegration of the formerly abducted children in Gulu municipality. The primary data was collected using semi-structured questionnaires and focus group discussions in order to gauge perception of reintegration and levels of participation. Consequently, both qualitative and quantitative data were collected on the post-conflict recovery programs and their integration of formerly abducted children from the field work in Gulu district. The results of the study revealed that the contribution of the government of Uganda towards the attempted reintegration of formerly abducted children was quite modest compared to that of NGOs. It was further indicated that the formerly abducted children and the local communities were not actively involved in planning and implementing reintegration and recovery programs. The study also established that the government of Uganda was a service provider rather than a regulator during the reintegration process. Consequently, in order to improve the reintegration of formerly abducted children in Gulu municipality, the study recommended that, the government of Uganda plays a more active role by designing its own National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration program to cater for the specific needs of formerly abducted children and other returnees associated with the LRA. It was also recommended that, there should be active involvement of the formerly abducted children and the local communities in all aspects of reintegration and post conflict recovery programs and that, NGOs should operate in an atmosphere of strict supervision and regulation by the government of Uganda.