Understanding child vulnerability in rural Uganda: determinants of vulnerability transition and schooling
This study aimed at examining the determinants of vulnerability transition and schooling among vulnerable children in rural Uganda. The central argument of this study is that individual and household characteristics differ, and therefore the effect of programmatic interventions on household and child vulnerability also differs. The three specific objectives included: examining the determinants of transition from critical vulnerability among children in rural Uganda, investigating the determinants of schooling in the context of vulnerable children in rural Uganda, and exploring the differences in vulnerability transition in households affected and unaffected by HIV/AIDS. The assessment is based on a pre and post-study of a cohort of 17,484 vulnerable households and children from 35 districts of Uganda that were enrolled in the SCORE project. Vulnerability assessment data collected between 2011 and 2014 from 35 districts of Uganda by USAID’s Sustainable Comprehensive Responses for Vulnerable Children Project was analyzed. For objectives one and three, the study based the analysis on a pre and post-examination of a cohort of 17,484 records and 18,532 for objective 2. The dependent variable, “vulnerability transition” was the decrease in vulnerability status between the baseline year (2011) and the end line year (2014). A vulnerability transition was defined as any decrease in vulnerability status from one higher category to another. The analysis was done using STATA 13.0 at the three stages for each of the pre-defined objectives of the study. The study found out that transition from vulnerability is influenced by household and individual characteristics (p<0.05) namely: region, parenthood status, chronic diseases, household size as well as participation in Economic Strengthening, Child Protection, and Family strengthening activities. The following were less likely to transition out of vulnerability; households in East Central (OR=0.86), Northern (OR=0.50), and Southwestern (OR=O.82) region, households with a child living with a disability (OR=0.71) and Father (OR=0.83) or mother absent (OR=0.79). 1However, households that participated in the programmatic activities namely, economic strengthening (OR=1.07), child protection and access to legal services (OR=1.09), and family strengthening (OR=1.06) were more likely to transition. In terms of education, the following children were less likely to be enrolled in school (p<0.05): Males (OR=0.92), children abusing substances (OR = 0.92), have a chronic disease status (OR=0.69), eat fewer meals (twice a day (OR=0.93) and once a day (OR=0.66), and those whose vulnerability status was critical at baseline (OR=0.44). Furthermore, children in households where the main contributor of income was a grandparent (OR=1.26), or a mother (OR=1.37) were more likely to be enrolled in school. In relation to the comparative assessment of improvement in vulnerability status of HIV/AIDS affected and non-affected families, the study found out that the gap in vulnerability was attributed to differences in the composition of children in the characteristics namely, region, parenthood status, number of dependents and involvement in family strengthening activities (p < 0.05). The study concludes that household and individual characteristics play a key role in transition from critical or moderate vulnerability. It is further deduced that school enrollment and absenteeism in vulnerable households is affected by the vulnerability status of the household and that the gap in vulnerability is attributed to differences in the characteristics of children in the HIV-affected and non-affected households. The study recommends that interventions should recognize the unique characteristics, needs, and diversity among different vulnerable populations.
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