KRC Uganda is implementing the Youth Savings and Loans Association (YSLA) approach in Kyaka II Refugee Settlement in Kyegegwa District under the APEAL III Consortium. Adolescent girls enrolled for this program are former graduates of CARE International’s International and Rescue Committee (IRC) Girl Shine Project that built their capacity in self-awareness and life skills to fight Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
YSLA is a package of Village savings and Loans Association (VSLA) with specific target on the youth of ages between 14 and 20 years of age. It is a village banking methodology for the young adolescent girls in refugee settings to instil in them financial discipline while they are young and be able to address their social protection concerns using the financial approach.
The YSLA members were selected and recommended by APEAL III partner organisations including CARE International in Kyangwali and International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Kyaka II Refugee Settlements. KRC Uganda’s VSLA program reaches out to 8 groups in both refugee settlements.
A risk assessment of the project conducted by KRC Uganda found that it was risky for the young girls to involve in savings since they did not have assured income streams.
Prior to the risk assessment, it had been perceived that the parents would directly give money to the girls to save. Most importantly, it became improbable that vulnerable parents of the girls would be able to give their daughters money to save. It was found that families in the refugee settlement were faced with reduced food rations and the burden to provide other basic needs. It was also found that majority of the parents themselves belong to VSLA groups where they also save some money, hence the parents couldn’t raise money to save to both schemes.
The risk assessment contended that emphasis on savings would expose the young girls to negative coping mechanisms including exchange of money for sex, exposing them to risks of early marriages and teenage pregnancies. KRC Uganda is obligated to mitigate any attempt of such negative coping mechanisms.
As a way of encouraging savings without negative coping mechanisms, KRC initiated a skills training for the adolescents so that they can be able to have saleable products and generate incomes, from where to meet their needs and save in the YSLAs.
480 girls from Kyaka II and Kyangwali were trained in skills to make Poncho sweaters, craft shoes and poncho shoes. Training was done in two phases, the first one in February 2021 and another in September 2021. From February to September 2021, the girls have been doing their individual practicing due to restrictions in movements due to Covid-19 lock down.
Nonetheless, in the same period, some of the girls were able to make some products and sells them to get an income. In Kaborogota One in Kyaka II, Amina Kasoke an 18-year-old girl, who benefited from the training in February sold her first poncho sweater at Ugx. 25,000. Amina bought more materials for her continued practice and saved the rest in her YSLA.
Parents too are committed to helping their children to get the skills because they know the skill will benefit the whole family. Racheal Ndolomo in Bukere and Tayali Silver in Mukondo in Kyaka II joined their daughters in skills training. When asked why they attended, Mr. Tayali said he wanted to make sure his daughter concentrates on the training. Racheal Ndolomo says she wanted to get the skill to be able to guide her daughter and other children when the instructors are not there to make sure they perfect the skills. In Bukere, another parent who is a pastor convinced his church members to offer the church premises to the girls to do their practices. Other parents were seen bringing their children to be enrolled while others came to pick their children after trainings. This parent-leaner support is a key ingredient for better learning outcomes.