Background: Adolescent Girls living in rural areas face unprecedented levels of gender based violence; the case is worse for those involved in high risky transaction sex as many at same time present high levels of drug use and alcohol consumption. Most studies document largely urban enclaves and too scanty to understand the far reaching consequences on the girls physical health, psychological and economic conditions. Many rural services miss out reaching the girls with multiple psycho- social needs while others are not accessible due to distance.
Survey: A cross-section survey using multi mixed method of data collection working with young researchers was conducted among girls seeking services at UYDEL 10 Safe spaces using face to face interviews and focus group discussions to screen for traumatic events and support, Gender based violence (GBV), alcohol and drugs. The results showed girls presenting unprecedented levels of (GBV) including rape (30%), stress and depression arising out of abuse, and multiple social and economic exploitation. There were also high levels of alcohol (90%) and drug use and limited survival opportunities.
Interventions: UYDEL is implementing a three year DREAMS project since 2016 supported by CDC/MILDMAY aiming at empowering 2,000 young girls to prevent high risk sexual activities and transactional sex, alcohol drugs, depressions, economic and social empowerment activities to positively recover and function normally in rural Uganda.The UYDEL managers at the youth safe spaces have undertaken staff capacity training for over 60 social workers about prevention science and adaptation to the low resource rural setting. Additionally, individual and group based activities, sports and experience-sharing, counseling by social workers as the most helpful in their mental recovery. Economic empowerment also reinforced recovery and successful adjustment. Safe spaces promote screening tools relating to drugs, trauma as basis for intervention and referral.
Lessons learnt:Girls involved in transactional sex in rural areas can face a myriad of problems affecting their social functioning, thus a need to intervention at various levels. Building staff capacity in prevention science, adaptation of interventions towards comorbidity issues is key. Working with UCLA staff has been helpful to improve skills in staff delivery and transformative of the (AGYW).
Key words: recovery, positive functioning