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A rights approach to slum health

Funding: GCRF Catalyst Fund - Integrating Legal Empowerment and Social Accountability for Sexual Reproductive health and HIV Services for Young People in Selected Slum Areas in Uganda.

The project is a catalyst fund from the Global Challenges Research Fund. The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government in late 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. The pilot project will be run in conjunction with a leading civil society organisation in Uganda, Centre for Health and Human Rights, and aims to identify and act on underlying factors that hinder the realisation of sexual reproductive health and rights of young women in slums.

Rapid urbanization in Uganda drives economic development, but inadequate planning has also led to slum growth. Young women, in particular, face increased risks of HIV/AIDS infections, sexual assault, unsafe abortions and lack of access to basic services in slums. This project focuses on enabling young women in slums to achieve sexual and reproductive services rights through exploring how human rights can give them agency to proactively seek health services and redress when their rights are violated.

This project is piloting a collaborative project between the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) a Ugandan civil society group, and Sharifah Sekalala PI (Law) and Oyinlola Oyebode (WMS) to identify and act on underlying factors that impact on the realization of sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young women in Wakiso, the second largest district. Focusing on slums, an area in which WMS has expertise, the objectives are: 1) To identify the stakeholders relevant for realization of SRHR for young women in two slums; 2) To establish the knowledge and practice gaps in the realization of SRHR for young women in the selected slum areas; and 3) to develop a methodology and normative framework for measuring this intervention grounded in human rights norms. The findings from this baseline will inform the design of a scaled up interventional research project. The project builds on discussions we had with Moses Mulumba (CEHURD) who visited Warwick Law School as a funded IAS fellow to develop collaborations with Warwick academics in in 2017. Slum health was identified as one of the biggest threats to attaining SDG 3 on health.

Interventional research projects build research capacity in ODA specific contexts supporting calls from the Lancet on localized research on slum health. Through this project, academics from Warwick and Uganda, activists and policy makers will come together to create a methodology for improving slum health based on Legal Empowerment and Social Accountability. (LESA) Over the course of 4 months, the project will include interviews with 10 members of the community and 5 focus will involve young women from slums and other governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to analyze the advantages and limitations of this approach. Such interventions are critical to enabling slum dwellers understand their rights on sexual and reproductive health which will enable Uganda in its quest to achieve SDG 3 on health, (including SDG 3.7 on sexual and reproductive health care services,) SDG 3.8 on barriers to achieving Universal Health Coverage , SDG 5.2 on sexual violence and SDG 11 on basic services in slum areas.