IRCU delivers services through religious leaders, structures and infrastructure which cascade down from national to the grassroots levels. Among the institutions are health facilities, universities, schools, Vocational/post-secondary institutions and regional and district governance structures (dioceses, deaneries, fields and Muslim districts, counties and villages). IRCU’s main focus is on promotion of peace and conflict transformation, sustainable human development and network development among the Religious Leaders, communities, women and youths.
IRCU has been delivering HIV/AIDS, peace, human rights and good governance programs in the country for over a decade. During this period, IRCU has been able to deliver services to a multitude of Ugandans across many communities.
It has also been able to undertake civic engagement program where consciousness of the citizenry in respect to their democratic and constitutional rights and their obligations in the electoral and governance processes and also demand for accountability from leaders.
IRCU has been doing good work as the national level. In order to strengthen FBOs to undertake advocacy, resource mobilization and coordination at the regional and district level, the IRCU Board established the following Regional Inter-faith Networks
IRCU programs focus on strengthening coordination of the multi-religious responses to the common challenges including HIV/AIDS, peace, human rights, conflict transformation and good governance.
The Program to Roll out Key Family Care Practices in Northern Uganda and Karamoja Sub-region is an initiative between the Inter-religious Council of Uganda, Ministry of Health and UNICEF Uganda. The program covers high burden districts which includes all the eight (8) districts of Karamoja i.e, Abim, Napak, Kaabong, Amudat, Nakapiripit, Moroto, Kotido; in Northern Uganda, for lango sub region it covers the districts of Kole, Agago, Otuke and Oyam while in Acholi sub region Kitgum, Lamwo, Gulu and Amuru.
The program was conceived out of the need to reduce maternal and child mortality that is endemic in both regions of Uganda. It was precipitated by the resolutions of a conference on Maternal, Reproductive and Child Health (MRNAH) that took place in Kampala in July 2015 where religious leaders across the country resolved to take a more active role in the promotion of child and maternal health in the country.
It should also be noted that this year (2017) was declared as the year of the family by the government of Uganda. It is therefore pertinent that religious leaders begin discussing issues to improve family and community life and health in particular. The Key Family Care Practices package rolled out by religious leaders also comes at the heels of the launch of the Integrated Early Childhood Policy (IECD) that was recently launched by the government of Uganda.
Why Religious Leaders?
Uganda is a highly religious country, with 98% (Census 2014, UBOS) of the population belonging to one religion or the other and therefore religion plays a central role in people’s lives. In addition religion permeates the most hard to reach areas with religious leaders and institutions who provide social services in education, looking after orphans, health services etc. Furthermore, religious leaders still enjoy a prophetic voice and are blessed and guaranteed with readily available platforms where they reach out to multitudes of people on a daily basis. For example the Muslim faith flock to mosques every day culminating into Juma prayers on Fridays, the SDA faith on Saturdays and other Christians on Sundays. This is a great potential that IRCU would like to tap into so that religious leaders use these platforms to talk to their congregations about Key family care Practices. A total of 872 religious leaders are expected to actively participate in this program.
What are Key Family Care Practices?
Family Care Practices are simple practices which when practiced have been scientifically proven to significantly reduce morbidity and mortality. They are twenty two (22) in number and include, promoting immunization, hand washing, taking family members to hospital when sick, keeping children in school, using of pit latrines for defecation, attending antenatal care, educating children etc.
How is the program designed?
This program will build the capacity of 872 religious leaders who are expected to integrated messages on Key Family Care Practices into their normal (pastoral) work such as prayers and when carrying out other religious events. The messages will target youths, men and women at churches and mosques, households and in communities. Religious leaders are expected to create time to promote at least one Key Family Care Practices for example after prayers, during sermons. Upon hearing these messages, it expected that communities will change their behavior, uptake Key family care Practices and finally improve their health.
The program is expected to continuously be run by religious leaders in communities that it has been launched. A committee called the district interfaith committee will be set up to link with the district office so that the local governments are abreast with what happens in communities and also provide an opportunity for religious leaders to get support from the district especially the District Health Office.
The BLEG program focuses on household income security, food security and environmental stewardship. It mainly works with women under the Uganda Women of Faith network (UWOFNET) and youth under the Uganda Youth Inter-faith Network (UYIN) in its undertakings.
Women being the mothers of the nation and largely carrying the responsibility to ensure the well-being of their families, and the youth being the leaders of today and tomorrow, it is imperative that they are equipped with skills, knowledge and information to undertake profitable and meaningful livelihood engagement.
BLEG thematically focuses on promoting the following within its target group:
In August 2012, the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) launched the Inter-Religious Institute for Peace (IRIP). The launch followed years of consultations with different stakeholders on the relevance of an inter-faith institute for peace in Uganda. Earlier, the Peace, Justice and Governance (PJG) Committee had created a special Sub-committee to support the operationalization of this proposal and see the growth of the institute
The unit of Research, Documentation and Strategic Information (RDSI) is cross-cutting to all IRCU programme areas. The major aim of the unit is to ensure data collection in all IRCU interventions with a view to promoting evidence-based programming and service delivery. Research findings are shared (disseminated to) with other stakeholders for accountability purposes and promotion of networking and building partnerships. The RSDI collaborates with universities to implement action-based research and develop options to influence public policy.Too, this research is intended to direct programming at IRCU.
The IRCU Resource Centre that is a well-stocked repository of relevant knowledge and information based on the nature of program activities that the organization specializes in. This information appears in form of internal and external research reports, annual reports, books, pamphlets and newsletters.
The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda in partnership with the Irish Embassy and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and social Development is implementing an inter-faith GBV prevention and mitigation program in the Busoga sub-region. The program covers the districts of Bugiri, Jinja, Iganga, Kaliro, Mayuge, Namutumba, and Namayingo. It focuses on building the capacity of the religious leaders and institutions to respond to and prevent GBV as well as mitigate its effects. IRCU recognizes that GBV increases the risk to HIV/AIDS and poverty and so must be stopped.
The program aims at consolidating and strengthening the multi-religious response to peacebuilding and national reconciliation in Uganda. It also aims at enhancing the work of IRCU member organizations and to link practice with policy on peacebuilding, conflict transformation, and good governance for transformation of society, establishing a framework for mediation by religious leaders in the resolution of different types of conflicts at different levels, scaling up civic engagement to meet the knowledge expectations of the people and enhance their active participation in the governance decision-making processes.
The program is implemented through three interventions namely: Peace and Reconciliation, Good Governance, Justice and Human Rights.
IRCU supports comprehensive faith and community-based HIV/AIDS program through sub-grants and capacity-building to religious structures and organizations. This program covers HIV prevention, Care and Treatment and mitigation services for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Uganda.
At national level, such networks include the Institutionalized Faith based Organizations and their affiliated structures, the regional interfaith networks and District level interfaith committees. These networks and structures provide a mechanism for enhanced faith based involvement in addressing developmental issues through coordinated approaches, coherence of effort, maximization of synergy and sharing of resources
At Regional and International level, IRCU is affiliated to Religions for Peace International headquartered in New York and the African Council of Religious Leaders in Nairobi. IRCU is also the secretariat for the Great Lakes Inter-religious Network GLIRN) and the East African Community – Inter Religious Council (EAC-IRC).
Participation in these initiatives is mainly focused on promoting peace and good governance as well as issues of sustainable human development that affect humanity. Similarly, IRCU works on issues of women and youths through their networks of Uganda Women of Faith Network, and Uganda Interfaith Youth Network. These networks are affiliated to African Religious Youth Network (ARYN) at regional level, the Global Youth Network (GYN) and Religions for Peace international.
Partnerships that have facilitated service delivery include: Uganda AIDS Commission where IRCU serves as a Self-Coordinating Entity whose role is to coordinate all FBOs in Uganda in the context of responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Similarly, IRCU representation spans areas such as National Prevention Committee, the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the Health Policy Advisory Committee (HIPAC), the Civil Society Inter Constituency Committee (CICC) and at the Civil Society Fund Steering Committee; and the National Gender Based Violence Reference Committee in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
IRCU is also a member of the Uganda National AIDS Service Organizations (UNASO). The Institution also works closely with line ministries such as the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development. IRCU is engaged in partnership with Management Sciences for Health (MSH) under STAR-E project, ICCO and IRISH AID. IRCU will continue to develop sound collaboration with likeminded organizations. These will include development partners, international FBOs, NGOs and government.
Putting the youth at the center of our work