Early research on asset-based interventions for the poor was primarily focused in western countries, and little knowledge existed for its application in the developing world. ICHAD Director, Fred Ssewamala, was one of the first to pursue the development of these programs for vulnerable AIDS-affected youth in sub-Saharan Africa, specifically in southern Uganda. These early trials (SEED, Suubi (Hope) Uganda and SUUBI MAKA (Hope for Families) proved local acceptability, feasibility and positive short-term outcomes of economic empowerment for youth and families in this context. Specifically they illustrated that both families and youth in low-resource communities take advantage of asset-based opportunities when they are made available, and do in fact save. In addition, our studies have shown positive results for participants who have participated in asset-based interventions when compared to control group participants. Results include improved psychosocial outcomes (depression, self-efficacy, hopelessness, and future orientation), improved educational attainment and achievement, as well as decreased intention to engage in sexual risk taking. Details on specific participant outcomes, methodology and analysis for each study can be found in our publications section.
ICHAD has developed strong community partnerships in Uganda. Our studies we have worked with over 50 local schools, 40 clinics, and multiple community based organizations and financial institutions. Our research is supported by the Masaka Diocese in charge of schools in southern Uganda. Additionally, we have worked closely with our implementation partner Reach the Youth Uganda as well as the Rakai Health Sciences Program on several of our studies. These collaborations have fostered local trust and buy-in from youth, families, community members, as well as local and national leaders. Our collaborations highlight ICHAD’s strategic focus of capitalizing on the strength of existing community infrastructure for its research. ICHAD has also developed key partnerships with local and national government officials and agencies, including the Ministry of Education and Sports, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development. Our studies aim to inform national and local evidence-based policies for at-risk and vulnerable youth in Uganda and beyond. Read more about our community and research partners here.
The concept of child development accounts (CDAs) tested in Dr. Ssewamala’s early (and current) studies and their positive results have been recognized by institutions such as the World Bank, Save the Children and MasterCard Foundation. These insituations have offered funding and support to implement CDAs in several developing countries for vulnerable children and youth. In recent years, ICHAD has extended its support of economic strengthening research for vulnerable children and youth in numerous exciting collaborations including: the YouthSave project in Columbia, Kenya, Ghana and Nepal; a research study examining the efficacy of a microfinance intervention with sex-workers in Mongolia; a state-sponsored asset-based program in Nigeria; a study determining the potential for an economic intervention model for adolescents in inner city communities of New York; and a study investigating the potential for family based financial programs as opposed to institutionalized care in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
ICHAD continues to strive towards expanding the impact of our research. Our current research projects build upon the valuable lessons we have learned over the past 15 years. Current studies include: the Bridges to the Future study evaluating the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of an innovative family-based economic empowerment intervention for AIDS-orphaned children in Uganda; the Suubi+Adherence study examining the impact and cost associated with an innovative intervention to increase HIV treatment adherence for HIV-infected adolescents in Uganda.; and the Suubi4Her study examining the impact and cost of an innovative combination intervention aiming to prevent HIV risk behaviors among 15-17 year-old girls living in communities heavily affected by poverty and HIV/AIDS in Uganda.
You can read more about our current projects here.