Diakonia - People change the world

Regional programme: Lake Victoria Rights

Diakonia has been working in the Lake Victoria region since 2006. The Lake Victoria Rights Programme (LVRP) has contributed to improvements in the livelihoods and human rights awareness of the fishing communities living around the Lake Victoria Basin. The programme is located in the East African countries Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

8/18/2014 Publisher: Caroline Kogi

A successful programme

Diakonia's Lake Victoria Rights Programme (LVRP) has succeeded in changing attitudes towards people living with HIV and AIDS from stigmatization to participation, empowered religious leaders to successfully address taboos and misconceptions about the epidemic, decreased cases of domestic violence and child abuse, and allowed many women to gain economic and social independence through alternative income generating activities, as well as savings and loans.

Through participation in the programme, members of the fishing communities have begun to view themselves as rights holders, claiming and demanding their human rights from authorities at the traditional level and  government level. This has resulted in a more systematic advocacy focus on sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR), and access to justice at county, national and regional levels.

An integrated approach addresses many human rights issues

Other human rights issues that the Lake Victoria region faces include widespread gender inequality, low levels of democratic participation, limited access to justice and a lack of access to decision-making processes. These are factors that the Lake Victoria programme aims to address through an integrated approach comprised of reproductive health promotion, access to justice, and sustainable economic empowerment.

Unique approaches towards Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

LVRP places a special focus on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for communities and marginalized groups living around Lake Victoria. The programme incorporates a paralegal approach, male involvement and a faith based approach to promote and protect the SRHR of all community members.

Faith Based Approach

LVRP continuously engages Faith Based Organizations in working on SRHR issues. This is based on the realization that they are unique, insightful and valuable partners due to their community mandate, legitimacy and extensive outreach. Faith Based Organizations mobilize, influence people’s behaviour and attitude, and have elaborate structures at all levels critical for advocacy engagement.  Of the six Diakonia partners at the Lake Victoria region, five are Faith Based Organizations.

Male involvement

In order to increase the impact of the SRHR work, including a continued focus on HIV and AIDS, an important component in the programme is the active engagement of men and traditional leaders, who are often overlooked when it comes to SRHR. Male involvement is important for promoting access to SRH for both men and women. This means not only men supporting their partners to access SRH but also promoting access to SRH for men by addressing male reproductive health.  

The paralegal approach

The training of paralegals is conducted in matters of civil and criminal law, and regional human rights principles. This is a key strategic approach in enhancing access to justice in the Lake Victoria Basin, especially in the beach fronts and islands where services like lawyers, courts, police and prison stations are far away. The paralegals provide legal aid and awareness to enhance attitude changes, access to critical legal services and access to administrative justice. Paralegals play a critical role in mobilisation and being change agents through sensitization, investigation, dispute resolution, whistle blowing and advocacy from a rights-based approach.

Capacity building

Diakonia conducts and supports trainings under the SRHR, economic empowerment and access to justice themes. This capacity building of  partner organizations and rights holders has led to increased community awareness and policy responses by both rights holders and duty bearers on matters of health, governance, economy and justice. Diakonia also conducts leadership and governance trainings to partner organizations as well as capacity assessments in order to strengthen the institutions.

Read more about the Lake Victoria Rights programme

  • Gladys in Kenya transformed her life

    Gladys overcame the obstacles of widowhood and archaic traditional practices to become economically empowered to create sustainable livelihood for herself and her children. Read more about Gladys
  • Kenya: Opening up political space for women

    Before 2007, Beatrice Kanoti never imagined that she would be a well known public and even political figure in Sio Port, Western Kenya. Today things are different and she dreams of a political seat in order to...
  • Tanzania: Happiness is changing the world

    Happiness Inja in Ukerewe, Tanzania proves that when you empower a woman, you empower the entire community. She shares her inspiring story of the first woman to vie and win the counselor seat.
  • Kenya: Life goes on - despite HIV

    John Oluoch's has HIV and his closest family considered him as already dead. But today his life has returned almost to normal, thanks to the committed effort of Wycliffe Kidera who is active as a paralegal in the Diakonia programme Lake Victoria Rights. Read more about John
  • Tanzania: Rosemary refused widow cleansing

    When Rosemary's husband died, the traditions said that she had to go through women cleansing, unprotected sex with men, to keep her land. Thanks to a workshop she had attended with Diakonia's partner organization, she refused, and eventually gained her land back. Read Rosemary's story
  • Uganda: Kasekulo - a transformed village

    The village of Kasekulo in Uganda and its people have over the past years transformed their village into a clean and safe place. Today the people in Kasekulo are aware of their rights and have high hopes for the future, thanks to Diakonia's Lake Victoria Programme. Read about the changed Kasekulo