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 thed evelopment 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 studies also showed improved psychosocial (depression, self-efficacy, hopelessness and future orientation), intention to engage in sexual risk-taking, and educational attainment and achievement outcomes for youth who participated in asset-based interventions, compared to participants in our control groups. Details on specific participant outcomes, methodology and analysis for each study can be found in our publications section.
Over the years ICHAD has developed strong community partnerships in Uganda. In our studies we have worked with over 50 local schools, 40 clinics, and multiple community based organizations and financial institutions in the area. Our research has been supported by the Masaka Diocese in charge of schools in southern Uganda, and the Diocese continues to partner on our studies today. These collaborations have fostered local trust and buy in from youth, families and community members, and highlights 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 federal government officials and agencies, including the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health, in an effort to inform country and region-wide evidence-based policies for at-risk youth in Uganda and Sub-Saharan Africa. Read more about our community and research partners here.
The concept of youth individual development accounts (IDAs) 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, which have offered funding and support to implement IDAs in other developing countries for vulnerable youth. In recent years ICHAD has extended its reach and support of economic strengthening research for vulnerable youth in several exciting collaborations including: the YouthSave project in Columbia, Kenya, Ghana and Nepal (final synthesis report here); a research study examining the efficacy of a microfinance intervention with sex-workers in Mongolia; a state-sponsored asset-based program in Nigeria; determining the potential for an economic intervention model for adolescents in inner city communities of New York; and investigating the potential for family based financial programs as opposed to institutionalized care in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
Current research at ICHAD is building on the valuable lessons we have learned over the past 15 years by determining the cost effectiveness of an asset-based intervention for children orphaned by AIDS (Bridges to the Future) and HIV positive children (SUUBI Adherence) and determining long term impacts of the intervention on financial, psychosocial, developmental and health outcomes for youth. You can read more about our current projects here.