Reducing Sexual Assault in Uganda

In partnership with the Uganda-based Rape Hurts Foundation (RHF), SELF has implemented—and is expanding—a solar solution that is reducing the high number of sexual assaults against women and girls in the region.

Due to the high instances of these crimes in the project community of Bukyerimba, Uganda, RHF has established a center there with programs to help prevent sexual violence and offer support to survivors and their children. RHF’s founder, Hellen Tanyinga, assists the victims of past assaults and empowers them to move on from victims to survivors through compassion, education, and skills development. She also provides a safe haven for the area’s homeless children—many of them conceived through rape. An ongoing impediment for the program has been the historical lack of electricity in the region.  SELF is working with RHF to address the problem in a number of ways, with reported sexual assaults already down by 30%.

In Bukyerimba, it’s commons for women and girls to venture outside of town—often at night—to collect water for their families. This is when many of the assaults occur. With the installation of solar streetlights and a solar-pump water station in the center of the village, the need to venture far from home for water has been virtually eliminated, and any trip outside has the added security of public lighting. SELF has also funded three solar-powered refrigerators, which help with the storage of cold food and drinks. However, there is still a problem. Women and girls are also responsible for collecting wood for cooking—making them, once again, vulnerable to predators.  In the project’s next phase, a pilot program to promote solar cookers will be offered so that wood will no longer be needed. The cookers will be commercial-scale, so that local women can not only feed their families, but also prepare food for sale, thereby earning an income.

As this work continues, it is our hope that these efforts can eventually be replicated throughout Sub-Saharan Africa to support victims of sexual violence, prevent further assaults, and improve gender equality.


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