Paul Lwanga’s idea to set up SPAU was borne out of seeing the poverty in rural Uganda and the special needs of single parent families struggling to provide enough for their households. Paul saw much of the overseas aid going towards awareness projects and medicines for people suffering from AIDS, but very little going to their family dependents who had to keep their own lives going in spite of economic hardship. Paul shared this idea with his two colleagues, Anne Lubega and Alex Ssenyama, who were also single parents at the time facing the growing pressures and needs of raising children on their own. The trio eventually set up SPAU in December 1999. SPAU was set up to primarily provide a safety net for the poorest of the poor single parent families to develop a sufficient income to meet their basic needs.
SPAU assessments since 2004 have identified communities in Uganda where almost half of all families are headed by single parents, usually women. Of this number, at least 50% are widows whose husbands have died of AIDS-related illnesses. Statistics from the 2008 Uganda ‘Poverty Eradication Action Plan’ also showed that households headed by widows, or women married to absent husbands, were consistently poorer than others and that single parent families were among the most disadvantaged in Uganda.
Since its inception in December 1999, SPAU has brought hundreds of single parents into community-based support groups to offer each other mutual support. It is also through these groups that SPAU has developed various micro-business programmes for single parents, which provide empowerment to enable single parents meet their own basic needs and those of their households. SPAU implements HIV/AIDS support programmes alongside income generating projects. SPAU has also initiated and encouraged community-led responses to provide care and support for orphans and vulnerable children within local communities.
To find out more about SPAU check out their website here