Mr James Opio, a resident of Okwang Trading Centre, Otuke District, is a father of 19 with four wives. The 33-year-old fends for his family through farming and repairing bicycles.
However, his earnings are not enough to provide food for his family, pay school fees and medicals bills.
“In August last year, my wives fought among themselves when they could not agree on how to distribute Shs119,000 that was needed to do shopping for the children. It was very annoying for me because I ceased to be respected in my family and my entire neighbourhood,” he says.
Tired of this financial pressure, in April, Mr Opio was among the more than 60 men in the sub-county who underwent vasectomy when Reproductive Health Uganda and Reach a Hand Uganda, both NGOs, sensitised on the need to embrace birth control.
Although many men were reluctant due to myths surrounding the procedure, many have since embraced it.
Mr Simon Okello, a 24-year-old resident of Otumpili Village, says despite the stigma that comes with the procedure, he undertook it because he was finding it difficult to fend for his three wives and the children.
“Even though some people refer to us as eunuchs, I don’t regret because I want to concentrate on building my family with the little I earn,” Mr Okello says.
The NGOs are running a campaign in the district coded ‘Men Plus’ where men undergo vasectomy.
“We are happy as leaders that the eyes of our people are beginning to open because we always told them that it does not make sense to produce many children or marry many wives when you cannot provide for them as a man,” Mr Daniel Ojok Aruca, the sub-county chairperson, says. Mr Sylvester Ocen, the district community development officer, says besides vasectomy, there is an ongoing community sensitisation on the dangers of polygamy and alcoholism in the area.
Mr Amon Mulyowa, a social and behavioural change adviser at Reach a Hand Uganda, says many residents do not understand the value of family planning.
“A family that is well planned is less likely to experience cases of domestic violence than families where there are many more children,” Mr Mulyowa says.
“Violence that happens between men and women in families stems from stress and pressures related to poverty, alcoholism, polygamy, which vasectomy can solve,” he adds.
Mr Mulyowa says they are targeting to perform vasectomy on 600 men by December.
Men Plus was launched on February 22 by the Health ministry and is also being run in Kampala, Hoima, Mbarara, Mbale, Mityana, Arua, Otuke and Iganga districts. Records from the Reproductive Health Uganda indicates that by the end of August, 454 men across the eight districts had undergone the procedure.