ATHENS, Ga. – University of Georgia’s Master of Social Work Director Dr. David Okech was awarded a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons for his work with the African Programming and Research Initiative to End Slavery (APRIES). The allocation is a part of a larger grant of $25 million to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery.
APRIES is an international anti-slavery organization consisting of researchers from the University of Georgia and the University of Liverpool. The overall goal of the organization is to reduce the prevalence of trafficking in Sub-Saharan Africa by developing the capacity of local agencies in the region to prevent slavery, prosecute offenders and protect victims. APRIES will work with local implementing partners to achieve its goals.
"Through this grant, the research team aims to drastically improve the anti-trafficking programs and policies in Sub-Saharan Africa, resulting in a substantial and measurable reduction in child trafficking,” said Okech, co-founder and primary investigator of the grant. “With a collaboration through ReselienceAfrica Network at Makerere University in Uganda, we will also develop robust method of data gathering that will be useful for other researchers in the area across Africa and the globe.”
The federal grant awarded to this project was a result of previous work partly funded by seed grants from the University of Georgia Office of Global Engagement. In the first phase of their project, Okech and his colleagues from the UGA College of Public Health, UGA Franklin College and the University of Ghana produced research on the psychological, social and economic consequences of human trafficking. The UGA Global Collaboration Grant and the UGA Interdisciplinary Seed Grant assisted the team in furthering their work into the next phase, which included interviewing survivors and identifying service gaps in existing anti-trafficking programs.
APRIES aims to enhance the quality and scope of local implementing partners’ anti-slavery operations resulting in 5-10% reduction in baseline reporting in target communities and 25% increase in number of victims served from baseline by April 2023.
Background: Sub-Saharan Africa is immensely affected by modern slavery in various forms including child soldiers, forced marriages, domestic servitude, street porters, debt bondage and human trafficking. The 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates that there are 6,245,800 people in modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa, or 13.6% of the global total.