Study Site

The SMART Africa scale-up study is being conducted in Southwest Uganda in the Greater Masaka region. This area, which is where the first HIV case was found in 1982, consists of eight districts—Masaka, Rakai, Kalungu, Lwengo, Bukomansimbi, Ssembabule, Kalangala, and Lyantonde. Children in the region have since suffered devastating consequences of the HIV epidemic due to high rates of parental loss. The mortality of economically active adults has left many youth orphaned, which has subsequently weakened extended family systems that previously provided care and safety nets for children in the region. The epidemic is in part responsible for poverty, psychological distress, and other physical and mental health challenges in these communities. These factors have greatly increased the likelihood that children will experience behavioral difficulties among other challenges. Thus, developing early child and adolescent mental health interventions is critical.

The study is hosted by International Center for Child Health and Asset Development (ICHAD) with offices in the Masaka Municipality.


Through partnerships with ICHAD, Reach The Youth – Uganda (RTY), and the Catholic Diocese of Masaka, the SMART Africa-Uganda study will be implemented in 30 government-funded schools. The aim is to recruit 3,000 families including both children and their guardians. The participants will receive an adapted version of the evidence-based Multiple Family Group Intervention (known as 4Rs and 2Ss). This intervention has been implemented in the U.S. among families with children from resource-limited settings experiencing behavioral health challenges, including Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder. The 4Rs and 2Ss model has been revised and adapted to the Ugandan context in collaboration with community stakeholders and has been renamed “Amaka Amasanyufu” (“Happy Families”). Our Amaka Amasanyufu manual also incorporates drawings from local children. These drawings can be found here

This intervention manual includes 16 sessions that cover topics including but not limited to: building on family strengths, respectful communication, behavioral health knowledge and stigma, dealing with stress at home, and problem-solving strategies to address broken rules.

Study Partners

  • International Center for Child Health and Asset Development (ICHAD) has worked in the region for more than 10 years to economically empower children and families.
  • Rakai Health Science Program (RHSP) has worked in the region for more than 25 years to conduct groundbreaking medical and reproductive health research in the field of HIV prevention, care, and treatment.
  • Reach the Youth Uganda (RTY) has provided services in the region for poverty-impacted youth and families. Through a partnership with ICHAD, RTY has offered employment training for impoverished families.
  • The Catholic Diocese of Masaka is instrumental in providing care and support to orphaned children in the region. The Catholic Church is an important community institution and a critical actor in the provision of education to youth in the area.

Research Team

Meet the SMART Africa Uganda Research Team

Contact Information

For more information, please contact our Uganda Study coordinator Phionah Namatovu at

The office is located at plot 23 Circular Road, Masaka, Uganda
P.O Box 1988, Masaka.