Improving Livelihood standards of women in Nangurwe village

Tyler, Rebecca, Leanna, and Sikander; four students from Northwestern University’s GESI program; came together to begin a group project at Sustain Micro Enterprise (SME). SME is a local NGO that provides vulnerable women access to small business loans to start their own businesses to help generate income. SME also hosts business and financial management trainings for those that are receiving loans.

Within the project, the GESI group chose to work with one particular community of women called the Kamu Kamu group, located in the Nangurwe village on the outskirts of Bukaya, Uganda. Through an extensive interview process, the GESI students were able to identify some of the key strengths and challenges in the community to generate a project proposal. Getting to directly meet with the women individually and as group allowed the women to voice their key concerns and ideas. The problems mentioned by the interviewees were mainly related to challenges of income generation. Many interviewees touched upon the water crisis, prevalence of severe malaria, incidents of typhoid, unstable monetary flows and difficulty paying school fees. During the interview, the team also identified the strengths of the community which includes, but is not limited to, hair making, crafting, and sewing.

The goals of the project covered a variety of topics that would improve the overall well-being of the women: to build a greater sense of community; generate additional capital; improve general hygiene practices; mitigate malaria; and enhance the women’s sense of self. After the community assessment, the GESI team decided to set up a women’s community center using their seed fund to capitalize on the strengths of the community in order to generate income and to conduct a detailed health talk to disseminate information that could upgrade the general health standards of the community members. Topics identified for the health talk were malaria, typhoid, hand wash and sanitation. After conducting the health talk, the GESI group worked to help the women improve general health by designating a location for rubbish, creating tippy taps, and clearing bushes. By creating this women’s center, the GESI students created a new source of income for the KamuKamu group based on not only their skills, but also things they enjoyed doing. In this center, women are also able to go and learn new skills. By bettering the hygienic practices of the women, the GESI group hopes to decrease the time and money the women spend when they are sick and more time in their businesses.


The outcome of this project is that the KamuKamu group learned about important hygiene practices including the use of soap when washing hands. The community has also learned about the importance of working together. Lastly, the KamuKamu women’s center proved to be huge success and it will serve as a pilot program for a larger women’s center that SME plans to open in 2020.

Future participants and donors can help to support the project by creating women’s centers in other communities of women like the KamuKamu group as well as helping to expand this already existing center to offer other skills for the women to generate income.

Research on the Effects of and Reasons for Tungiasis in the Busoga Region

I hope that this internship will uncover more about the world and help me decide with more confidence whether to pursue community development and field research.” – Andrew De Haan

Andrew De Haan was a Community-Based Participatory Research intern from September – December 2018. He came to FSD as a graduate in Biomedical Engineering looking to expand his knowledge of conducting field research and to better understand his own career. Andrew worked with Kakira Outgrowers Rural Development Fund (KORD) located in Kakira, Uganda. Kakira is a town dominated by a larger sugar cane factory, Kakira Sugar Limited, where most of the residents work in the factory or on the plantation. KORD’s mission is to improve the quality of life for the community of residents and outgrowers (about 9000 registered famers) in the surrounding districts.

During the community assessment, both the Kakira Town Council and the local community members identified that they struggled with infections of Tunga Penetrans (locally known as Jiggers). Though many government and non-government organizations had identified Jiggers as an issue, the community was unsure that the current programs were substantially reducing infection. KORD was looking to address the current epidemic of Jiggers in the Busoga region; however, they were wary of attempting an intervention without first understanding the socio-cultural and economic factors surrounding the parasite. At KORD, Andrew and his supervisor conducted a cross-sectional study in the villages of Kagogwa and Kabembe, where significant government and non-government organizational efforts were present. KORD wanted to understand the impact of NGOs on these communities by measuring the prevalence of Jiggers and to see if the current treatment and prevention methods were effective at reducing infection. Surveys were administered to 299 participants by 3 research assistants proficient in all local languages. The scope of the research covered qualitative responses regarding the causes of tungiasis, perceptions on the types of people who contract tungiasis, and treatments used were obtained using questionnaires and interviews. Quantitative data was collected on the number of lesions on members of each household, the construction of the house, whether school or workdays have been missed, footwear usage, the number and types of animal co-habitants, and behavioral factors were assessed using questionnaires.

The results of the study indicated that the prevalence of current infection in the villages of Kagogwa and Kabembe was 17%. Tungiasis was more prevalent in children under 14 (34%) than adults. Risk factors included tending for chickens, cohabiting with chickens, and increased numbers of residents per sleeping room. The results found that despite removal clinics, spraying of homes, and construction of new homes for some residents, the problem of tungiasis persisted.

 

The findings were documented in a report entitled Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Impact of Tungiasis in Kabembe and Kagogwa, Uganda. Andrew and the team at KORD were able to deliver the report to the Kakira Town Council through the Department of Public Health. Using the research findings, the council launched a Sanitation & Hygiene initiative that includes a monthly spraying of homes and community sensitization about good hygienic practices. The Initiative still exists today and has decreased the number of cases of Jiggers in the communities. It is critical research like that of Andrew and KORD’s that helps communities understand the root cause of the issue in order to form policy and action for sustainable, community-based development.

For more information about Andrew De Haan’s research, please contact FSD Jinja Uganda or KORD directly.

Improving Pupils Literacy Project

A student’s ability to read, write, and comprehend are critical skills for student academic achievement, yet many schools in Uganda fall behind in literacy development. According to UNICEF, only 40% of students are literate in Uganda by Primary 6. (https://www.unicef.org/uganda/what-we-do/quality-education) How can primary schools in Uganda increase literacy rates for students? FSD Intern Hannah Patterson spent her internship with Community Concerns Uganda (CCUg) exploring these questions and developing an asset-based approach to increase literacy development. Hannah came to FSD after completing her bachelor’s degree at Adelaide University. Upon joining CCUg, Hannah undertook an extensive community assessment to understand factors of successful and sustained literacy development at two local schools: Wabulungu and Baitambogwe Primary Schools. Through her assessments, she found that one of the greatest threats to literacy development was overstretched resources and strained relationships, which in turn negatively impacted student performance, student literacy, and student retention. However, because they are public schools, she faced limitations in increasing resources in a sustainable way without the support of the Ministry of Education and Sports, which is often difficult to secure. Therefore, the project focused on emphasizing the use of existing resources and strengths of the school.

Using the asset-based approach, Hannah looked to build the capacity of the school community (parents, teachers, and students) to address and solve their own identified challenges. By enhancing the relationships between students, teachers, and parents, she realized that all stakeholders could become engaged in the child’s academic growth. Hannah then designed a Literacy Action Plan in consultation with teachers, parents, and students to create mutual accountability in literacy development and academic growth of the students. She piloted the program at Wabulungu Primary School which included implementing “Literacy Days” – a day full of literacy games and activities at school that parents are invited to attend, which had a benefit of practicing literacy skills and building relationships. She facilitated the development of a discipline policy which would decrease corporal punishment and strengthen the relationship between teachers and students. She also created Literacy Committees for students and teachers to take accountability for their own learning.

Through her research and pilot program at Wabulungu, Hannah was able to strengthen the bond and empower the community to engage everyone in the student’s literacy development. Both CCUg and the community at Wabulungu Primary School expressed that her efforts made lasting impact on student achievement.

                          PEFO GRANDMOTHERS INITIATIVE

Oftentimes in the development world, an outsider may be tempted to offer money or goods to people lacking resources; however, it is significantly more valuable to empower communities from the ground up to solve community issues. As the old saying goes, “Give a Person a Fish, and You Feed Them for a Day. Teach a Person To Fish, and You Feed Them for a Lifetime.”

Over the summer, Johnathan, Sean and Flavia, came to Jinja as students from SUNY Geneseo. They were paired with Phoebe Education Fund for Orphans and vulnerable children (PEFO) to create a sustainable, community-development project working directly with a group of elderly women in Budondo. During their community assessment, the team found that many of the jajas (grandmothers) expressed that they wanted to be empowered in their business skills to increase their income. Oftentimes elderly people are faced with the challenge of generating income needed to provide things like food, education, and healthcare. In Uganda in particular, many elderly people face problems finding employment; maintaining their strengthen, physical ability, and health; and caring for their children and grandchildren.

Throughout their time together, the jajas explained to the SUNY students that they had practiced skills in things like crafts and tailoring, but that they lacked the business knowledge and key practices which greatly prohibits their ability to generate income. After learning of these challenges, the SUNY team, along with their colleagues at PEFO, designed a project to teach the elderly these necessary skills while also working to provide them with a platform to promote their products. The goal of the project was to empower the women with the tools and skills needed to run a successful business. With a group of about 30 jajas, the students organized a series of business classes focused on financial bookkeeping, marketing, and production-related skills such as finishing and quality-checking. The jajas were taught necessary business skills that they can also share with other members in their community. The jajas began production of a variety of crafts that were upheld to new standards and monitored through record keeping. Additionally, an online shop was created in conjunction with a new PEFO website to serve as another means of opening the market. The Jajas plan to have a physical market as well as an online market to sell their products.

Through this initiative, the jajas said they feel more confident with their newly acquired business and craft skills. The grandmothers have been keeping better physical records of the costs and profits from their businesses. Since the students have left, the jajas continue to meet weekly producing quality crafts and selling them in town. Since then, they have been preparing a catalog to be placed on the website. Through Flavia, Sean and Jonathan’s efforts, they were able to “teach them to fish” and create lasting, sustainable impact through educating and empowering the group of grandmothers in Budondo.

Lighting Up Students’ Education

Charlie, a student from Northwestern University, recently concluded his internship with FSD Jinja-Uganda. At the start of his internship, Charlie opted to work with one of our partner organization called Access to Solar Technologies (AST). The reason he chose Access to Solar was that he wanted to experience firsthand how business and sales work in developing countries. Access to Solar is a social business enterprise that has both of these elements: it works to enable communities’ access affordable, reliable, renewable technologies and to conserve their surroundings through environmental awareness and promotions. It mainly focuses on communities that are totally off the hydro-power grid.

During Charlie’s community needs assessment activity, he observed the community’s most pressing challenge regarding solar adoption was the high cost of solar products for low income consumers. Charlie assessed all AST existing client beneficiaries and its potential clients, including local community schools. Most student households that Charlie visited during his assessment demonstrated the desire to have light for their children to study. They mentioned that having solar powered light would work as an advantage of improving their children’s ability to study at home thus improving their academic excellence.

Lighting up students' Education

Charlie’s goal for his project was to provide solar lamps to students at an off-grid school to help ensure they have a similar chance of educational attainment as those who have access to power. He also wanted to implement a school-based credit recovery project for the solar lamps to ensure high credit recovery. In order to achieve this, Charlie and AST team worked out a way of reducing the cost of the solar lamps and offering them on credit to the students. This drastically increases the ability of the students to buy the lamps thus enabling them have more study time in the night.

The idea was introduced to one of AST partner schools: St Stephen Secondary School. Charlie and AST team selected a school Project Coordinator whose main responsibility was to help sell the lamps to the students, record sales, follow up on student’s credit recovery payments and to ensure money is properly collected and recycled into another class. Other project activities included implementing a repayment tracking system and educating the students on the benefits of solar.

During the implementation of the project, more than 60 students purchased lamps for themselves. As the project continues to grow, the AST team and Project Coordinator will be evaluating the students’ performances after receiving the lamps to assess the impact at the end of the school term. Additionally, some teachers and parents of the students have purchased these lamps on credit to use them for other personal entrepreneur businesses like poultry keeping.

Access to Solar continues to work in schools selling their solar products. The income generated from the project will be reinvested into another school project. The localized approach of selecting and using local project coordinators and village solar teams (VSTs) to monitor sales and credit repayments for solar products backs up the success of AST initiatives that have been working towards achieving community driven development.

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About FSD

FSD Jinja-Uganda provides opportunities for students and professionals to engage in structured community development work. The programs are designed to help build careers while having lasting impact on the people in the community which is served

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