What began as mere curiosity about the state of social protection services in Uganda blossomed into something so much larger and more beautiful as my research went underway. With each consecutive interview and interaction with the NGOs and CBOs carrying the burden and blessing of providing for the nation's poorest individuals, it became clear to me that they lack the resources to be as effective as they wish they could be.
Regardless of the overall mission or mechanisms used to combat poverty by an organization, one theme was often present: microfinancing and income generating activity (IGA) training for some of Uganda's most vulnerable population - women. Nearly every organization also noted that their biggest challenges were financial sustainability and the lack of government assistance, accountability, and follow-through. Often, an organization would have the funds to train the IGAs but not to provide loans and would have to rely on group-members' savings for primary funding after utilizing all of their financial resources on materials such as craft materials, fabric, animal feed, baking incredients, or charcoal.
While these programs tend to be successful, at least among the organizations I was able to meet with, one women's microfinancing group in Jinja had likely never heard of the other, similar, organization just two blocks down Lubas Road or Main Street. My hope is to continue to stay in contact with these women's microfinancing organizations and, in turn, put them in contact with eachother to exchange ideas, resources, and support. Perhaps by collaborating and sharing resources the organizations can become even more effective and efficient by, for example, can ensure that no one is receiving services from multiple organizations and help those that need it most.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...
...so here they are.
1. Rose, the head of Women Rights Initiative (WORI), accepting an application for a microfinancing loan in Mafubira, a rural district (above)
2. Beavan, Rose's brother, making leather shoes to sell at the market.
3. Some of the popular paper beads, a skill often taught to women as an IGA to be sold by foreign or local companies and earn a percentage of the profit or to take to one of the many craft markets.
4. A group member of Women Empowerment and Livelihood Links (WELL) in Mafubira making small pastries that are generally brought for lunch by school children.
5. Children at Clemency Uganda in the Bugembe district performing a welcoming song and dance for me as their visitor