This reporting period covers activities from July-December 2010 (Quarters 3 and 4). Activities were implemented within the context of The Hunger Project’s (THP’s) global strategic direction. The focus was on the three strategic pillars: mobilization, empowering women and partnership with local governments. All programs were implemented according to the Epicenter Strategy in all 11 epicenters in the eight districts of operation. Six of these epicenters, Mbarara, Iganga, Kiboga, Mpigi, Wakiso and Kiringente, have been declared self-reliant; the Mbale Epicenter has just entered phase three; Kiruhura Epicenter is in phase three; and Namayumba, Bulamagi and Kenshunga are in phase one.
The programs implemented included food production and food security; HIV/AIDS and gender inequality; health and nutrition; water, sanitation and environment; Vision, Commitment and Action Workshops (VCAWs); functional adult literacy program (FALP) classes and early childhood education; microfinance and women’s empowerment; and Mbale Epicentre construction. Some activities were implemented through partnerships with other like-minded organizations. The most effective partnerships included those with MildMay, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Ford Foundation, Bead for Life and the district local governments.
The key achievements registered during the Quarter 3 of 2010 included: mobilization of local materials to complete the Mbale Epicenter structures and the L-shaped building being almost ready for inauguration; Mbale District local government made budget estimates to construct a two-stance pit latrine for medical staff quarters, placenta pit, beds for the Health Unit, delivery beds, water tank, filing cabinets, and other items as per the signed Memorandum of Understanding; hosting the Senior Microfinance Program Officer (MFPO) from THP Global Office, Marie Mintalucci; Registration of Mbarara Savings and Credit Cooperative (ME-SACCO or rural bank) becoming the sixth government-recognized and women-owned and managed rural bank of THP-Uganda; and final agreements with Namirembe Diocese (Church of Uganda) and Wakiso District local government to implement the Epicenter Strategy in Namayumba were in final stages. Namirembe diocese donated five acres of land for epicenter establishment, and processing of the 49-year lease offer for land for the Namayumba Epicenter was in the final stages. Local material mobilization was in progress, spearheaded by the local community leaders and the church.
The key achievements registered during Quarter 4 of 2010 included: (i) completion and subsequent inauguration of Mbale Epicenter in a public assembly; the epicenter is now in phase three of the Epicenter Strategy; (ii) inauguration of Mbarara’s SACCO in a public assembly, becoming the sixth government-recognized and women-owned and managed rural bank of THP Uganda; (iii) THP-Uganda hosted a team of eight investors from Australia who appreciated THP-Uganda’s Epicenter Strategy for the end of hunger and poverty and pledged continued support; and (iv) through continuous follow-up, THP-Uganda realized the presidential pledge of a motor vehicle (truck) to support Mpigi Epicenter.
Details on Progress
Food security improvements.
HIV/AIDS awareness increased.
Increased access to health services.
Child and maternal health improved.
Increased awareness of sanitation, hygiene and environmental protection.
Changed mindsets, increased literacy and improved access to early childhood education.
Women’s economic empowerment achieved.
Program consolidation, village and local government partnerships enhanced
Objective Not Achieved
Official inauguration of Mbale Epicenter delayed.
Mobilization of local materials to complete the Mbale Epicenter structures extended to Quarter 3 due to challenges in local materials mobilization. While Mbale District Local Government committed to meet the cost of power installations, construction of a two-stance pit latrine for medical staff quarters, placenta pit, beds for the health center, delivery beds, water tank, filing cabinets and other items, bureaucratic procurement processes delayed the implementation of their commitment as per the signed MOU. However, processing of the 49-year lease offer for the epicenter land is in its final stages.
Challenges of increasing food production to guarantee food security.
Supply of poor seeds by East Africa Seed Company to our partners leading to poor crop germination and harvests especially for maize. East Africa Seed Company is to resupply our partners with maize this season at the same cost
In addition to maintaining the existing partnerships with other development agencies and the Government of Uganda both at central and local levels, initiatives to develop new partnerships were undertaken as follows:
Broader Awareness and Advocacy
THP-Uganda’s Epicenter Strategy and HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality trainings working to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS were published in the Uganda’s Annual HIV & AIDS success story magazine in December 2010.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Through the people-centered monitoring and evaluation (M&E) methodology, THP-Uganda has contributed to improving the lives of partners by building their capacity to create, lead and monitor their own actions to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Epicenters have research teams that have been selected to identify the major concerns and problems, then to initiate research, take action to learn more and proceed to a new research project. The teams periodically collect data on different program components through observation, interviewing partners and focus group discussions. Their research is then displayed on the statistics boards in the epicenters.
THP-Uganda is also in the process of developing the Theory of Change (TOC) model to guide and assist in monitoring and evaluation of THP-Uganda work focusing on the organizational strategies, immediate outcomes, intermediate outcome and long-term outcomes for five years and 15 years. A draft TOC diagram has been developed in consultation with the Global Office and ActKnowledge consultants, based in New York; the process is still on-going.
The Project Officers of Iganga, Mbale and Kiboga Epicenters participated in an M&E Capacity Assessment workshop for civil-society organizations engaged in health activities in the mid-western region. The training was facilitated by the Malaria and Childhood Illness NGO Secretariat (MACIS). The following modules were covered: overview of M&E, linking project design to M&E, setting up a functional M&E system, data quality and data use.
Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 (2011) Priorities
THP’s mission is to empower men and women to end their own hunger and build a better future for their families and their communities. We enable small farmers to access basic services such as sanitation, education, health care and expertise in better farming practices. We empower women not only because they are disproportionally poor, but also because they are a powerful leverage point for lifting communities out of poverty. Scattered throughout the countryside, we mobilize people – often in neighboring villages who have never met each other – through workshops and trainings designed to bring communities together in pursuit of common goals, shifting their mindset of “I can’t,” to “I can,” to “we can.”
In 2010, THP Uganda’s programs enabled over 650,000 people in 715 rural villages to increase their self-reliance and end their own hunger.
THP-Uganda was launched in 1999 and has established 11 Epicenter communities, 6 of which have established independent Rural Banks. The program employs 25 native Ugandans in the central office in Kampala and 2 regional offices.
The Epicenter Strategy is THP’s integrated approach for achieving the MDGs in Africa. This approach unites roughly 10,000 people in a cluster of rural villages to create what we call an epicenter: a place where communities unite to build a better future together. Through an approach that is uncommon among NGOs, THP forges partnerships with local governments and local communities, both of which contribute resources to create a vibrant and self-reliant community.
Epicenter communities steadily progress to self-reliance over a 5 to 8 year period. In the first several years, villagers experience improvements in their quality of life: mothers access loans and invest in small enterprises such as candle and soap-making, agriculture, petty-trade and animal rearing. A clinic staffed with government nurses improves maternal health and child nutrition. Villagers learn to operate, maintain and repair their wells and latrines. The community takes ownership of and derives dignity from their development – the foundation for sustainable social change.
Across Africa, THP has mobilized approximately 2,200 villages to establish 115 epicenter communities, reaching over two million people across Africa. Each epicenter addresses issues related to the MDGs, including water and sanitation, food security, women’s empowerment the environment, health services, education and family income. Twenty-one epicenters have established their own Rural Bank, a part of our strategy that enables communities to access savings and loan services.
Recent Highlights from Uganda Mbale Epicenter Constructed: The epicenter community of Mbale completed its epicenter building in the fall of 2010, which will house its community-led programs. In keeping with THP’s strategy of partnering with local government, epicenter members successfully appealed to government agencies to supply resources such as hospital and delivery beds, water tanks and other medical supplies. Additionally, agencies will contribute to the completion of medical staff quarters at the epicenter, so that government nurses can be available twenty-four hours a day.
Mbarara Epicenter recognizes Rural Bank: The Microfinance Program at Mbarara Epicenter was officially recognized as a Rural Bank in 2010, becoming the sixth Rural Bank established by THP-Uganda.
THP staff and local government farming specialists continued to train local people in agribusiness, crop agronomy and post-harvest handling of maize, beans and ground nuts, at epicenter demonstration farms. Kiboga Epicenter showcased six new cassava varieties to partners, and over 1,000 partners, mainly women, and 31 farmer groups received improved cassava stems for multiplication. Additionally, In Partnership with Catholic Relief Services, THP conducted promotional campaigns through radio talk shows on food security, specifically on cassava multiplication and production, on six talk shows on Radio Kiboga.
As a result of the distribution of vaccines and mosquito nets, all epicenters have seen a decrease in disease, including malaria, polio, diphtheria, and HIV/AIDS.
THP-Uganda’s Microfinance Program, launched in 2001, now manages over 4,000 loans and US $600,000 in revolving capital, in addition to a burgeoning savings program that includes 8,000 people who have saved close to US $200,000. Partners are trained in book keeping, income-generating skills and small business management. Additionally, in 2010, THP-Uganda’s Microfinance Program trained over 7,500 women in small business creation and over 6,000 women in income generation from April 2009 to April 2010. Our partners use their increased income to send their children to school, put shoes on their feet and keep them well-nourished.
All six epicenters that have established Rural Banks have begun covering all of their operating expenses within two years. Each Rural Bank has a healthy profit at the end of each year to divide between shareholders and use for other purposes, like Rural Bank growth.
Microfinance Partner, Uganda
A new innovation has proven successful in Uganda: Satellite Banks. These small kiosks are funded by the Ford Foundation and are currently staffed with volunteer Board Members with plans to have paid Loan Officers rotate through. The kiosks respond to the fact that some villages are located more than 20km from the epicenter. They offer deposit and withdrawal services, bringing financial opportunities closer to rural communities, as well as improving recruitment and repayment. Over fifteen Satellite Banks have been established throughout Uganda.
THP now partners with a Uganda insurance company to offer a product for partners with outstanding loans in the event of death or loss of an immediate family member. One percent of the interest paid on each loan is deposited in the insurance account and a standard claim amount of US$50 is awarded. This will help cushion the financial shock to the family as well as protect the portfolio.
Mathew Bamwanga, the Chairperson of the Kiruhura Epicenter committee, is 60 years old and initially moved to the Kiruhura district to acquire more land because the land he owned was not sufficient to expand his farm. He acquired more land in Kiruhura, but experienced challenges as the land was drier compared to his former farm, leading to crop failure.
When THP-Uganda started trainings in Kiruhura district in 2007, he attended a series of workshops and was eventually elected as a member of the epicenter committee through community elections.
As the epicenter matured and began offering a variety of programs, he was able to access improved, early maturing, high-yielding and drought-resistant beans. He received 10 kgs and managed to harvest 400 kgs, which was his highest harvest recorded compared to previous seasons.
He sold 300 kgs at roughly .62¢US per kg, earning him US $186, which he used to buy two acres of land currently planted with pineapples, further boosting his daily income.
The following planting season, Mathew harvested 1,000 kgs of beans, allowing him to contribute 90 kgs to the epicenter food bank. He has since used profits to purchase four additional acres of land, where he established a banana plantation.
He appreciates the trust relationship he has established with his community members and with THP-Uganda. And most of all, he is proud that he can easily feed his family and send his children to school.
Mathew is the chairperson-elect of Kiruhura Epicenter, and he has been elected in his parish as National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) chairperson. As a community leader, he has encouraged partners to move towards investing in high-yield cattle breeds as a way of increasing their household income. He lobbied the NAADS program in his parish, and it has now started giving out more improved seeds – just like the ones that helped jump start his small enterprise – to other members of his community.
Wife and Husband Realize Full Potential of Vision, Commitment and Action Workshops
Mr. and Mrs. Mugerwa of Namayumba Epicenter have worked with THP-Uganda since 2004. Both have taken full advantage of numerous trainings and workshops, and continue to learn new and innovative ways of conducting business, generating income and empowering their family and community. As a result they have become inspiring role-models for others in their community.
Among several of their THP-inspired projects, the Mugerwas maintain dairy cows, pigs, a granary, an underground well for their home, a small banana plantation and a trading shop that serves several of the surrounding villages.
After taking Microenterprise trainings at the epicenter, Mrs. Mugerwa began her small enterprises with a trading shop in 2004 with an initial loan of around US$127. "I invested [the loan] in poultry. Later I took another loan and, together with the profits from the poultry, acquired a heifer which began to generate income with the milk sales." Her prompt loan repayment led to an improved status within the epicenter bank and a growing personal business.
Continued epicenter trainings in food production motivated the Mugerwas to construct a granary at their home, which in addition to providing storage for their own food, allows them enough space for bulk storage, leading Mr. Mugerwa to begin a business of bulk purchasing and sales. The granary is currently stocked with over 1,500 kgs of maize awaiting sale.
One of the Mugerwas' most recent additions is an underground well for their home. After attending a Water, Sanitation and Environment workshop, they constructed the well. "We never run out of clean water at home," Mrs. Mugerwa proudly states. "It's one of the best choices we made and I don't regret it. The initial cost may raise concern to some, but believe me, after five months, one realizes their money's worth and the structure will be there eternally."
The Mugerwas’ continued growth has enabled them to build a house, install solar panels, send their children to school full-time and begin to expand their shop and dairy farm. Mrs. Mugerwa plans to send all of the children to university with their ever-increasing savings.
"My husband and I are change agents empowering people to end their own hunger and poverty," she said.
Profile of a Leader in the Community
Mathew Bamwanga, the Chairperson of the Kiruhura Epicenter committee, is 60 years old and a resident of Kitura sub-county, Kiruhura district.
Mathew moved from Bushenyi district to Kiruhura district to acquire a bigger piece of land (measuring 20 acres) because the land he owned did not allow him to implement extension agriculture. He acquired the 20 acres of land in Kiruhura, but experienced more challenges as the land was drier compared to the land in Bushenyi district, leading to crop failure.
When THP-Uganda started trainings in Kiruhura district in 2007, he attended the VCAWs and was elected as a member of the epicenter committee through democratic elections held by the community.
When the epicenter moved to phase two and all catalytic programs were introduced, he was one of the partners to receive improved, early maturing, high-yielding and drought-resistant beans. He received 10 kgs and managed to harvest 400 kgs, which was his highest harvest recorded compared to the previous seasons.
He sold 300 kgs at UGX 1,500 (.62¢US) per kg, earning him UGX 350,000 (US $145), which he used to buy two acres of land currently planted with pineapples. The pineapple business has improved his daily income.
The following planting season, Mathew received 30 kgs of improved, early maturing, high-yielding and drought-resistant beans from THP-Uganda and harvested 1,000 kgs, allowing him to contribute 90 kgs to the epicenter food bank. He again sold 700 kgs out of 1,000 kilograms at UGX 1,000 (.41¢US) per kg, earning him UGX 700,000 (US $300). He used the money to purchase four acres of land, where he established a banana plantation for feeding his family.
He is proud of THP-Uganda and appreciates the trust relationship he has established with his community members. Currently, Mathew is the chairperson-elect of Kiruhura Epicenter.
He has been elected in his parish as National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) chairperson, and he has encouraged partners to move towards investing in high-yield exotic cattle breeds as a way of increasing their household income.
He lobbied the NAADS program in his parish, and it has now started giving out the improved seeds to the members for planting.
Mbale Epicenter saw tremendous development in the last half of 2010. Local materials were mobilized for the epicenter building, as well as for the food bank, medical staff quarters and the new six-pit latrine. Epicenter members also began repairing window panes and painting the building’s shutters.
Members completed construction of a shed to house the heifer pledged by the Mbale District local government. Although the local government has made budget estimates for their planned contributions toward the construction and furnishing of the epicenter, the epicenter has yet to receive these provisions.
Meanwhile, the nine Microfinance Program Groups received credit worth a total of 16,950,000 shillings (US $6,780). Finally, 983 partners (560 women and 423 men) attended Mbale’s twelve Vision, Commitment and Action (VCA) workshops.
Six Month Achievements: Mbale From April 1, 2010 to September 30, 2010
In Quarter 2 of 2010, members of Mbale Epicenter stocked 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of food in the Food Bank. In Quarter 3, the number of food stored nearly tripled to 286 kilograms, or 630 pounds, leaving Mbale epicenter members with total storage of 386 kilos, or 850 pounds! Also, 2,914 trees were planted through the Water, Environment and Sanitation program in Mbale.
Through the VCA workshops, the Mbale Epicenter during this reporting period trained 20 animators, over 30 Epicenter Committee Members, and almost 500 on Women’s Empowerment in the Gender Equality Program. 62% of the participants were women.
Partner Story: Aeron Siu
Aeron Siu, an Animator Leader at the Mbale Epicenter, doubles as a local government leader, representing his parish to the regional Sub-County government. Aeron was eager to share his success story with THP’s Mbale Project Officer, Fred Walyaula. This is what he had to say:
“We in Busoba Sub-County are blessed that THP-Uganda and Mbale District local government selected Busoba to host and implement the Epicenter Strategy.” Aeron went on to recall the time when he and other residents were informed that Namwaro village in Bunanimi Parish of Busoba Sub-County would become an epicenter and part of THP’s strategy. “At the start, we did not properly visualize the future benefits of the epicenter strategy until we attended several of the trainings called the VCA workshops. During one of the workshops, we were told that ‘to end hunger and poverty,’ we needed to change our way of thinking and have a vision for a better future.”
Aeron also remembers that in the past, he had tried to grow a few crops and keep one or two animals; a number of challenges rendered his efforts unsuccessful and almost made him give up on life. He says, “Many development agencies came to our village and supported us, but the problem of hunger and poverty in our village was not solved.” He adds that when family members fell sick, he could not afford to purchase the costly drugs and the family was unable to raise enough food to feed itself. He noted that his children did not attend good schools, and even when they did, they went on an empty stomach, greatly affecting their performance. Aeron added, “This situation was not about to change until I put into practice what THP-Uganda preached about: the issue of changing the mindset and creating a vision of a better future.”
Aeron said that in 2009 and early in 2009, he received several trainings through THP Microfinance Program which enhanced his skills in loan management. He explained, “In January 2010, I accessed a loan worth 300,000 Ugandan Shillings (US $134), which I used to boost my rice-growing enterprise by about two acres. My personal contribution was 400,000 shillings (US $178).” Aeron harvested 20 bags of rice from this undertaking, improving both his income and food security.
Aeron is looking forward to realizing a number of benefits from his family’s epicenter. “I have been actively participating in mobilizing local materials for our epicenter, which is near completion,” he noted, pointing to the almost-finished structures. “Soon, I may not need to ride a bicycle into Mbale town to access drugs when family members and I fall sick.” Aeron stated that he will continue to borrow from the epicenter’s microfinance program, adding “After all, the bank will be managed by us.”
Meanwhile, Aeron’s vision of his future has certainly developed. He shared that he intends to allocate money for his children to receive a better education. He plans to purchase rainwater harvesting tanks; he aims to acquire a pick-up truck to transport his produce to market. He also wants to invest in an alternative source of energy, like bio gas, to ensure his family’s access to energy.
Aeron thanks THP-Uganda for empowering him, and notes that he calls upon his community to embrace THP’s programs in order to sustainably develop. He is grateful to all international partners, pledging to always remember them for the great opportunity they have given both him and his community.
On every measure, Kiruhura Epicenter has improved the lives of its members and the surrounding populations. Importantly, these epicenter partners take full ownership over the continued gains, ensuring the epicenter’s sustainability. Prior to the creation of the epicenter, community members participated in neither local government activity planning nor budgeting processes. However, male and female partners alike now regularly demand services from the local government, promoting sustainable service provision in and around Kiruhura.
Furthermore, THP-Uganda’s Monitoring & Evaluation activities (see below) demonstrate real gains in every program area. Epicenter members are accessing safe drinking water, more children are attending school, microfinance participants are enrolled in adult literacy and numeracy classes, and healthcare is a regularly provided service through the clinic. Importantly, recent surveys show that most households now access at least two meals a day. This trend is sure to continue, as Kiruhura’s Vision, Commitment and Action workshops (VCAs) have now succeeded in firmly establishing epicenter leaders at all local levels to lead development in the community.
Six Month Achievements: Kiruhura From April 1, 2010 to September 30, 2010
Kiruhura has seen a lot of improvements over the last six months. In 2009, no loans were dispersed at Kiruhura Epicenter; in 2010, about 30 loans were dispersed, showing a successful initiation of the Microfinance Program.
The Epicenter Food Bank more than tripled the kilos of seeds distributed to partners, and in 2010 distributed 1,270 kilos.
Health precautions and preventative care are being adopted by the community, with over 30 malaria bednets distributed to partners.
Over 50 adult partners have now been enrolled in the adult literacy classes.
Partner Story: Betty Ayebazibwe
Betty Ayebazibwe, a 45-year-old mother of four children, is a happy member of Kiruhura Epicenter. She comes from Rwemamba Bakyaara Tweheyo in Rwemamba parish, located in Kashongi sub-county. THP-Uganda’s Project Officer, James Tinkamanyire, recorded this success story during one of his field visits:
Betty started their conversation with a brief background of her initial predicament. She said: “Being a single mother, I did not have money to pay school fees for my children, although I loved to see them go school. In an effort to see my children go to school, I approached the head teacher of the nearby school to allow me sell labor to the school in return for fees for my children, but all in vain since there were many casual laborers, a response I received from the head teacher.” Betty, however, did not stop at that; she tried her luck elsewhere until she landed a small job on a farm, which fetched her 10,000 Ugandan shillings (US $4.50) per month. She depended on this amount for her day to day household needs.
However, Betty’s daily demands and having four children to look after meant that her means were enormously stretched on a mere 10,000 shillings per month. She lived in a ramshackle mud-and-wattle house, which later collapsed following a heavy storm. As she was unable to provide sufficient meals for the family, her young children used to fall sick and Betty could not afford the medicine necessary to treat them. She recalled a low point following the heavy storm, when she spent over two weeks sleeping outside with her children in an open shelter. Betty noted that “it was during this period that Ms. Leocadia Byakatonda [THP community representative and Betty’s neighbor] found me cooking in the open and yet it was raining.” Leocadia’s visit seems to have been the turning point in Betty’s life. The following week, Leocadia accompanied her as Betty became a member of the Kiruhura Epicenter.
Betty praises for THP: “This is an organization that shall bring hope and happiness to women in this village.” Betty added that, in the past, she never heard of organizations that give loans to the needy persons like her. She confirmed that when she attended three VCA workshops conducted by THP leaders, she realized that THP has come to reignite people’s willingness to work for a better future. “I now know many people from this village who have become my friends and they are very helpful; I was able to access a loan after attending microfinance trainings, the VCAWs have ‘opened my eye’”.
Betty received her first loan as part of a group of 14 other women who belong to the Rwemamba Bakyaara Tweheyo group (‘Tweheyo’ means they are committed to working very hard). The group’s first loan amounted to 2,250,000 shillings (US $1,000) and Betty’s share of the loan was 150,000 shillings ($67)*. She used part of the loan to purchase high-quality maize and bean seeds to plant across two acres. Another part of her loan bought uniforms for her school-aged children and covered their school fees.
Betty’s house is truly becoming her family’s home. Betty made the walls of the house herself, and her small children fetched water for mixing mud, making sure that they smeared the house before school each morning and after school each evening. Betty was soon able to take out a second loan. For the past six months, Betty has been servicing a second loan of 300,000 shillings (US $134), of which she used a balance of 150,000 shillings (US $67) to purchase three goats. Luck was on Betty’s side when two of the goats gave birth just a few days later, nearly doubling her flock to five goats. Betty feels revitalized by her new, completed house and the reliable income from her goats. Betty told us that she had long looked for a loan, but every lender she met required her to produce some sort of collateral. Betty’s ‘Tweheyo’ loan group with THP allowed her to safely take out a loan while realizing a better future for her children.
* THP’s group loans provide a social safety net for first-time loans. The group loan ensures that individuals receive the encouragement and support to commit to repayment, and allows THP to shift some loan follow-up work to community members themselves, both increasing community ownership of the microfinance program while cutting THP’s overhead.
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