Help Build a Community Food Bank in Rural Uganda

by The Global Hunger Project
Animator explains grafting of fruit tree seedlings
Animator explains grafting of fruit tree seedlings

The Hunger Project-Uganda

Executive Summary

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.

  • In Quarter 3, epicenters contributed towards the seed input revolving fund to procure improved seed for their partners. Improved maize seed – Longe 5 and Beans (K132) – were procured and distributed to partners to boost food production and food security both at the household and community level.
  • Monitoring of partners’ gardens to establish the germination rate of beans and maize seed was done. The germination rate for maize and beans was 30 percent and 95 percent respectively and some food has been stored in the epicenter food banks by the partners.
  • Vegetable demonstration gardens were established at the epicenters in partnership with East African Seed Company to increase the adoption rate of production of improved vegetable seed, which would subsequently contribute towards improved nutrition.
  • At Kiringente Epicenter, a 60-banana demonstration garden was set up in partnership with Kiringente Sub County National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS program) to act as both a demonstration and a source of improved banana suckers.
  • In Kiboga, cassava stems multiplication has been scaled up in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS Uganda) to increase farmers’ access to disease-free and high-yield cassava variety MH97/2961 so as to increase cassava production and food security.
  • Sensitization of farmers on cassava production and cassava diseases through radio talk shows was conducted by THP-Uganda and CRS, and a total of 59 bags of disease-resistant cassava stems (variety MH/97.2961) were distributed to partners to increase cassava production at both household and community levels.
  • A one-acre maize demo garden was established at Iganga Epicenter in partnership with the Uganda National Agricultural Inputs and Dealers Association (UNADA) for learning and demonstration purposes.
  • Partners have received training in agribusiness; crop agronomy; and post-harvest handling of maize, beans and groundnuts conducted by THP-Uganda staff and the sub-county extension workers.
  • Two planning meetings were held with Agro Ways Warehouse (a Uganda Commodity Exchange Warehouse) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to discuss payments for maize supplied by our partners for bulk marketing in Iganga and Bulamagi Epicenters. Partners received UGX 46,925,600 (US$19,250) from the sale of 107,982 kgs of maize.
  • The sudden and unpredictable weather patterns, including excessive rains and thunderstorms, coupled with poor soil, are still affecting the partners’ output. The maize and beans were mainly affected. Drought-resistant crops like yams should be encouraged in order for partners to be more food secure.

HIV/AIDS awareness increased.

  • HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality Workshops were conducted to sensitize partners on the role of gender in the spread and prevention of HIV/AIDS. Other aspects handled included the dangers of contracting HIV, overcoming stigma, voluntary counseling and testing and male involvement in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Informational and educational communication material was also given to the partners.
  • Kiboga Epicenter participated in the commemoration of the international World AIDS Day in Kiboga and Kyankwazi districts. The HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality strategy was shared with partners by specialized HIV/AIDS animators.
  • Epicenters continued to participate in the District AIDS Committee Quarterly meetings (DAC) where THP-Uganda’s HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality strategy was shared with other development partners.
  • Through the Mild May partnership, 60 HIV-positive children, orphans and vulnerable children in Kiboga Epicenter received scholastic material support which included: books, pens, pencils, geometric sets and rulers.
  • Iganga and Wakiso Epicenters, in partnership with the District Health Department and Islamic Medical Association of Uganda (IMAU), conducted mass awareness campaigns on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS where the partners were encouraged to be tested, so as to know their status.
  • IMAU has sustained its partnership with Wakiso Epicenter Health Unit in providing voluntary counseling and testing, anti-retroviral therapy and treatment of infected people.
  • In partnership with the Ministry of Health, 30 animators were identified in Namayumba Epicenter and trained for a week about malaria prevention and control and prevention of stigmatization amongst people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).

 Increased access to health services.

  • Epicenter Health Units have improved partners’ access to health services in epicenter areas. Cost-free health services were provided to partners for the following issues: dental care, treatment of malaria, eye infections, intestinal worms, sexually transmitted infections, injuries, skin diseases, urinary tract infections, oral diseases and conditions, family planning services and condom distribution.
  • Epicenter Health Units have continuously received drugs from the district local government and payment of the medical staff on a monthly basis. In Quarter 3, Wakiso Epicenter received an additional registered nurse posted by the district local government to reduce the patient-nurse ratio at the Health Unit.
  • Hand-washing campaigns in Mbarara and Kiruhura Epicenters were conducted in order to reduce fecal-related diseases and promote sanitation in homes by encouraging hand washing with soap.

Child and maternal health improved.

  • The epicenter Health Units have greatly contributed to the reduction of infant mortality and maternal mortality rates in epicenter areas. Children under the age of five years continuously access health services such as immunization against the fatal diseases, de-worming and malaria treatments.
  • The epicenter Health Units, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, participated in the national de-worming drive, where children 1-14 years old were de-wormed and infants of six months to five years received vitamin A supplements.
  • Five live births were recorded at Iganga Health Unit, 136 mothers were immunized at the epicenter in Quarter 3, 86 women and 64 men received family planning education and services, and awareness on health issues was provided to 139 women and 71 men.
  • Treated mosquito nets were distributed to pregnant mothers and children under the age of five in Mpigi, Kiringente and Kiruhura Epicenters in partnership with the Global Fund project under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to prevent the spread of malaria.

Increased awareness of sanitation, hygiene and environmental protection.

  • Trainings on household sanitation, hygiene, pit latrine construction and construction of tippy taps were conducted in Mbarara and Kiruhura Epicenters.
  • Hand-washing animators in Mbarara Epicenter received training kits from the district, which comprised training posters, a hand-washing handbook and a red apron that identifies the individual as a hand-washing ambassador. Sixty households have been mobilized by the animators to make tippy taps for hand washing, place them strategically and ensure that they wash with soap, not only after visiting the latrines.
  • In addition to open defecation sensitization, THP-Uganda staff continued to sensitize partners on how human waste can get into the body if hands are not washed properly. A tippy tap to illustrate how hand washing can be made easy and more accessible was constructed together with the partners.
  • Mbarara district (including Mbarara Epicenter) was one of 10 districts selected by the World Health Organization (WHO) to pioneer the implementation of the tippy taps as a way of encouraging people to wash hands using soap to reduce disease incidence such as diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid and other related diseases.
  • Epicenters are providing safe drinking water to partners through the boreholes constructed in partnership with the district local government. This is happening in Kiboga, Iganga and Kiringente Epicenters.
  • In Mpigi Epicenter, timber tree seedlings were planted as contribution towards environment sustainability and demonstration to partners that land unsuitable for agriculture can be put to use by planting trees.
  • Tree nursery beds were established in Kiboga, Iganga, Kiruhura and Mpigi Epicenters to provide affordable tree seedlings to partners.
  • In Mbale Epicenter, ten partners were identified by the National Forestry Research Institute to host demonstrations for fodder tree nurseries and woodlots. Meanwhile, the Farm Income Enhancement and Forestry Conservation Project provided the partners with assorted tree seedlings.

Changed mindsets, increased literacy and improved access to early childhood education.

  • VCAWs were continuously delivered to partners focusing on the five steps of ending hunger and poverty. The workshops were conducted by THP-Uganda staff and animators.
  • Through FALP, partners have acquired writing, reading and numeracy skills. In Kiboga Epicenter, instructors are processing registration as an association to be able to lobby for support from the district and other development stakeholders.
  • The epicenter nursery schools continued to provide early childhood education to children in all the epicenters. This has provided a very strong foundation for the children joining the primary section.

Women’s economic empowerment achieved.

  • Wakiso Rural Bank in partnership with a local community-based organization, called A-Z, identified a group of PLWHAs who have been considered for loans to enable them to invest in income-generating activities (IGAs) as a way of improving their welfare.
  • Coupled with the above, the rural bank acquired a new motorcycle for the loans officer as an asset to improve on the efficiency of the operations of the bank in the community, especially in loan recoveries.
  • Kiboga Rural Bank received a new motorcycle, a computer set and printer from the Uganda Prosperity for All Program through the Uganda Credit and Savings Cooperative Union as support to government-recognized SACCOs contributing to eradication of hunger and extreme poverty through the Microfinance Program (MFP).
  • Mbarara Rural Bank (MESACCO) received official government recognition on August 25, 2010, becoming the sixth rural bank in THP-Uganda. The celebrations to mark the official inauguration took place at the Epicenter on December 8, 2010, with a turnout of over 500 partners, who exhibited various IGAs in which they are engaged.
  • New loan products were introduced by the rural banks, which included: agricultural loans, market day loans, and motorcycle loans. Discussions to start up solar loans to improve on rural lighting are in progress.
  • Presence of the satellite banks in Kiboga, Wakiso, Iganga, Mpigi and Kiringente Epicenters has led to increased membership, shares and access to affordable rural financial services.
  • THP-Uganda hosted the Senior Microfinance Program Officer rom the Global Office, Marie Mintalucci, who visited and interacted with partners from different epicenters.

Program consolidation, village and local government partnerships enhanced

  • THP-Uganda hosted a team of eight investors from Australia, who appreciated THP’s Epicenter Strategy for the end of hunger and poverty and pledged continued support.
  • A memorandum of understanding between Namirembe Diocese – Church of Uganda, Wakiso District local government and THP-Uganda to implement the Epicenter Strategy in Namayumba in Wakiso District entered its final stages. Namirembe diocese has so far donated land equivalent to five acres for epicenter establishment. Meanwhile, material mobilization by the local community and the church are underway.
  • The National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) continued to extend agricultural extension services and establishment of demonstration projects targeting partners.
  • THP-Uganda staff and epicenter committee members participated in several policy engagement workshops organized by the sub-county and the district.
  • An epicenter received a team from Uganda Microfinance Support Center (UMSC) Mbale office, who were on a fact-finding mission regarding the epicenter MFP. The epicenter committee will continue lobbying for supplementary support from UMSC to boost the MFP of the epicenter.


Objective Not Achieved

Reasons/Lessons Learned

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:

  • THP-Uganda is part of the network of international and United Nations agencies that operate in the country in the area of Food Security and Livelihoods (FSAL). Monthly meetings for dialogue and information sharing are held under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WFP. These meetings focus on the open exchange of ideas on both government and donor policies, in addition to finding better ways of program implementation.
  • A broader strategic partnership agreement with Child Fund Uganda for joint implementation of programs in various sectors of interest to both organizations was signed. Implementation will start in 2011 in Kiboga Epicenter.
  • Follow-up is underway on formalizing a partnership agreement with Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) and Heifer International to implement a domestic bio-gas program in our epicenters. We hope that this will enhance the already existing partnership with Uganda Dairy Development Program/Heifer-Uganda, which is active with partners for accessing heifers and continued training in productive dairy-keeping methods.
  • Finalizing a partnership agreement with FIT Uganda Ltd towards capacity building for the rural banks, especially the development of a Business Development Centre (BDC) for building the capacity of the rural banks at a fee met by the banks themselves, as a sustainable way to ensure proper continuity and growth of the rural banks as they start to become more complex in their operations.
  • Ford Foundation continued to play a key role in the improvements of the MFP. However, the contract expires in June 2011 and there is a need to follow-up with the foundation for the possibility of extension of the contract and/or scale-up.
  • In Mbale Epicenter, THP is to partner with Malaria and Other Child Illness (MACIS) NGO Secretariat under the auspices of AMREF and the Ministry of Health to access treated mosquito nets, water and sanitation training manuals and actual training for partners.
  • Wakiso Epicenter established a partnership with Marie Stopes-Uganda, which assists with training on Health, sanitation and environment. Sixty-five village health teams from five parishes were given refresher training on HIV/AIDS.
  • Partnership with the Islamic Medical Association of Uganda (IMAU) in Wakiso Epicenter continued through provision of treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
  • In Kiboga, THP-Uganda is implementing a four-year cassava project in partnership with Catholic Relief Services and the National Agriculture Research Organization, with a major objective of increasing food production and food security at both household and community level. To date, 48 farmer groups have received training on cassava diseases and control and a total of 2,726 individual farmers have received improved disease free cassava stems in the epicenter area. The project will end in September 2011.


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.


Recent Innovations  

  • A partnership with the Uganda Cooperatives Savings and Credit Union (UCSCU) was initiated. All rural banks are to be mobilized to sign a Memoranda of Understanding with UCSCU so as to access other services such as quarterly technical supervision, low interest on loans to the rural bank, and annual audit of expenses.
  • Rural banks began providing an agricultural loan product in the epicenters. This loan product will go a long way to extend loans to partners in relation to seasonality and program of action according to the specific enterprise selection. It is hoped that this new product will result in more profitability to the banks as well as ensuring higher membership at the bank, as partners’ needs will be met more comprehensively.
  • In order to improve partners’ access to MFP, satellite banks (kiosks) manned by the Village Loan Committees were set up in remote epicenter areas. This has motivated the partners to save more and also to make timely loan repayments.


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

  • Priority is given to Mbale and Kiruhura Epicenters for implementing the catalytic programs, although all epicenters will continue with their programs as planned.
  • Construction of Namayumba Epicenter building in partnership with Namayumba community and Wakiso District Local Government.
  • Work towards improving the MFP by strengthening the operations of the rural banks through a business development center to provide business information services and technical assistance as they continue to grow in number and scope. This will be supported with financial partnerships with like-minded organizations.
  • Consolidate epicenter components where they are lacking, especially constructing bigger food banks in epicenters that were constructed before the new model of separate rural food banks was initiated.
  • Implementing new partnerships, seeking new ones as well as maintaining the existing ones, for possible funding opportunities, especially with the Government of Uganda for the Epicenter Strategy and Microfinance Support Center for the rural banks. We are hopeful that some of the partnerships we have entered into might result in some funding opportunities, though it should be noted that our core programs depend on realistic budget support. Henceforth, continued budget shortfalls, if not addressed, may become a big hindrance to the achievement of these plans and objectives.
  • Development of THP-Uganda training manuals in partnership with a team of students from Columbia University.
WHO tippy tap demonstration at epicenter
WHO tippy tap demonstration at epicenter
Mbale Epicenter Inauguration
Mbale Epicenter Inauguration


Epiceter Community Meeting
Epiceter Community Meeting

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: an uncommon approach to ending rural poverty

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.

Health Services

  • Epicenter clinics provided cost-free health services to men and women for issues including dental care, treatment of malaria, eye infections, intestinal worms, sexually transmitted infections, injuries, skin diseases, urinary tract infections and oral diseases.

  • The ministry of health has been timely in providing promised drugs and payments for nurses and medical staff on a monthly basis. Additionally, the local district government recently provided Wakiso Epicenter with an additional registered nurse to reduce the patient-nurse ratio at the health clinic.

  • THP-trained community leaders, or animators, launched hand-washing campaigns in Mbarara and Kiruhura Epicenters in order to reduce infectious diseases and promote sanitation in homes.

  • Hand washing animators, with additional training from the district health ministry, created training posters, a hand-washing handbook and a red apron that identifies the individual as a hand washing ambassador. The animators also assisted sixty households in installing “tippy taps” – strategically placed hand washing stations made from plastic containers that make it more convenient for people wash with soap. Tippy taps have proven to reduce the incidence of diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid and other related diseases.

Training rural farmers in new agricultural methods

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.

Reduced instance of disease in all epicenters

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. 

Microfinance Updates

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.

Profile of a Leader in the Community           

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.

Matthew Bamwanga by a garden
Matthew Bamwanga by a garden

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's Food Bank

 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.

Mbale Meeting Preschool Song
Mbale Meeting Preschool Song
Mbale Microfinance Partner
Mbale Microfinance Partner

Kiruhura Epicenter Building
Kiruhura Epicenter Building

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.

Kiruhura Microfinance Women Partners
Kiruhura Microfinance Women Partners
Kiruhura Microfinance Partner
Kiruhura Microfinance Partner's Passionfruits


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Organization Information

The Global Hunger Project

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​
The Global Hunger Project
Project Leader:
Kimberly Worsham
Foundations Associate
New York, New York United States

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