Our Past, Present, and Future Projects
From dawn till dusk…
“The base of Uganda is agriculture and our backbone. We are plowing here with a local hoe. If you can assist us we are asking you to give us at least two oxen for plowing. To give us support to maintain our health” – Local council at Onea “B” Village, Oyam District, Northern Uganda. July 2010
These are the words I heard during our 2010 summer visit to Uganda. Throughout all the villages the biggest request was for oxen and ploughs.
Uganda has very good soil and sufficient rain for two full growing seasons. Farming is a good way for villagers to feed themselves and to get out of poverty. The biggest problem is that this requires hard manual labour. At the break of dawn men and women will go to the fields and spend all day preparing the fields. This takes many days to complete. This work is done but the hard labour limits the size of the field and the crop.
NUDF responded by purchasing 8 oxen and ploughs in the summer of 2010. Since then the oxen have been trained and are being rented out to farmers. We are currently in the process of buying 6 more oxen.
We keep the oxen and ploughs at our base in Kamdini. They can be rented out by farmers and villages for a small fee to help the village plough its fields faster. We decided to keep the oxen for a few reasons. We could affect a greater number of villages; and the villagers have to take some responsibility for their progress by paying the small fee. Using the oxen is much easier on the villagers and will allow them to farm larger plots of land and increase their food production.
Farming their way out of poverty
For years, many donor nations have done a “kindly” disservice to the people of Africa. We have poured money and aid into Africa trying to help, often with our ideas of what form that help should take, with little accountability. It has been argued that the donor nations have created an attitude of helplessness and a mentality of complacency.
Northern Uganda Development Foundation (NUDF), struggles with this issue. We have been very careful to consult with villages to assess their needs and then tried to fulfill them. We have found that the greatest need is clean and safe drinking water and we have responded by installing 63 wells supplying clean and safe drinking water to over 100,000 people to date.
Many villages approached us in their need for water. We have required that each village assign a committee to raise funds for future repairs. This has worked very well, and all are functioning except one well which will be repaired. We check each well about every three months. We require accountability and sustainability. With extremely little income even something as important as clean water is hard to maintain.
Not having any way to generate money is the real problem.
A few years ago NUDF received a UN Millennium Development grant for a demonstration farm. With our demonstration farm we educate villagers about growing nutritional foods for their own needs and also to become a money generating endeavor. This is where it gets exciting. Because of our demonstration farm we received a request from a women’s group in Northern Uganda. I quote from Geoffrey Odongo, NUDF’s representative in Uganda, “We have been approached by the Dog Abam Women’s Group, an umbrella association comprising 4 different groups with 60 members. They have asked for help with farming. I have temporarily given them 1 acre of land close to the demonstration farm. They intend to transfer the knowledge acquired from the demonstration farm to grow vegetables. However, they do not have funds to buy seeds, pesticides and drugs, tools, and fertilizer.” This women’s group has produced a management plan that details production, management, processing and marketing of these crops. The group has opened a bank account to invest profits. They also provided sustainability strategies for this project.
This is exactly what NUDF strives to do! This is the initiative we try to foster and support. These women of Northern Uganda are trying desperately to climb out of the cycle of poverty. They have taken a major step in becoming sustainable and providing their families food and a source of income. We did provide funds to this group and are closely monitoring this project.
For only $275.00 you can empower women like these to help themselves and their village! At an average of 7 people/household this $275 can potentially feed 420 people and provide income! This is not just for today but well into the future.
This project and others like it can empower villagers to provide food and lasting income for their whole village. This is what the villagers want and this is what they need. This is sustainable. NUDF will monitor this group and any other groups that apply for funding. It is our job to provide accountability. With hard work, ensuring sustainability and accountability, we can’t fail. You can change the lives of many in a sustainable and accountable way.