June 13, 2018
By Mike Ziemerink
Odeta is a 23-year-old mother of two living in the Kyankwanzi District of Uganda. She was forced to drop out of school because she was unable to pay the tuition and therefore struggled to make ends meet.
Then she was selected — among 250 rural women farmers — to learn resources and skills from Action for Rural Women’s Empowerment (ARUWE). The women were given access to loans to purchase land, crops or whatever else they may need to be successful farmers. They also received quality seed input, and equipment such as packing bags to transport crops to be sold. Odeta secured a loan and purchased two acres of land, as well as rice seeds and labour. She is hoping to harvest her rice this month and reinvest part of her profits back into farming in order to create a sustainable income for her and her children.
PWRDF has partnered with ARUWE to help bring sustainable livelihoods to women in the Kyankwanzi District, where 38% of people live below the poverty line and more than half do not have access to clean water. Agriculture is the main industry in Uganda, and in rural areas it accounts for 85% of the population’s income. ARUWE’s vision is “a world in which communities, especially women and their children are able to realize their full social, economic and civic potential.”
The project also created strong women farming groups which will eventually turn into village Savings and Loan associations. These groups learned basic financial management, credit management as well as other relevant financial skills. More importantly, these groups allowed the women to share funds, training and empower each other.
One group formed in the Kyankwanzi district is called Agali Awamu. The group is comprised of 27 members with six women forming the group’s leadership. Before the project, all the women were struggling on their own. The creation of the group, as well as the loans and training provided from ARUWE, have improved the lives of the members of Agali Awamu.
Since forming in January 2018 the group has accumulated 2,000,000 Ugandan Shillings ($686 Cdn) and all members have at least three acres of maize, beans and cassava. Every member has enough food for their households and increased incomes from selling produce. Kate Nakiwere was able to use her income to send her seven children to school and install solar panels in her home. The group supports each other in times of need and has improved relationships among members.
PWRDF is proud of its partnership with ARUWE and is excited about the progress that has been made in empowering women farmers in Uganda. They have shown just what can be accomplished when women are given the tools to succeed.