By Vision Reporter
Beth Clark, a renowned Texas author, once said: “People who really want to make a difference in the world are not determined to revolutionise the world all at once; they are satisfied with small changes. Over time, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations and yes, the world
” That was the mood at the Vision Group head office in Kampala recently when three judges announced the winners of the Ugandans Making a Difference project that had been running in New Vision. Ugandans Making a Difference is an annual project initiated by Vision Group to recognise and reward people who contributed to positive change in the communities in which they live.
Each year, the project focuses on a different theme and this year’s theme was about addressing the challenge of malnutrition in the country. Over 100 nominations were received in the project that run from August 5 to October 3, 2013. Altogether, 38 nutrition-related stories and/or profiles were published in New Vision.
It is from these that the winners were selected by a panel of independent judges with expertise in nutrition issues, population and community work. The judges were Peterson Kikomeko, the general secretary for Uganda Action for Nutrition; Dr. Robert Mwadime, the Chief of Party of USAID’s Community Connector project and Eunice Musiime, the team leader for Policy and Advocacy at the Uganda National NGO Forum.
They commended the winners and Vision Group for the commitment to addressing this silent tragedy. According to the Cost of Hunger report, Uganda loses sh1.8b as a result of child under-nutrition. Unfortunately, there is no legal framework to support the implementation of nutrition programmes.
It is for this reason that this year Vision Group focused on nutrition, to highlight the scale of the challenge, inform communities and community organisations and policy makers and attract practical ways of tackling the problem. The project, supported by the Southern Africa Trust, was carried out in collaboration with the Uganda National NGO Forum.
Mode of selection
Each of the judges independently scored all the candidates on the set criteria after which the scores were tallied. The areas scored included the nominee’s magnitude of contribution and the community impact, ability to produce results, the process, food preservation methods, use of local food resources to fight malnutrition and the ability to disseminate knowledge and skills to vulnerable mothers and children.
Other issues considered were; how affordable, acceptable to the communities and sustainable the projects were on top of their social entrepreneurship. Catherine Ruhweza, commonly known as Mama Tendo, emerged the overall winner. Ruhweza was recognised for addressing nutrition among elite mothers, a group often ignored because they are deemed to know what to do, yet many of them lack the necessary information on nutrition.
“She is a selfless hardworking woman, who has silently been at the forefront in the war against malnutrition,” Mwadime said. However, because of Ruhweza’s association with New Vision through her weekly parenting column, the editorial committee decided to recognise her without a cash award. This is meant to avoid ethical issues that arise out of conflict of interest.
The decision leaves the first cash prize to the first runner-up winner, Opio Kizito. Kizito, a student of agricultural science and entrepreneurship at Uganda Christian University, Mukono, organises practical classes at the university, where he teaches fellow students and other people in the community about nutrition. “He has demonstrated that disability is not inability by helping a number of people address nutrition challenges, instead of burying himself in self-pity,” explained Kikomeko. For this, Kizito takes a cash prize of sh5m.
He was followed by Elizabeth Masaba, a public health nurse and nutrition counsellor at Kawempe Health Centre IV. She was recognised for her support for malnourished children. She gives them first aid and teaches mothers how to overcome malnutrition using locally-available resources.
Masaba wins a cash prize of sh2m. John Ojacor, 45, an agronomist and nutritionist from Ongino sub-county, Kumi district, came after Masaba. After realising that many children in his sub-county were malnourished because of lack of information on the part of parents, Ojacor set out to give parents, especially mothers practical lessons on food nutrients, methods of food preparation and child feeding.
He used locally-available foods such as soya. Ojacor’s method of work – ascertaining the needs and designing his training on the basis of these needs has seen the number of malnourished children in Kumi drop remarkably. He gets a cash prize of sh1m. According to New Vision Features editor John Eremu, the date and venue of the awards ceremony will be communicated later.
The panel of judges
Kikomeko is an assistant lecturer at the Department of Human Nutrition and Home Economics, Kyambogo University. He is also the general secretary for Uganda Action for Nutrition, a professional body that links nutrition professionals to policy makers and the public sector. He also chairs the Uganda Civil Society Coalition on scaling up nutrition
Left to right: Mwadime, Kikomeko and Musiime during the selection process at Vision Group. Photo by Richard Sanya
DR. RO BERT MWADIME
Mwadime is the Chief of Party of the United States Agency for International Development’s Community Connector project, a Feed the Future nutrition and agriculture integrated project in Uganda. He worked as the senior regional nutrition advisor with FANTA-II and the Academy for Education Development, before joining FHI 360.
His work has majorly been in strengthening the performance of programmes in food security and nutrition, including programme planning and developing project designs that allow community participation and empowerment in East and Southern Africa. He holds a PhD in Development Economics and Nutrition.
Musiime is the team leader for Policy and Advocacy at the Uganda National NGO Forum, a collaborating partner on the project
- Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns
- Organised Useful Rehabilitation Services
- Kabarole Research and Resource Centre
- Alpha Health Nutrition- Uganda
- St. Kizito Hospital
- Matany Referral Hospital’s Therapeutic Feeding Centre
- Hunger Fighters Uganda
- East Africa Maternal Newborn and Child Health
- Bwindi Community Hospital
- Kissito Healthcare International
- Life Industries
- Children In Africa Breastfeeding Support Group
- Papoli Community Development Foundation