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Agriculture improves lives of women in Kapchorwa

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th June 2013 11:53 AM

Women in Kapchorwa are sparing not an atom of energy to embark on the land to salvage their families from recurring threats of food insecurity as a result of climate change, endemic poverty, corruption among local leaders and poor health.

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By Titus Kakembo 
 
Women in Kapchorwa are sparing not an atom of energy to embark on the land to salvage their families from recurring threats of food insecurity as a result of climate change, endemic poverty, corruption among local leaders and poor health.        
                                                                        
“They manually open up land, plant and harvest,” reveals an Actionaid Project Officer Patrick Kitiyo. “Unfortunately it is the men who sell the harvest and budget for the cash got. Very many opt to get polygamous or visit pubs for Komek beer.”  “Among us (Sebei) the male are dominant. The land is owned by male brothers, sons and husbands,” Kitiyo added                                        
A tour of Kapchorwa district, located high up on the slopes of Mount Elgon ranges in Eastern Uganda was a revelation of different cultures, altitudes and panoramic ranges.  
 
For long, it has suffered the effects of climate change and cattle rustling perpetuated by the ancestral conflict between the Karimojong in northeastern Uganda and their Pokot pastoral counterparts based in Western Kenya. The worst hit were the women and their children.      
                              
The Kapchorwa NAADS coordinator Francis Alinyo echoes similar sentiments.   “Many a farmer here are still trapped in a vicious circle of poverty because of loan sharks. They are fleeced by loan sharks charging interest rates as high as 20-60 percent,” says Alinyo. 
 
“There is need to put in place a bank which will address the plight of farmers. Farmers need funds to buy planting seeds and other required farm inputs.”
 
Adding that, farmers need better post-harvest handling of their crop or risk it decaying.                                                                                                     
 “Storage of a bumper harvest is difficult because drying depends on sun shine. There are no preservation systems for bananas, tomatoes, vegetables and fruits,” summed Alinyo.      
 
   
 Folks in Kapchorwa excited over an irrigation method which will enable continuous harvest regardless
                                                                  of rain patterns. Photo by Titus Kakembo                                                                                            
 
While braving all the obstacles, came an irrigation scheme, funded and facilitated by Actionaid Uganda. Woria Reflect Group Scheme has membership of 300 women, from different parishes.    
                              
“My life has never been the same since I joined the Woria Reflect Group Scheme,” confesses one of pioneer members, Harriet Cherotwo 40, from Chesum village. “I am a mother of eight children who previously, as a housewife, depended on my husband for everything.”      
 
But since she joined Woria, Cherotwo’s perception of life changed. Today she is the vice chairperson of the group.
 “I have managed to fend for the family. I embarked on agriculture with a vengeance. Today I rear goats, ducks and chicken,” says Cherotwo. “The live stock is in addition to maize, coffee and bananas harvested.”      
    
“Given a balanced diet and hygiene, my visits to the doctor for treatment have reduced.”
Besides farming skills, the group has been equipped with income generating skills, book keeping and entrepreneurial skills.              
                                                      
“We can now monitor the local government expenses and hold our local leaders accountable,” says Cherotwo. “I have learned to exercise my democratic rights as we meet fortnightly.
 
This has elevated a woman’s status to a partner, in a family unit, not a commodity as it were. But the challenge is how to make runaway husbands responsible for the family left behind.” 
 
Currently we are fighting cultural practices like, women not being able to own land or inherit property. The practice is if she bought land it would be in the names of a son or her brother!”    
    
The Woria project officer Patrick Kityo says the group currently needs access to family planning, prevention of HIV/AIDS transmission and the ability to own and inherit property.          
                                 
“The Woria Irrigation scheme has reduced the dependence on weather patterns for agricultural harvest,” says Kityo. “This means more incomes throughout the year. During the dry spells they just turn on the taps.”
 

 

Agriculture improves lives of women in Kapchorwa

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