TOP
Tuesday,August 20,2019 05:25 AM
  • Home
  • Opinion
  • Transformed lives: How a letter changed the lives of Nawaikoke women

Transformed lives: How a letter changed the lives of Nawaikoke women

By Admin

Added 28th September 2018 02:08 PM

As a strategy, the women’s group chose to write a letter to the elected councillor for Nawaikoke Sub-county to bring to his attention their unhappiness with the manner in which seeds were distributed to beneficiaries under OWC programme.

Markoscordotile1 703x422

As a strategy, the women’s group chose to write a letter to the elected councillor for Nawaikoke Sub-county to bring to his attention their unhappiness with the manner in which seeds were distributed to beneficiaries under OWC programme.

OPINION

In earlier years, during my school days, we were taught that agriculture was the backbone of Uganda’s economy.
 
We were also taught that from the British colonial era up to the early 1980’s parents who afforded to take their children to good schools and lived a good life were farmers who belonged to cooperative societies.
 
Since 2017, ACODE has been engaged in Kaliro district, as one of the three districts in Busoga sub-region, where the scorecard initiative is being implemented; the two other districts include Jinja and Kamuli.
 
Early in the same year, when the ACODE team first arrived in Kaliro district to engage the district leaders; we were told that most men had neglected their role as head of households and had resorted to drinking, while the women worked hard to fend for the family and look after the children.
 
The research team from ACODE decided to visit two parishes from each of the six lower local governments in the district, including Nawaikoke Sub-county, to conduct civic education through the Citizen Engagement Meetings (CEMs).
 
On the morning of July 11, 2017, the ACODE research team embarked on a 26.9 kilometre journey from Kaliro town council to Nawaikoke Sub-county headquarter where we had been scheduled to have a civic engagement meeting with the community.
 
For a journey of approximately 43.8 kilometres, it took us about one hour to reach Nawaikoke parish which is also host to Nawaikoke Sub-county headquarters because of the bad state of the road network. Nawaikoke Sub-county comprises of 8 parishes and 113 villages; with the main economic activity being subsistence farming and fishing on a small scale.
 
Upon our arrival, we observed hundreds of people who had come to trade at the market which was hosted within the compound of the Sub-county headquarter.  Since Ivan Musasizi, our mobilizer, who was a resident in the area hadn’t informed us that it was a village market day; we did not expect the busy environment.
 
Getting out of our vehicle, we noticed some people looking at us curiously while some of them began to gather in groups under the nearby tree from where we had parked. Shortly after, we were joined by our mobilizer who we had informed about our arrival through a phone call.
 
“The people i had earlier mobilised are not in one place, but within the Sub-county. It is a market day,” Musasizi explained. He then ushered us to the Sub-county hall to wait as he remobilised the women and youth groups for the meeting.
 
After a while, 74people gathered for the meeting, 18 of whom were female and 54 were a mixture of youth and men.
 
The meeting began with the civic engagement meeting which later turned into a Citizen Engagement Planning meeting (CEAP).
 
During the CEAP meeting, the women’s group was deliberately separated from the men to enable them talk freely about issues that affected the women – just like other cultures in Uganda, the people of Nawaikoke are living in a patriarchal society, where women are looked down upon and fear to speak in a meeting where men are in attendance.
 
In some cases the women are not allowed to talk when the men are talking in the village meetings, they are supposed to just listen - that is if they are allowed into the meeting anyway. Each group was trained on how to raise issues affecting them and demand for better service delivery through strategies such as letter writing and petitions.
 
As a strategy, the women’s group chose to write a letter to the elected councillor for Nawaikoke Sub-county to bring to his attention their unhappiness with the manner in which seeds were distributed to beneficiaries under OWC programme.
 
Two months after the women’s group wrote their letter to their councillor requesting to be given maize and coffee seedlings; they received 13 Bags of Maize (Corn) seeds; which was equivalent to 130 kilograms; 6 Bags of Bean seeds; which is equivalent to 60 kilograms.
 
“I observed that the income of the women who received maize and beans seeds last year (2017) has greatly improved. Two of the women are now involved in petty trade to boost their income, while the other members of the group used their money to pay school fees for their children.
 
I also had a discussion with the leaders at the Sub-county and agreed that the same women’s group should be benefiting from the OWC program very year. In 2018, the same women’s group were again among the beneficiaries.
 
As a leader, i would like to thank ACODE for empowering the women of Nawaikoke and i recommend that such initiatives be rolled out to all the communities,” said Ivan Musasizi, the directly elected councillor, Nawaikoke Sub-county.
 
In the late 1980’s most cooperative societies collapsed, with the exception of a few such as the Bugisu Cooperative Union that survived.
 
Created in 2001 as one of the seven pillars of plan for modernisation of agriculture (PMA), the National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADs) whose core mandate was to undertake extension services, later became more involved in procurement of agricultural enterprises for farmers.
 
Then came the Operation Wealth Creation Program (OWC) launched in 2014 as an intervention coordinated by Officers of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), with funding under the NAADs secretariat. The operation of OWC is in line with NAADs’ mandate of providing agricultural inputs to farmers.
 
CEAPs are such a powerful initiative that can be used to empower vulnerable groups such as women, youth and persons with disability to demand for better service delivery from their leaders.
 
Positive response by leaders to citizen demands will likely trigger improved livelihoods of the people at the grassroots.
 
Mark Oscord Otile
 
The writer is a Research Assistant at ACODE.

Related Articles

More From The Author

Related articles