European Union Emergency Trust Fund Launches the Support Programme for Refugee Settlements to improve food security and livelihoods

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Refugee Women sorting vegetables
Women from the Mungula 1 refugee settlement and host community sort vegetables together in preparation of a meal to be served on the launch day.

In a celebratory mood, small crowds of women, men and youth walk towards Mungula primary school in Mungula 1 Refugee Settlement, one of the already established camps in Adjumani district built to accommodate over 30,000 refugees in northern Uganda, just across the border from South Sudan. Clearly, their positive attitude is facilitated by their integration facilitated with the peaceful co-existence with the 

Refugee youth perform at the launch event 

The occasion to which the crowd proceeds, is the launch of the Support Programme for Refugee Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU) funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) and aimed at supporting aspects of stability contribute to better migration management as well as addressing the root causes of destabilization, forced displacement and irregular migration in the Horn of Africa.

The SPRS-NU inauguration happens at a time of the rapidly expanding refugee influx in neighboring Uganda as a result of growing turmoil in South Sudan. The current civil war in South Sudan began in December 2013. Although it was triggered by disagreements within the government, its roots are historical and relate to the failure to create inclusive modes of governance in the newly independent country.

According to the UNHCR statistics (30th January 2017), of the 692,613 South Sudan refugees in Uganda, 64% are children below the age of 18 while 86% of this population are women and children whose critical needs must be addressed as a human right.

The critical needs of these refugees after settlement include enhanced livelihoods, provision of safe water and environmental sanitation conditions, skills for labor market relevance, conflict management and accelerated learning among others that are funded in this project by the EUTF to promote resilience, economic and equal opportunities, security and development and addressing human rights’ abuses.

In the presence of over 2,000 refugees and host communities, Hon. Hilary Onek and the European Union (EU) Head of Cooperation in Uganda, Michelle Labeeu, inaugurated the 10 million Euros SPRS-NU project with planting of trees at Mungula 1 refugee settlement in Itirikwa sub-county.

In her address during the launch of the programme, Ms. Michelle Labeeu commended Uganda’s exemplary hospitality and progressive refugee policies and added that “Uganda is not alone. Uganda can keep counting on the European Union’s support for handling such a challenging endeavor”. In furtherance, Ms Labeeu announced the decision of the European Union to add further 10 million Euros to the programme allowing to expand interventions to other effected districts.

 SPRS-NU is a 3-year programme implemented through three components: (i) Water and sanitation (WASH) component, managed by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA); (ii) Skills development & entrepreneurship training, managed by the Belgian Techincal Cooperation (BTC) Agency; and (iii) the Livelihoods, Conflict Management, Educational and Knowledge components, managed by a NGO Consortium, led by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) consisting of the Save the Children, ZOA & CEFORD.
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Ambassador Hugo Verbist and Belgian Artist Daan Stuyven plant a tree at Mungula refugee settlement

On this occasion, Minister Onek and the Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Uganda, Ms. Michelle Labeeu, planted trees in commemoration of the inauguration of the SPRS-NU. The Ambassador of Belgium Mr. Hugo Verbist, and the Head of Austrian Development Agency Mr. Günter Engelits, also planted trees alongside refugees and host community members to signify a dignified co-existence of refugees and host communities in the refugee districts of northern Uganda including Adjumani, Arua and Kiryandongo.

Officiating as Guest of Honor, Minister Onek noted that Uganda has on its soil almost 1 million refugees and more than 85 per cent of the refugees currently arriving in Uganda are women and children under the age of 18 who lack access to proper shelter, food and health facilities, among other basic necessities

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The hues of cultural diversity

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The hues of culture exhibit diversity of all time. I met these refugee women from the mirye tribe of south Sudan while they were performing at the launch of European Union Emergency Trust Fund programme in Mungula refugee settlement, Adjumani district in West Mile -Uganda.

The gap of language barier was bridged simply by joining them to dance to the dinka rythms- Cultural diversity. 

Belgian Development Agency (BTC) in partnership with Ministry of Education commission NTC MUNI

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H.E Hugo Verbist, the Belgian Ambassador to Uganda and Alex Kakooza the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Education officially commission the administration block as part of phase one of construction and rehabilitation work at NTC Muni. Looking on are Ministry officials and Arua District Leaders.

Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) in partnership with Belgian Development Agency (BTC) officially commissioned the first phase of rehabilitated and constructed facilities at NTC Muni worth 9.2 billion under the Teacher Training Education (TTE) project.

To officially commission this project was the Ambassador of Belgium, His Excellency Hugo Verbist and the, the Minister of State for Higher Education, represented by the Permanent Secretary of Ministry Education, Alex Kakooza at a colorful event that took place at the National Teachers College, Muni, Arua district.

The TTE project is jointly implemented by the Ministry of Education of Sports (MoES) – Teacher Instructor Education and Training (TIET) Department and the Belgian Development Agency (BTC) to provide an improved student-centered and practice-oriented learning environment in 4 teacher training institutions (NTC Muni; NTC Kaliro; National Instructors College Abilonino; Health Tutors College Mulago).

In his remarks at the commissioning, the Ambassador noted “the emphasis on infrastructure and creating a stimulating work environment is certainly no coincidence. Some would say that the Belgians like to build and are therefore ‘born with a brick in our stomach’. However, this is not why we are supporting the rehabilitation of these facilities. Together with our focus on training and management, this is a wider approach”.

The results of the five-year commissioned TTE project that started in 2012 include; strengthening support supervision by central level (TIET department; Kyambogo University), strengthening the college management, strengthening pedagogy to improve the quality of teaching and learning, and rehabilitation, extension and equipment of the college facilities.                    

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Sports, Alex Kakooza, said that rehabilitation of National Teacher’s Colleges is one way through which the Government of Uganda is improving education standards. He further commended BTC and the Belgian Government for the great work done and the partnership.

In terms of infrastructure, NTC Muni has been equipped with lecture rooms, offices, multipurpose hall, a user-friendly library as well as ICT facilities, laboratory equipment and easily movable furniture for active teaching and learning. The college design also incorporated construction of climate-smart approaches that factored in renewable energy and sustainable architecture with elements of solar energy & biogas and water harvesting for the college sustainability.

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H.E the Ambassador of Belgium to Uganda Hugo Verbist plant trees in the college compound of NTC Muni to signify protection of the environment

In terms of pedagogy, all the academic staff (52 lecturers) of the college underwent training in student-centred Active Teaching and Learning (ATL) methodology. This was supplemented with distribution of ATL Manuals to all teaching staff and to the college Library for students’ access.

In the past three years, frequent support supervision visits facilitated by the project were conducted by national experts from Kyambogo University and from MoES/TIET department to provide pedagogic support to the college Lecturers, Mentor Teachers, Librarians and Heads of Departments.

To enhance the college management, the globally certified “Franklin Covey 7-Habits of Highly Effective People” training was delivered to management staff and execution grants were disbursed for the college to implement priority activities of their strategic plan. Management and support staff also received a series of training in assets and maintenance management as well as on Behavioral Change.

It is with the above pedagogic, management and infrastructure support that the Ministry of Education in partnership with BTC is commissioning this project and launching the second phase of construction and institutional development works in NTC Muni.

This is my creed

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To Sail Beyond the Sunset…
To Strive,
To Seek,
To Find,
and Not To Yield,
There is no glass ceiling,
Just rise.

Photography, my other love.

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Inquisitive! Sharing a sneak peak with two young friends I met after taking their picture.

Photography involves capturing images with a camera. These images can be of just about anything, including people, places, animals, objects, or events.

Professional photography is part of my hobbies whilst it comes as an added advantage to my career and involves much more than just taking pictures, though. Professional photographs are often able to elicit certain feelings and tell a story. Simply looking at professional photographs can bring on feelings of happiness, dismay, fear, awe, nostalgia, or even hunger, yes hunger :).

I love Still life photography, which involves taking pictures of static, or still, objects. This can include such things as people in action especially in rural Uganda but mostly as part of my career, Photojournalism supersedes simply because it generally involves shooting pictures of newsworthy events or what is commonly described as pictures of “a thousand words”. Just a sneak peak of my picks for the day……

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Jepa, caries her baby sibling near their home in Nanda sub-county, Kiryandongo District. .

Through my film & photography experience I have come to learn that as an expert photographer am able to make people or situations appear different than they really are. This can be done by utilizing different lighting techniques, or positioning people or objects a certain way. With today’s advanced image editing software, many photographers also change some elements of their photographs in order to make them look a particular way – as commonly known as Photoshop.

For instance, I purposed to take this picture with its shadows in the face. It is unedited (No filter) and I love it!

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A coffee farmer in Mitooma, Bushenyi District, Uganda.

Sometimes it is about more than the camera — LEANNE COLE

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For those of you who have been following me for some time know that I love editing photos. I’ve never been… The post Sometimes it is about more than the camera appeared first on LEANNE COLE.

 

Community banking launched in Pader, Northern Uganda.

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Bernadette Achiro (center) and group members with their solar equipment they acquired through a loan from Pride Micro finance supported by aBi Trust.

Bernadette Achiro is the chairperson of a womens’group in Pader district that is borrowing money from Pride Microfinance. They formed the group in 2014 and have been borrowing school fees and business loans.

“I have powered my kiosk with solar and there I charge mobile phones for people at a fee. My colleagues are selling food items in the market, I started my business through borrowing capital with fellow group members from Pride Microfinance” explained Achiro.

Before joining the village group, they had limited access to credit for capital to start their businesses. The process of borrowing money from existing banks was too long.

“One has to fill in the form which is verified from the bank branch in Agago,5 kilometers away from Pader and then its brought back  after a week, when you are lucky and it is approved then you get the money,’ she explained.

“Apart from that, the security demanded was too high which most women don’t have like land, with land titles, cattle, motorcycles and sometimes houses, with Pride Microfinance members of my group can either borrow money for solar panels and chargers or agribusiness” Achiro further explained.

As a result women could only access school fees loans but cannot go for agribusiness loans due to lack of collateral inform of land. She also added that agriculture doesn’t yield immediate results like business.

Achiro revealed this at the opening of Pride Microfinance Branch in Pader district, supported by aBi Trust. The new branch will promote integrated community banking financed by aBi up to a tune of over 600 million shillings.

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Officials from Bank of Uganda, Pader District, aBi Trust and Pride Microfinance cut a ribbon to signify the launch of Pride Microfinance (MDI) Pader, Northern Uganda.

The service will be extended to women groups starting from 500,000 Uganda Shillings and under this banking model, there is no need for collateral because group members guarantee each other, explained Edward Nkanji, the Executive Director Pride Microfinance.

Why women in Pader do not own land.

According to Achiro, when people returned from the internally displaced people’s camps after the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Kony war, they grabbed all pieces of land within town which have been used for construction therefore there is not enough land for them to use as surety.

“In my culture women don’t won land and yet most banks want to see the land on which you are growing the crops before they can give the money but we plan  to acquire land as a group for agriculture to sustain our livelihoods,” added Achiro.

Achiro’s testimony is proof that whereas 70% of agricultural work and food production is carried out by women in rural areas of Uganda, many still find it hard to access agricultural financing due to lack of land.

Godfrey Okidi, the Financial Services Officer at aBi adds that opportunities are limited for women farmers to participate in  agribusiness training and receive extension services and also participate in the decision making process in their house holds affairs.

“It’s neither easy for them to obtain women friendly agricultural inputs nor get the necessary loans for agricultural activities due to underlying challenges such as lack of land ownership among others, as aBi we have partnered with Pride to mitigate these constraints’ said Okidi.

Other challenges include low branch network presence especially in remote areas where the majority of the targeted unbaked population resides is a mojor hinderance.

According to Okidi, aBi has been partnering with Pride Microfinance since 2011 to promote integrated community banking and clean energy technologies in remote areas of the country.

“aBi’s interest is to bring financial services closer by promoting institutions such as these to develop products that suit the agriculture portfolio and cross cutting issues of gender, human rights and climate change mitigation measures,” said Okidi.

At the same event, director commercial banking at Bank of Uganda, Benedict Sekabira said that the new branch in Pader supplements central banks call for expansion of financial services to create access for the unbanked rural population in Uganda.

With a smile on her face, Achiro said “having taken a loan from Pride Microfinance, am now able to pay school fees, medical bills and food for my family, I plan on saving my profits so I can buy land in the near future”.

Ends