Day job Archive

Refugee girl graduates on top of her skills class, a co-instructor now. 

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 Viko working at the Carpentry and Joinery workshop in Rhino refugee settlement in Arua district

22-year old Viko Gloria graduated in January 2017 from the Skills Training Centre Skills Training Center of Welthunger Hilfe. She is now a co-instructor for the Carpentry and Joinery class at the center in Rhino Settlement in Arua District, Northern Uganda.

“My performance was good and that is why I was retained to teach. I am already earning a salary and I also plan to make furniture such as beds and roofing material for sale to earn extra income during my free time”. With this additional savings income, Gloria will be able to take care of her parents and educate her younger siblings.

Gloria was among the youth attaining livelihood and labor market relevant quality skills to create jobs and improve their standards of living. Gloria was the only girl in her class. Moreover, the class that she teaches currently has no female student neither, nevertheless with her recent promotion she plays a role model amongst fellow young girls.

She is one of the few nationals from the host community at the center. The Ugandan Government programme ‘RE-HOPE’ focuses on integrating both refugees and host communities in its programme ensuring co-existence.

The European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) through Belgian Development Agency (BTC) promotes skills development as part of the Support Programme for Refugees Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU). EUTF is supporting improved training programmes such the one Gloria graduated from. By working with national Ministry of Education and Sports BTC Uganda aims to ensure quality, standardization and certification of skills training for refugees and host communities.

Youth: bridge between the past and future

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Happy faces of youth – Symbol of partnership; European Union and Government of Uganda
The two young women featured in the picture below are refugees from South Sudan to Uganda. As they are branded apparel to symbolize European Union partnership with Government of Uganda; the also symbolise bridging the gap of the past and future. This picture  was taken in Mungula 1 settlement, Adjumani District during the official launch of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) Support Programme for Refugee Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda(SPRS-NU).
Culture has the power to transform entire societies,strengthen local communities and forge a sense of identity and belonging for people of all ages. As vector for youth  development and civic engagement, culture plays an essential role inpromoting sustainable social and economic development for future generations. Youth can act
as a bridge between cultures and serve as key agents in promoting peace and intercultural understanding.
Current situation
Youth comprise 18% of the world’s population.Representing a significant segment of the
community, young people:
  • Can contribute to local development and prosperity.
  • Can be a bridge between cultures and between tradition and modernity.
  • Have the interest, energy and passion to address issues and concerns, such as heritage management, sustainable tourism, local development and community involvement.
  • Have affinity for information and communication technologies to network and transcend geographical boundaries.
  • Are in the position to act as potent agents of positive social change that will yield greater economic and social well-being in the perspective of sustainable development for generations to come.
Investing in local cultural resources including tangible and intangible heritage including traditional knowledge and skills, as well as music, dance, theatre and festivals, can develop sustainable creative economies, open up opportunities to youth, and help strengthen identity and social cohesion. Promoting creativity for and among youth and harnessing young people’s creative potential and energy therefore needs to be a priority in finding creative solutions to today’s challenges.
Whilst implementing its programmes, the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) Support Programme for Refugee Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda(SPRS-NU) targets youth, women and girls highly due to the fact that they bridge the gap between the past and the future.

17-year-old mother of two dreams to become an accountant

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Keji attending classroom under the Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) ar Ariwa Primary School, Rhino refugee settlement, Arua District, Northern Uganda

“My name is Esther Keji Nelson. I am a 17-year old mother of two children. I came from South Sudan in 2016. After losing my parents in the war, I dropped out-of-school and got married at the age of 14”.

Esther walks to Ariwa Primary School, 7 kilometers from her home in Rhino refugee settlement in the Northern Uganda district of Arua. She leaves her 3-year-old and 9-months-old children under the care of an elderly friend in pursuit for a bright future. “I decided to enroll back in school because the man I got married to cannot take care of me. Therefore, I must find means of earning to take care of my children.”

Esther is one of the 56 girls out of the total of 74 pupils enrolled this year in level 3 of the Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) implemented by Save the Children. Save the Children aims to enable out-of-school children back to the education ladder through remedial education, as part of the Support Programme for Refugees Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU) funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF).

Esther’s dream is to become an accountant one day. Through this she hopes to earn income, build a house and take care of her children. She advises fellow young girls to enroll back in school because with education their future is bright.

 

 

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.

The Versatility of my Job

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Prilla Basemera and I in the Labaratory

Did you know Communications is one of the most evolving careers in the world, did you also know that it is one of the most versatile careers?
It offers result oriented jobs such as Public Relations, Communications Specialist, Public Affairs, Corporate Communications, Integrated Marketing Communications(IMC), Media Relations, Brand Management work, Corporate Affairs not to mention the most recent – Marketing Public Relations (MPR) and the list goes on…..
I passionately love my job due to the the versatility that comes with it -in office and field work. I get to execute my other love – film and photography;

In December 2015, I spent some days traversing Implementing Partners of aBi Trust where I currently work to document success stories and to carry out a photoshoot to capture intervention progress as part of evaluation. It was an amazing journey across South Western Uganda.

Today I share a few of the moments behind scenes;
Meet Prilla Basemera (in top picture) a Biochemist with RPN laboratories, Kyenjojo District in Uganda; responsible for the tissue culture innovation of coffee and Matooke in Uganda. I Spent time with Prilla while capturing shots of their work in partnership with aBi.
she unanimously made it to January 2016 page. #Photoshoot

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Mitooma village is found in Bushenyi District along the cattle corridor of western Uganda and while agriculture is the main activity in this area subsistence farmers face challenges of financial access. As part of aBi Trust’ interventions is to mitigate this challenge through creating Village Loan Savings Associations(VSLA). During my trip I met a team of women that is part of Nyakagongo VSLA. It was such a moment listening to their stories form zero to millions of savings hence changing their livelihoods. They too made it to the aBi calendar, month of March.

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It is always an inspiration meeting and listening to stories of change……. below are some others that i met and made it to the pages of my work calendar:-

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That above was in Kabwohe, Sheema District.

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And here is Nuwagira Geofrey of Abesigana Kashari Co-operative whose milk production increased due to aBi interventions.

My job enables me to spend time with stakeholders such as the above and through creating rapport with such people my external relations tactics are enhanced. The versatility in me is also enhanced through the creative pursuit of communications.

#Photography #aBi #Nofilter #Agriculture #ilovemyjob

aBi Trust Registers Success in Boosting Uganda’s Coffee Value Chain

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Mogens Pedsen, Ambassador of Royal Danish Embassy in Uganda Interacts with a Coffee farmer in Mitooma, Sheema District

Coffee production in Uganda is expected to increase this year following intervention by aBi Trust through its coffee Value Chain Development programme.
aBi’s Value Chain Development programmes are aimed at supporting the Private Sector by building a self sustaining Competitiveness and Investment Climate Strategy in Uganda.
Coffee is Uganda’s traditional cash crop grown in most parts of the country by small holder farmers and a few large scale farmers, associations or organizations. It is a high impact crop on the incomes of households and is steadily grown for a specialized market.
Teopista Nakkungu, the Coffee Development Officer at aBi Trust said that interventions by aBi will in the long run build a self sustaining export led economy for the benefit of all Ugandans.
aBi Trust supports coffee interventions due to the crop’s growing demand and potential as a foreign exchange earner due to the fact that it is among the top priority crops that Government is promoting among farmers as a cash crop, explained Nakkungu.
She added that in the financial year 2014/15, Uganda earned USD449 million from coffee, affirming the potential of the crop to the growth of the economy.

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Nankungu explained that aBi decided to intervene after realizing that the coffee sector was faced with challenges ranging from low quality coffee, lack of market, limited access to improved seeds and agro inputs, low consumption of coffee locally among others.
The interventions in the coffee value chain, according to Nakkungu are financed to improve the performance of the crop focusing on production and productivity, quality enhancement, value addition, market development and access, improving the accessibility of agro inputs and plant materials to farmers in addition to promoting coffee consumption culture in Uganda.
This is done through creating projects and capacity building through training, provision of quality and the necessary tools needed in coffee farming with an aim of increasing coffee yields.
As a result, a total of 40 projects have been implemented, over 70,000 farmer household have been reached, over 10 business plans from SMEs are being supported, Centers of Excellence (CoE) established and Coffee Wilt Disease Resistant(CWDr) clean planting material is being produced using the Tissue culture laboratory among other achievements.
Besides the above,3,000 demonstrations cites have been established with experts to support the farmers in learning best practices needed in coffee production right from the nursery to the point of sale, added Nakkungu.

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Statistics from aBi Trust indicate that the coffee sector employs a total of 1.2 million farmers and this has reduced house hold poverty among those families. Gender issues are improving while farmers are incorporating climate-smart agricultural tactics through Green Growth initiatives introduced to them.
When it comes to yields by tree, there is a general increases in average yield the two types of coffee; for Arabica coffee, farmers now harvest at least 0.5 kilograms of the red cherries per tree, and for Robusta coffee, a farmer is capable of harvesting at least 1.5 to 8 kilograms per tree of red cherries.
Average acreage of participating farmers has also increased from 0.5 to at least 2 acres. Average outcome has also improved from 45% to 58 % (Kiboko to FAQ) and exportable grades have improved from 78% to at least 85%, of which the target for Robusta coffee is 95 %.
aBi has further supported the provision of clean planting materials, over 40 coffee nurseries have been supported and licensed to produce and sell clean planting materials, established mother gardens and one tissue culture laboratory with the capacity of 2 million seedlings per anum.
Farmers have also been trained over the years on how to handle coffee to ensure quality. In addition 12 central washing stations have established, plus 6 motorized pulper to help in wet coffee processing, supported secondary grading facilities, and 3 primary processing facilities among others.
Nakkungu however adds that despite the progress made in coffee sector so far, there is still a challenge of low uptake of production and quality enhancement technologies, price volatility, which makes marketing hard, adverse effects of climate change, low skills uptake among farmers, unstable exchange rate which leads to high cost of farm inputs among others.
The other challenge is inadequate extension staff to promote Good Agricultural Practices(GAP) and address quality issues, coupled with pests and diseases like the twig borer and coffee wilt disease to mention but a few.

aBi was founded by Governments of Denmark and Uganda and is funded by DANIDA, SIDA, USAID, UKaID, EU and Kfw

aBi TRUST REVAMPING UGANDA’S COFFEE CROP: RAYS OF HOPE FROM WESTERN UGANDA

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Mother Garden for Coffee tissue culture at Royal Plants and Nurseries.

When he dropped out of school about two decades ago, Wilson Kabebe resorted to coffee growing on a one-and-half acre piece of land located in Muwelo village, Isule parish, Maliba sub-county in Kasese district.
Kabebe, who dropped out at the end of his O-level due to lack of school fees, then reaped about 70 kilogrammes of the cash crop every season lasting about six months. From his produce, Kabebe would smile his way home with about Shs 3,000 for each killogramme as extended by the middleman.
Sometimes, the middlemen would book the 39-year-old’s plantation as soon as it flowered.
“I realized that the prices offered were less than those earned by farmers in organized groups,” he reminisces with a tinge of regret.
COOPERATIVES KICKING OUT MIDDLEMEN?
Realising that middlemen were exploiting them, Kabebe and his fellow coffee farmers organized themselves into a cooperative society: Isule Cooperative society which comprises 778 farmers – 132 females and 646 males.

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Women sorting coffee beans at Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union, Kabwohe, Sheema District, Western Uganda

The cooperative initiative has paid off: Kabebe now earns more money per kilo compared to what he was bagging before joining the cooperative. While he was previously paid about Shs 3,000 per kilo, the prices now range between Shs 5,000 to 8,500 per kilo, thanks to better bargaining power that comes with selling as a cooperative.
Besides the exploitation, the middlemen are partly responsible for the poor quality of coffee according to John Nuwagaba, the general manager of Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union (ACPCU) Limited located in Kabwohe, a trading centre located about 350km outside the capital Kampala.
“The middlemen buy the coffee while still in the plantations and pick it before it ripens,” he says. “They also add extraneous materials such as stones, poor grade coffee and dust.”
The middlemen have no doubt been taking advantage of the collapse of cooperatives. When ACPCU started registering success, the cooperative began encouraging others such as the Banyankore-Kweterana to revive their operations and save the farmer from exploitation by middlemen.
But Nuwagaba admits that the revival of cooperatives will require government intervention, especially regarding the recapitalization of the unions since “most of them lost their working capital”.
Previously a backbone of the Ugandan economy, cooperatives collapsed in the 1970s with ascent to power of President Idi Amin Dada who chased away Asians, forcing expatriates and capable leaders and managers of these unions scampering into exile.
Nuwagaba also requests government to stop interfering in the operations of the farmer organizations except where the intervention is to demand accountability and check corruption.
“There is also need to train leaders of these unions in leadership and management skills,” he adds.
Nuwagaba’s assertion is grounded in the fact that the final nail that drove in the coffin of cooperatives unions was the political interests of those that managed the farmers’ organizations.
Since their collapse, it seems governments have been suspicious of the unions – perhaps because of their history of protest against the Asians’ and Europeans’ dominance of the economy in colonial Uganda and their mobilization of power – and are therefore reluctant to breathe life into them. The ongoing revival is being engineered by coffee farmers countrywide with support from aBi Trust a multilateral donor entity founded by the Governments of Denmark and Uganda.

FARMER FIELD SCHOOLS
Even when they have greater bargaining power for their produce, coffee farmers need to produce more quality coffee – and perhaps the Farmer Field Schools in Kasese supported by aBi Trust a good example of training farmers on how to achieve this.
When we visit the group Kabebe belongs to, a session is underway in Kabebe’s plantation.

1 Wilson Kabebe sharing Knowledge with fellow coffee farmers during a farmer field school
Kabebe participates in a farmer firld school in Isule, Kasese District, Western Uganda.

The training has been made possible with help from aBi Trust, a development partner that funds private sector agribusiness through Implementing Partners such as Hanns R Neumann Stiftung. Support from aBi Trust also extends to cereals, horticulture, dairy, pulses, oilseeds and coffee.
Sevelino Bwambale, the facilitator, is leading members on the lesson about the prevention of coffee pests and diseases. Team members are allowed to contribute knowledge and ask questions on the day’s topic.
Kabebe, one of the best farmers in his farm group is attending this session and has learnt better agronomic lessons – such as planting, harvesting and post-harvest handling – from the previous training sessions.
“Unlike my neighbours,” Kabebe says pointing at the next plantation whose coffee plants are visibly competing with the weeds for nutrients. “I now take weeding seriously, I have dug contours to prevent soil erosion and I prune my coffee plants.”
Consequently, the father of four has put Bwambale’s lessons into practice, translating into higher yields. To improve his farm, Kabebe borrowed Shs 6m from Centenary Bank to revamp his plantation. He would later payback the loan but the subsequent harvests were worth the effort.
“I now harvest almost three times the amount I used to reap before I joined Farmer field schools,” he reveals with a grin.
CHALLENGES OF FARMER FIELD SCHOOL (FFS)
Despite the successes such as those highlighted by Kabebe, the field school has faced some setbacks.
According to facilitator Bwambale, who also grows coffee on the three acres of land he owns in the same area as Kabebe, the attendance of some of the FFS sessions is normally low on Tuesdays because this day coincides with the area’s market days. In fact on the day of our visit, eight of 15 members of this group are absent, most of them males.
“People also expect us [the facilitators] to give them hoes, machines and tarpaulins. For us we give them ideas – not money,” the 41-year old facilitator adds.
REPLACING OLD COFFEE PLANTS
Coffee production in Uganda has suffered a setback for over two decades now and consequently shrunk the country’s earnings from this major export.
The decline of this major cash crop in Uganda the largest producers of coffee – only second to Ethiopia and the ninth the world – has been attributed, among other factors, to the aging of the coffee plants.
With most of the coffee planted about five decades ago – yet the plant is only economically viable for 40 calendar years. Even with the new plants, pests and diseases have been affecting both the quantity and quality of yields.

PIC 7 Prilla Basemera a bio technician at Royal Plants and Nurseries examines a coffee tissue culture process in the laboratory

Prilla Basemera a bio technician at Royal Plants and Nurseries examines a coffee tissue culture process in the laboratory, Kyenjojo District.

According to Chris Kaijuka, the Managing Director of Royal Plants and Nurseries in Kyenjojo district, Uganda needs about 300 million plants to revitalize the sector.
Using funds extended by aBi Trust, an entity that funds private sector agribusiness, Royal Plants and Nurseries has supplied over 59,320 Coffee Wilt Disease resistant (CWDr) planting materials developed at their Kyenjojo tissue culture laboratory in a space of nine months.
aBi Trust fund has helped in the production of plantlets for Robusta coffee, grown in lowlands by over 70 per cent of the country’s coffee farmers. Arabica coffee, the other variety that grows in highlands is resistant to the coffee wilt disease that has decimated plantations.
The support from aBi, worth about Shs 2.6bn, helped in the purchase of laboratory equipment, upgrading of the laboratory and expansion of nurseries.
The scientists are using a pest-resistant variety developed by the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) that has difficulty in multiplication.
Farmers all over the country have accessed these coffee planting materials through the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), a government agency established 25 years ago, to improve coffee quality and market the cash crop.
“UCDA gives these [plantlets] to farmers at a subsidized price; it’s almost free,” says Naboth Edongat, the Royal Plants’ laboratory manager. “Farmers are then helped to establish mother gardens to get more plantlets.

NOT GMOS
Edongat also defends the plantlets, clarifying that they are not Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). In Uganda, the debate on Genetically Modified Organisms is a controversial one and most farmers are likely to shun seedlings associated with genetic alteration.

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Naboth Edongat, the Royal Plants’ laboratory manager.

“Tissue culture does not change the genes; it only helps in the multiplication [of the coffee plants]. We do not do genetic engineering,” he explains.
Royal Plants and Nurseries Ltd, located about 250km outside the capital Kampala, has taken up the challenge to give Uganda’s coffee sector a lease of fresh air.
Through plant tissue culture, a biotechnology through which plant cells are developed into new plants, the company is now producing planting materials that are disease and pest-resistant.
On the whole, although it is clear that with aBi’s support the revival of the coffee sector will sustain the hope it is steadily giving to the farmers, it is clear that revamping of the cash crop depends on the restoration of cooperative unions; training of farmers in good agricultural practices; and replacing old plants that are no longer productive.