In May 2013, World Renew conducted a three-year partner evaluation with the Nebbi Diocese in north-western Uganda. Like most evaluations, the key question was, “What has changed?” The answer the evaluation team received was awe-inspiring.
It was evident that the participants had become “their brother’s-keeper” all through the community. It was even more evident that World Renew’s strategy of empowering communities with skills in self-reliance approaches has better results than providing hand-outs.
In small self-help groups, community members in the Nebbi Diocese have agreed to hold each other accountable for their way of life and support each other in times of need. By saving regularly together for the past two years, they have saved two million Uganda shillings (US$386). And their collaboration has not stopped at the personal and household level, but stretches into the church where they gather for fellowship.
For example, the groups mobilized themselves to contribute metal roofing to complete the church building. Even the non-congregational members who attend the groups, such as Catholics and Muslims, contributed to the church project. The Pastor of the church also mentioned that the Sunday offering has increased as well, and he attributes it to the hard work the group members are doing to improve their livelihoods. They understand that it is God who has provided them with the gift of life and opportunity to work together.
So, what has changed?
There is a strong sense of solidarity among the group members when the need to offer support arises: “We dig together in the gardens, and this enables each of us to plant our gardens on time. We also share our knowledge and skills while we are at work in the gardens.”
The pastor of the local church says,“The groups organized planting a 4-acre garden with cassava for me. Now my family will have enough food this season. Because I am a pastor, our family has many visitors to our household. Now I have some confidence that I can feed whoever comes to my home.”
There increased harmony among those who were in conflict before they joined the group: “False accusations and misunderstandings are long-gone stories in the groups. We are busy and have less time to spend on non-issues.”
There is also evidence of improved livelihoods and an appreciation of the self-help approach: “Our children are now going to school because we have access to financial resources from our group’s savings. Whenever the children have any need for school supplies, we have the ability to provide for them.”
“Now we have enough food at household level. Let me take you to my 3-acre cassava garden. The availability of food has improved our ability to feed our families.”
“We have fewer occurrences of preventable diseases at the household level now. We have also improved our personal hygiene, and our homesteads are clean and well-organized”
In particular trainings, the use of herbal medicine—especially Artemisia plant used in treatment of malaria and many other diseases—was greatly appreciated.
The hard work of the adults in the community has inspired the youth to start a project of their own, digging a fishpond for fish-rearing as one of their income-generating activities.
But they are not done yet: The community still faces challenges that they will need to overcome. The group members hope to improve the cultivation and growth of Artemisia in their area. Right now it is not growing well in the sandy soil and hot climate on the Nile riverbank.
They also hope to address the high illiteracy rates in the area, especially among women, who are disproportionately undereducated. They believe that with improved literacy they will be in better position to manage and grow their small savings groups better.
We praise God for all that is being accomplished.
Praises: We praise God for…
Keeping us safe during our travels.
His favor upon us in all that we do.
Prayers: Please pray that…
The work that has been started will continue to yield results for improvement of people’s livelihood.
Staff at the project level will come to see their work as a ministry to the poor.
There will be more peace in Uganda.
Grace & Peace,
World Renew Uganda