WOMEN’S DESK/ GENDER & DEVELOPMENT OFFICE

WOMEN’S DESK/ GENDER & DEVELOPMENT OFFICE

 
Back ground information
 
 Economic context: Women hardly own any productive resources such as land, houses and capital yet, 70% of agricultural labor is provided by women themselves while only 1% of the land owners are women. Many of the women are in the low yielding informal sector like market vending, food processing management of small eating rooms, food and produce marketing at a micro level. Where as men are at 65% literate, women constitute 54% of all illiterates. They are only a few women flock who have obtained high education compared to the population of women in Uganda. The educated women mainly reside in the urban areas and hardly know the problems of the uneducated women in the rural areas..
 
Economic choices are often made in favor of the male child rather than the girl child. Women have limited access to economic resources, e.g. credit facilities, due to cultural constraints, and low self confidence. Women cannot raise required collateral; in the first place, as they do not own assets, even the few assets given to them as gifts at marriage eventually turn to men as heads of families. On top of that, they are some men who do not agree with the idea of lending for profit and as such do not support or contribute to women’s economic empowerment.
 
Women still depend on their male counterparts, especially the 80% who live in rural areas. Of late there is a lot of talk about modernization of agriculture in Uganda. Modernizing agriculture to the level of the developed world needs certain factors in place, including a legal frame work for gender equality and equity. A level of awareness of the economic rights of women has to be attached before women can be mainstreamed in a modern economy. One way is to review the existing land texture systems in Uganda.
 
Socio – cultural context: Uganda is a patriarchal society where the males dominate the females. This is right from the family, community, and institutions, including the church. This also means that the status of women is subordinate, and in many communities this low status is reinforced by the practice of dowry and bride price. Under such circumstances, a woman is considered the property of man, along with chattel violence at family level has its roots in this low status of women and this goes all the way up the national level, begetting conflicts, corruption and bad governance. Women do not have the responsibility of making independent decisions with regard to their lives, in issues of marriage, family size, income and expenditure and even in their day- to- day lives.
 
The church’s role in this arena has been rather positive and gender- biased. The Catholic voices on the rights of women in Africa on challenges for church and society emphasized on the “FEMINIZATION OF POVERTY” as a problem both in the church and society, and pleaded for provision of a just compensation for women’s work (Reference:  Catholic voices on the Rights of women in Africa: challenges for the church and society page 3), 1995.
 
It is against this background that the Uganda Episcopal conference established the Uganda Catholic Women’s Bureau in June 1993 at the catholic secretariat in Nsambya in Kampala, Uganda.  In 1994 The Episcopal conference established Women Desks in all the Dioceses of Uganda in order to empower catholic women in social, economic, spiritual and political participation in the church and society and also to support them for their economic development, unity, solidarity, common purpose and Vision.
 
All these Catholic women Desks are united under the umbrella body of a national office called The Uganda Catholic women’s Bureau..
 
 
About the women’s Desk in Fort Portal Diocese
 
Women’s Desk & Gender Development office in Fort Portal Diocese is one of the departments under DSSD – CARITAS FORT PORTAL LTD. The office primarily deals with the promotion and support of the female sex affairs and their smooth co – existence with men. It is also the mainstream department in which problems affecting the female sex are addressed
 
Vision: A just and peaceful environment where women live in dignity, and assert themselves in church and society.
 
Mission:
 
The office exists to empower women and men in Fort Portal Diocese to improve their living and that of their families and communities for eternal salvation.
 
Values:
 
·        God loving
 
·        Social Economic Justice
 
·        Transparency and Accountability
 
·        Commitment
 
·        Gender sensitive
 
·        Self determination
 
·        Learning and accommodating new ideas
 
Objectives:
 
·        To promote socio – economic status of women in order to enhance the dignity of women in the diocese
 
This involves the activity of training women in business management, promotion of microfinance to women groups, exposure visits to social economic sites, linkage to other micro finance institutions, and training in sustainable agriculture.
 
·        To help women and the girl child in the diocese uphold their legal and human rights.
 
This involves activities of training on women’s rights, land rights, reduction on domestic violence and giving adult literacy
 
·        To promote gender sensitive living in the families in the diocese.
 
 This involves activities of gender awareness, workshops and programs for gender mainstreaming, interventions for women groups and their families
 
·        To enhance women’s/men’s spiritual development to ensure effective human integral development in the diocese.
 
This involves prayers and meditations before workshops and activities and encouraging women to put God first in families and community work.
 

 

PRESENT ACTIVITIES
 
 Promotion of micro finance to women entrepreneurs ( PROMIC)
 
 Overall objective of the project: Poverty reduction by enabling hundreds of individual poor women in registered groups carry out micro enterprises by the provision of credit ( loans), investment consulting & entrepreneurial training to generate self confidence and income to promote a culture of self –help to master poverty in Fort Portal Diocese.
 
 
 
Funding:  The project is funded by Swisshand Open hand an organization from Switzerland.
 
 This project gives micro loans to individual women in registered groups
 
It started in November 2005 piloted in Bukwali parish with a lending capital of 32, 000,000, from Swisshand. We started with 30 members from BWIDA group in Bukwali parish. Presently we are operating in 6 parishes: Bukwali, Butiiti, Virika, Yerya, Kanyamukale and few members from St. Charles Lwanga town parish with total number of 300 hundred clients. We have held 50 cumulative trainings and 500 new and old members have been trained and retrained in: Steps in becoming a successful entrepreneur, Micro Businesses - Advantages and Disadvantages, Venturing into business, Sources of business funding, Savings, Loan management, Simple costing, How to prepare a simple business plan, and Records keeping. In our trainings we involve husbands of our clients partly because they are the sole owner of the collateral for the loans and secondly to make sure that they do not obtain loan money from the women clients by force and use it for drinking.
 
Money in circulation 108.989, 750 Uganda shillings. This sum includes money with defaulters whom we have taken to court.
 
We have involved parish priest and catechists to sign for clients from their parishes in order to check defaulting. People are paying well apart from the few diehards whom we have arrested and some we have confiscated their property which we release on payment of the loans. We have one loans officer and a fully fledged loan office with a computer.
 
We have been given a second region of PROMIC activities of which we have written an application to partners in development through PROMIC National Coordination Office and we are eagerly waiting for their approval.
 
 We hope to implement this activity in Kahunge parish, Kahunge Sub County in Kamwenge District, Uganda in the near future.
 
Members of Yerya women’s group from Yerya parish receiving loans from the loans officer at DSSD CARITAS Headquarters at Virika, Fort Portal Diocese.
 
Achievements:
 
·        2388 have been trained in : Steps in becoming as successful entrprenuer, micro business, Advantages and disadvantages, venturing into business, Sources of business funding, savings, loan management, simple costing, How to prepare a simple business plan, Records keeping
 
·        600 clients have been helped with loans ranging from test loan of 200.000= to 800.000=. the loans have helped clients prosper in small businesses like brick, laying, pit sowing, fresh food businesses, second hand clothes, firewood selling, dry fish, retail shop, drug shops, piggery, tea rooms, micro maize selling and heifer projects among others
 
·        20 women have had their mud and wattle houses rehabilitated to be plastered and cemented
 
·        20 widows and 60 families have used benefits from loans to pay school fees to their children. Out of these 30 have graduated from higher institutions of learning like technical schools, business schools and medical schools, 2 of the children of our clients have graduated from universities
 
·        10 women have bought local heifers to get milk for their families
 
·        Two  women from Kyaibombo village in Bukwali parish have built mud and wattle commercial houses in the trading centers
 

Graduation party of the children of our widow client who has used loan from PROMIC to educate her children

 

Challenges:
 
Assumed grants: Despite our trainings, some clients think loan money is grant from Rome to the Bishop then to the poor Christians so they should either get it free or pay back the loans with no interest. We are trying to solve this problem through intensive constant training and requesting the parish priests sign for the clients confirming their capacity to pay back.
Defaulting: 173 members defaulted in September, 2008. The problem originated from the burning of Mpanga market which they claim affected their capital and selling materials.. We have taken them to court and some of them have disappeared to unknown places. We have engaged a lawyer and a court bailiff.
Defaulting has continued with some few members whom we arrest and they pay back
Poor saving culture: The clients’ savings are very poor despite our trainings so that clients have remained long in the program. Under National PROMIC guidelines they are supposed to be weaned out of the program after the fifth loan
Little Resources hindering us not to cover the whole diocese but remain in few parishes
 
 
Sustainable Agriculture programme
 
General Objective:  To ensure that 1000 farmers regard farming a profession and acquire the practical and theoretical skills to enable them better manage their land sustain ably and profitably by the year 2014
 
Specific objectives:
 
·        To provide knowledge and skills in farm families in order to enable them manage the environment sustain ably through agricultural practices
 
·        To assist the communities in the project area improve food security, increase income and produce adequate food
 
·        To promote the active participation of men, women and children as a family unit for improved family welfare by the end of the period. Attainment of Gender sensitivity and enhancement of economic capacity of women
 
·        To enable farmers access credit facilities. Accessibility of households to farm inputs and improved varieties to be increased
 
Present Activities:
 
·        Piggery: Training has been done in Kyerima 11 and Nyabwiina 3  Kamwenge District. Sub Topics covered are: Selection of pig stock, systems of pig management, plans for building pigsties and fittings, Feeds and feeding, pig diseases, their prevention and control. All farmers have built pigsties and have been supplied with improved pigs.


 Improved breeds of pigs distributed to farmers in Nyabwiina 3 village

 

 In Kyerima 11 village the project is comprised of 30 farm families with 600 farmers. Out of these 230 farmers are women while 70 farmers are men. In Nyabwiina 3 village the project has 30 farm families with a total of 300 farmers. Out of these 222 are women and 78 are men.
 
Training workshops  have been done in:
 
Banana management: We have covered topics on main parts of a banana plant, soil erosion control, two systems on banana thinning, control of banana bacterial wilt, banana planting, etc. All farmers have received farm implements such as hoes, pangas, wheel barrows and spades.
 
·        Gender considerations in farmer groups:  We have covered topics on implications of gender to development activities, practical gender needs, gender issues in farmer groups, gender issues in saving and credit groups and daily activity profile of men and women.
 
·        Environmental Health: This has been a cross cutting topic We have covered topics on water and airborne diseases,  we have encouraged all households to have latrines, bathrooms, drying racks, kitchen, goat sheds, compounds with sheds, boil drinking water and filter it, etc
 
·        Training in group dynamics: We have covered topics on group formation, what solidifies groups and what dismantles them stages of group formation, Constitution making, and Registration process among others.
 

A facilitator training in group Dynamics in Kyerima 11 in Kamwenge District
 
Out comes of the Project:
 
·        Improved banana management
 
30% of our farmers have good banana gardens, mulched, thinned, and with compost manure pits, contour bands and trenches. The banana production is better than it has been before project start marching with the present market prices which are 6000= to 10.000=  per bunch depending on its size  Traders are buying bananas from the farms of farmers. Also there has been improved food security for local consumption and for sale as a result of big bunches of bananas and also from the growth of other food crops like cassava, beans, sugar canes, potatoes, ground nuts, finger millet and  maize.
 
30% of the families and communities in the project area have understood gender roles and both women/ men, boys/girls are working together in domestic and community work This percentage has been measured through interviews with family members during our monitoring in home to home visits and also through interviews with stake holders such as LC1 councils.. As a result of Gender trainings in farmer groups, family members are now working together in farms. There are no longer work divisions among girls/ boys, men/women. Our women farmers have dropped their inferiority complex both in families and society. They can now express themselves in discussions during training workshops and farmer’s quarterly meetings. They are also engaged in marketing of their farm products unlike their low attitude and low self esteem at the beginning of the project when they were very shy and relying only on men to make decisions for them.


An improved banana bunch in Nyabwiina 3 after project start

 

Solidified farmers’ groups in the project area
 
As a result of training on group dynamics our farmers in Kyerima 2 and Nyabwiina 3 villages have group solidarity. The groups have chosen the Executive members and they hold weekly meetings on their own and have minute books where they write their minutes and take attendance of members. Their solidarity is further measured by their new project of monthly savings from their farm sales which they contribute for members to buy household items such as sauce pans.  They also do group farming in each other’ farms. Their daily income and their way of living have improved. This is measured by the way they dress and their feeding habits which comprise of balanced meals. Some members have also improved their houses and have built kitchen and latrines in their homesteads.  30% of the farmers are now able to pay their children’s school fees and cater for their scholastic material
 
 Improving livelihoods of farmers through sustainable Agriculture UGA65484
 
     Funding: The project is being funded by MANOS UNIDAS, Spain
 
     General Objective:  Peasant farmer’s income is improved through sustainable              Agriculture and Book keeping
 
  Specific Objectives:
 
-Peasant farmers groups of farmers in Kahunge Sub County acquire knowledge and skills in environmental management through sustainable agricultural practices.
-Peasant farmers in Kahunge improve their food security, increase income and produce adequate firewood
-Gender relationship is raised among farmer groups
-Farmers access farm inputs/implements
-Farmers access credit facilities
 
 
Brief Description of the project:
 
The project seeks to improve household income of farmers through sustainable Agriculture and savings and lending thus improving the livelihoods of the active poor farmers. The intervention will be through training workshops, field practices, and provision of pigs and farm implements that will provide them with knowledge and skills for the enhancement of improved agricultural products that will raise their income.
 
The project will also train farmers on Book keeping to help them know their income and expenditure from farm yields. The project will take 24 months
 
Project Location: The project is located in the mid south of Fort portal Diocese in Kahunge sub county in the District of Kamwenge, in western zUganda. By road it is 45 km from Fort Portal town following Bukwali –Kamwenge road. The project is implemented in the three parishes of : Kyakanyemera in Kyairima and Rukunyu Villages with 60 farmers. In mpanga parish in Mpanga 1 and Mpanga 2 villages with 60 farmers. In Rwenkuba Parish in Mpanga 1 and Mpanga 2 villages with 60 farmers. The project altogether is holding 180 direct farmers with 500 hundred indirect farmers.
 
Activities done:
 
 1. Conducting  a one day workshop for leaders:
We trained 90 stake holders from Kyakanyemera, Mpanga, and Rwenkuba Parishes on the objectives of the project and they have are showing support to the project through monitoring the target beneficiaries. They also helped us on the mobilization
 

Conducting a workshop for leaders in Kyakanyemera Parish in Kahunge Sub County
 
2. Registration of target beneficiaries
We have gone through the registration exercise in all the 3 parishes of Kyakanyemera, Mpanga, and Rwenkuba. We registered 180 farmers in all. Among them 100 are women and 80 are farmers. In the registration we covered the literacy rate of farmers, Housing situation, garden situation, age how many children from each family that are going to school: boys/girls, etc
 
3. Training of trainers’ course:
We have carried out the above course for the three parishes of Kyakanyemera, Rwenkuba, and Mpanga. In all we trained 6 participants in modern agriculture, Gender awareness, eradication of domestic violence in homes, environmental health, HIV/AIDS, Group dynamics, etc. After the course we availed them with bicycles for transport and other field needs We also gave them certificate of the above course. Their work will be to teach and monitor the beneficiaries on cite when we are not around to be in every home of the farmers.
 

A Facilitator in HIV/Aids training on cite workers on HIV Awareness
 

After the Trainer of Trainers’ course, on cite workers were given new bicycles to ease their transport to farms
 
4. Participatory training in group Dynamics:
In order to build solidarity in our registered farmers we conducted 18 training workshops on group dynamics to 180 farmers. Topics taught were:
 
 
        1. Working together in groups will help them to guide each other in theoretical and         practical skills they have obtained from the sustainable agriculture project workshops and   put them into use in their farms.
 
2. Group solidarity will also help them to have one voice in airing out their social economic and political needs to the government and society at large. Being in a group will help them sell their food at good prices because the united farmers will agree on one price so that middle traders will not exploit them.
 
3. Government of Uganda and other Non governmental organizations will always work with groups and not individuals so as already organized groups they will benefit from other programs as they come to their area.
 
.4 Other topics covered were on: Forming a group and what spoils it. Choosing the executive committees of the farmer groups and streaming out their roles in a group.


A Facilitator training in Group Dynamics to build solidarity in groups of farmers

 

Banana management
 
Banana is an important perennial crop grown in the project area both for food and for income raising Hence we have given skills for banana maintenance to the farmers. It is one of the crops that must be sustained in the farms of our beneficiaries because it has a ready market in the area since the project is surrounded by local markets as well as traders who buy them and take them to Kampala for food.
 
 Hence we have carried out trainings on banana management and soli conservation to 180 farmers. Sub topics covered were: Main parts of a banana plant, the inflorescence of the banana and it being one of the ways through which Sigatoka is spread to other banana plants if not removed earlier. Potassium deficiency in a banana plant which yellows green leaves of a banana stopping its feeding.
 
Soil conservation: Soil erosion control measures using stone bands and digging ditches in farms, two systems of thinning a banana stool, making a manure mound in banana gardens, etc, every farmer has been encouraged to have a manure pit in his/ her garden to generate manure for his or her farm. In order to control soil erosion since we found the area already invaded by soil erosion farmers have been encouraged to dig trenches in their gardens and plant Steria Vertibia (a plant which stops soil from being carried away by running water and it is also used for mulching the banana plants and can also be used as fodder for goats and cows as well as food for pigs). All banana gardens of framers are well managed. We distributed visual aids on modern agricultural practices and household hygiene
 
 
 
5.  Supply of farm implements to farmers
 
 180 farmers were supplied with farm implements such as hoes; pangas, wheel barrows, spades, and pickaxes. Farmers are putting into use the farm implements to improve their farms. The beneficiaries have been selected using the local churches and the local councils in the project area. We have considered both Catholics and Protestants as our beneficiaries.
 

Farmers in Kyakanyemera parish receiving farm implements. Note happy they are dancing traditional dance....