In celebratation of Earth Day, here’s a look at some programs that are improving community health through soap.
Development is complex, and is never as easy as 1-2-3. It must take into account many human factors – our diversity, experience, present realities, personalities, cultures – but that’s not all. Climate change, natural disasters, societal pressures, politics, global markets, environmental degradation from industry or local practices: all have an influence on how our program participants can adapt to change and adopt practices that will help them break the cycle of poverty. Even a seemingly simple practice like using soap promote health and hygiene may not be so simple for some people in our world.
FRB’s Uganda-Busoga program is based on the premise that the food security of smallholder maize farmers increases when husbands and wives learn to work together toward the goal of increasing their maize production. Traditionally, women and men have farmed separately, with women’s efforts going toward caring for the whole family, and men raising money that sometimes went to the family but most often went to meet their individual needs. This program encourages both spouses to think about the family as a unit that needs to be cared for first.
Chandiru, a single mother of three, is a member of a Farmer Field School (FFS) in FRB’s Uganda-West Nile program. The schools train farmers on sustainable farming technologies and other subjects related to food security, including sanitation and nutrition.
In communities such as Chandiru’s, many households do not have toilets or other sanitary facilities, exposing the communities to health risks such as cholera, diarrhea, and infections. Chandiru said that, before she joined the group, issues of sanitation and hygiene were not important to her, but now that’s all changed through the trainings she’s received.
In the Busoga region of Uganda, FRB and its member organization Lutheran World Relief (LWR) are partnering with NAMUBUKA Grains Area Cooperative Enterprise (ACE) to help increase the income of 1,500 smallholder farmers. FRB's Uganda-Busoga program is one of three pilot programs in LWR’s cross-regional, gender-integrated food security and agriculture initiative, the Learning for Gender Integration (LGI) initiative.
Looking back at her life before skills training, Prosy, a 23-year-old woman with a disability in her left leg, wonders where she would be if not for the food security, livelihood and entrepreneurship skills training she’s received from FRB’s Uganda-Kireka Lweza program at the Lweza Rehabilitation Center for disabled youth.
Rehabilitation Center students are disproving the widespread Ugandan belief that people with disabilities are unable to care for themselves or contribute to their communities. These students are now earning incomes, growing their own food, selling or bartering their extra production, starting small business, training others and working as consultants.
One of the focuses of the FRB’s Uganda-West Nile program is equal gender involvement in agricultural production. In Uganda, the perception of farm work as women’s work is slowly changing through trainings. In fact, men like Bran are now helping their wives in the field!
Mariam and Bran have nine children. Mariam is a member of one of the programs Farmer Field Schools (FFS), and she always shares her knowledge with her family. As Bran explains it, “I was changed by the training on equal gender involvement in agriculture.
Recently, a guest participant at a learning meeting FRB hosted in June 2013 in Uganda shared the following with FRB staff:
"Our church has a ministry for women living with HIV AIDS in which we helped decrease stigma and help them openly declare their status. This has encouraged other people in the community to go for testing and counseling, starting retroviral drugs and living in positive lifestyles for their own safety.
One farmer’s story
Emmanuel, 47, is now closer to food security for his family thanks to context appropriate ag training and a loan of plant materials from the FRB-supported Uganda-Teso food security program. With the farming technologies he’s learned, he’s produced enough cassava and groundnuts to sell.
FRB’s Uganda-West Nile program with 1250 individuals from 250 households in 10 communities, uses Farmer Field Schools (FFS) and Village Savings and Loan groups (VSLs) to help and inspire community members grow enough food for their families, earn incomes, create small businesses, get all their children into school, and envision a better future. Here are some of their stories...