innovations in poverty eradication in ugandaWhen it comes to the fight against poverty, innovation is just as important as in any other field. Coming up with creative, sustainable solutions for such a massive problem is critical in any nation. However, it is more important in developing countries, where funds allocated for poverty reduction are often limited. By thinking outside the box, governments, private sector organizations and NGOs can effectively accomplish poverty reduction efforts across many sectors. Here are just a few innovations in poverty eradication in Uganda.

The Private Sector

In fact, the private sector is often where innovation originates and forward-thinking people thrive. Normally, many people think of poverty reduction as a job for governments and NGOs. However, by involving private corporations, the fight against poverty can work outside the bureaucracy that often impedes the work of governmental agencies.

Additionally, there is a large incentive for private businesses to get involved with poverty reduction. The world’s poor represents a largely untapped market of consumers. By lifting them out of poverty, businesses will create a larger client base and ultimately more profit. Today, 4 billion people are living on less than $8 a day. This segment of the population provides opportunities for expanded market development and human capital. Indeed, there is no shortage of entrepreneurs looking to work with this demographic.

Innovations in Poverty Eradication in Uganda

The private sector is where many innovations in poverty eradication in Uganda emerge. One particular business-focused innovation that has taken hold in Uganda is microfinancing. Microfinancing practices give small loans to fledgling entrepreneurs. Recipients use the loans to grow their businesses, create jobs and positively impact their communities. This opportunity for those traditionally excluded from the banking system to obtain credit has done lots of good, particularly in Uganda.

For example, The Hunger Project is taking its microfinancing efforts one step further. Not only is it promoting economic self-reliance, but it is ensuring the inclusion of women. Women even lead its microfinancing program, giving them an influential voice in their communities. Thus, microfinancing is one among many innovations in poverty eradication in Uganda.

Empowering Women

Another success story is the Women’s Microfinance Initiative (WMI). WMI’s mission is “to establish village-level loan hubs. Local women administrate the loan hubs to provide capital, training and support services for women in East Africa. This is to help them engage in income-producing activities.” Since 2008, WMI has issued over $7.2 million in loans to more than 17,500 women in East Africa. The organization estimates that each loan provides a positive economic outcome for at least 20 people. Overall, this means that this program has reached over 350,000 individuals in the past 12 years.

The anecdotal evidence above as well as the available data show that microfinancing initiatives are effective innovations in poverty eradication in Uganda. According to the World Bank, the percentage of those living below the poverty line in Uganda decreased by 11.4% from 2006 to 2013. The organization credits much of this progress to agricultural innovations, many of which use microfinancing. This goes to show that often, innovation and progress happen from the bottom up.

Moving Forward

However, if this progress is to continue, innovators looking to further innovations in poverty eradication in Uganda need to focus on malnutrition, education, sanitation and electricity. Without access to these services, innovation efforts will fall short. Therefore, a potential approach to poverty reduction in Uganda would be a blend of governmental, NGO and private sector efforts. Long-term, inclusive and sustainable solutions can go a long way toward reducing poverty in Uganda and elsewhere.

Addison Collins
 Photo: Flickr

Elevate in UgandaPresent and pressing obstacles concerning education in Uganda do not center around access anymore. As Uganda improves on how many children will acquire schooling, the significant gaps are now noticeable through the quality of education that the children receive. Elevate in Uganda partners for education endeavors to tackle this precise issue. As stated by the organization, “the poor quality of education delivered in the classroom stops children from thriving and from reaching their true potential.” Without a strong start and foundation to build upon, Ugandan children will continue to face challenging and unjust school and life outcomes.

How Elevate is Improving Education

Elevate’s interventions are increasing the accountability of schools. The community influences the attendance of students as well as facilitates the conduction of teachers. Schools have more responsibility through parental involvement, leading to higher standards in Ugandan education. By engaging the entire community, Elevate makes everyone a part of the solution.

Getting to the Roots

Additionally, Elevate monitors and works with schools that are already established in Uganda. It has become apparent that the problem does not only lie within the confines of the school. Parents who are unaware of the gains that come from education and are unequipped to make the necessary improvements needed in the school often end up unengaged with their child’s education. Many parents of children attending Ugandan government-run schools don’t even know the teacher’s name.

SMC and Scorecard Systems

Furthermore, Elevate initiates community engagement by gathering over 60 members of the community for a meeting. It also provides training in the development of a School Management Committee to recognize significant issues concerning the school. A scorecard keeps track of school quality in areas that need improvement. This scorecard is accessible to the District Education Officer (DEO). It is also an incentive to improve upon. Elevate may introduce the community to these revolutionary actions. To achieve a lasting solution, a trained community representative keeps these programs up every year.

Elevate and COVID-19

From a recent study that included participants that were headteachers of Ugandan schools, Elevate continues to impact education in Uganda during COVID-19 positively. Eighty-eight headteachers were contacted to contribute to a study that revealed the impressive impact of Elevate. This happened after all the school shutdowns of the pandemic. The differences in schools and communities that received intervention from Elevate compared to those who did not receive intervention provide a look into the organization’s sustainable solutions.

Three of the 88 teachers managed to maintain communication with students after the schools closed. All of them were teachers who took part in the intervention program initiated by Elevate. They had fewer dropout rates after the schools closed compared to those who were not associated with Elevate. Within the communities that Elevate affected, members reported much more trust in the headteachers over those who did not receive interventions from Elevate. Headteachers associated with Elevate’s program felt that their role in the community was meaningful during the pandemic.

Overall, Elevate inspires members of each community that it contributes to by helping them realize their voice, their role and their ability to take part in their children’s success. The organization sheds light on the power in unity that lies within communities even as they face poverty.

– Amy Schlagel
Photo: Flickr

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Akola_women_in_Uganda.jpgDiva Taxi, an all-female transportation company, recently launched in Uganda. As Uganda’s female-run rideshare, it is distinct because of its strict rule of hiring only female drivers. Diva Taxi hopes to alleviate the demand for taxis in the Ugandan capital city, Kampala while providing women with a safe method of transportation. While the company expects to thrive in the rapidly developing capital, Diva Taxi also hopes to expand to other regions in Uganda. Its emphasis on female entrepreneurship, strict screening and affordability will positively affect the transportation sector in the Ugandan economy. Moreover, it will employ women struggling financially. Here are 5 ways in which Diva Taxi will positively influence Ugandan women.

5 Benefits of Diva Taxi: Uganda’s Female-Run Rideshare

  1. Hiring Women. Diva Taxi focuses on hiring women, a demographic typically overlooked on other driving applications. Gillian Kobusingye, one of the managing partners of Diva Taxi, observes that other companies are male-dominated. She estimates that men make up 80% of transportation companies in Uganda. Because of this, companies are less likely to hire women drivers, favoring the status quo. This gender disparity is not restricted to the transportation sector alone: 14.4% of working-age Ugandan women are unemployed. This, compared with 6.2% of men. Diva Taxi eliminates this selection bias as Uganda’s female-run rideshare.
  2. Affordability. Becoming an employee of Diva Taxi is completely affordable. For women struggling financially, the need to purchase technology or equipment often restricts access to desperately-needed jobs. Like Uber and Bolt, Diva Taxi is an application, which means office registration and other bureaucratic red tape is avoidable when joining. Employees only need a functioning car to join the team. Diva Taxi drivers note how the company’s flexibility provided them the opportunity to quickly make money for their families. This is critical during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Since the onset of the pandemic, jobs shrank in Uganda, enhancing the significance of jobs that remain open to female employees.
  3. Employee Safety. The application prioritizes safety for its employees. New hires are taught basic self-defense skills to guard themselves against potentially dangerous clients. One precautionary measure for drivers includes “Panic Alerts,” a protective in-app function that safeguards employees from potential thieves. Additionally, employees and customers receive a unique registration number when they create their profile. This enables their tracking if things go awry. Lastly, customers must book rides two hours in advance so no relative trip requests can occur that may endanger the driver.
  4. Client Safety. Diva Taxi offers a safe ride home for girls and women. Despite newly-passed laws and policies to protect victims and survivors of abuse, violence against women increased by 4% in Uganda. According to the Uganda Police Force’s annual report, as of 2016 — 22% of Ugandan women between the ages of 15–49 experienced some form of sexual violence. This percentage is equivalent to more than 1 million Ugandans. A safe, female-run company like Diva Taxi is an essential form of transportation for women. This group is among the vulnerable in the bustling streets of Kampala, especially at night.
  5. COVID-19 Precautions. Diva Taxi takes the necessary precautions against COVID-19. All drivers must clean their cars routinely, as well as wear a mask to maintain the safety of the customer and themselves. As of August 2020, Uganda has 2,362 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which means these precautions are still necessary.

By Women, For Women

Diva Taxi was created by women, is run by women and protects women. Although Diva Taxi was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic (an uncertain era for transportation companies) it is a positive influence on female Ugandans which will hopefully keep it afloat.

Faven Woldetatyos
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ugandan OrphansAccording to UNICEF, approximately 65% of Ugandan minors are orphans and categorized as vulnerable children. Specifically, the country has 8 million children that are vulnerable and more than 2.2 million children who are orphans. The organization attributes these high numbers as the outcome of the AIDS pandemic. As a result, this leads to many families losing one or more parental figures in their household. Living conditions in the country lack both quality and quantity, with several structural concerns. This is especially prevalent for impoverished communities and worse for Ugandan orphans. Habitat for Humanity Uganda estimates that 900,000 housing units in the country are below standard and in dire need of upgrading. This is not including the extreme need for additional housing units across Uganda.

Inspiration to Create Weight of Glory Orphan Care

Weight of Glory Orphan Care is a nonprofit established by three college friends from Arkansas who are creating glory for Ugandan orphans. In 2010 Travis, Krystin and Megan spent a semester in college visiting the L’esperance Children’s Aid orphanage in Uganda. Within a couple of days, the three friends became invested in the connections they made with the orphans. They also cultivate a strong friendship with the director Wilbroad. During their five months stay, these three students viewed the orphanage’s daily struggles, especially as they planned to relocate in the near future.

Like many other orphanages, the L’esperance is highly dependent on volunteers and international donations. Upon arriving back in the U.S., the three friends kept in touch with Wilbroad. They discovered that in the relocation process to Lake Victoria, the orphanage had lost much of their regular donation support. In the summer of 2014, only 20 out of the 78 kids had a home. Additionally, many had to be sent to distant boarding schools due to a lack of education funds at L’esperance.

Establishing Weight of Glory

Travis, Krystin and Megan informed their communities of the difficulties the Ugandan children were suffering. They received support in tremendous ways. In addition, the support led to the realization that a U.S. based nonprofit organization that invests in orphaned kids in Uganda was a possibility. Within the first two years of establishing Weight of Glory, the nonprofit was able to assist in rebuilding a Kinoyo Kindergarten classroom. The classroom has the capacity for 120 children. Additionally, the goal of the Arkansas-based nonprofit is to produce sustainable solutions for Ugandan orphanages. As a result, it leads to the construction of a poultry farm that houses 1,000 chicks at L’esperance.

Weight of Glory Helps Ugandan Orphans

The Weight of Glory Orphan Care commits to creating sustainable projects that help the orphans directly. For example, sponsorship for 25 children at L’esperance, taking the primary role as an international partner and holding Gala fundraising events to educate the local communities about orphanages in Uganda. But one of the bigger projects that has had success is the read-a-thons at local schools. During this project, local U.S. children are educated about the daily lives of Ugandan children. The program also promotes donations that assist in providing school supplies to the primary school children in L’esperance. Additionally, they sell merchandise online that helps support their status as a nonprofit organization and goes directly to supporting Ugandan orphans.

From their time spent at L’esperance, the three friends discovered the four categories by which the children find support at L’esperance. Primary school orphans are dependent on the orphanage for their education from a very young age. Meanwhile, secondary school orphans are finishing their education through L’esperance. On the other hand, community students are residents of the local community with limited access to essentials such as food and clothing. These children are invited to the Kinyo Kindergarten at L’esperance for support and education from a young age. But the main group is resident orphans, who are completely dependent on the orphanage, from living quarters to education programs.

Megan, Krystin and Travis drew on their experience in Uganda to build the Weight of Glory Orphan Care nonprofit. The success of the nonprofit lies in partnering with local communities with international partners that can support the orphanages. These friends’ nonprofit is creating glory for Ugandan orphans by attempting to carry the heavyweight of caring and shining a light on the stories untold in global orphanages.

Sumeet Waraich
Photo: Flickr

Access to Oxygen
Many often take oxygen for granted but during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become a valuable and sometimes scarce resource. Coronavirus heavily affects the respiratory system; access to oxygen is crucial for doctors to effectively treat their patients. However, medical oxygen tanks often rely on electricity to function. In regions without stable access to power, this can be a dangerous system.

The FREO2 LPOS System

The Fully Renewable Energy Oxygen Foundation, or FREO2 for short, is an Australia-based health technology research group. It developed a suite of technology innovations that can store and dispense medical oxygen without using electricity. FREO2’s work includes the creation, development and deployment of innovative health technologies to underserved hospitals around the world.

FREO2 began developing its oxygen system in 2011. It was spurred by the dire effects that unreliable access to medical oxygen has on children suffering from pneumonia. Pneumonia is the greatest threat to children’s lives in the world, despite the proven effectiveness of medical oxygen as treatment. With the support of the Ugandan government, FREO2’s medical experts and engineers found a solution: they harnessed the power of water.

How Does the FREO2 LPOS System Work?

The FREO2 Low-Pressure Oxygen Store (LPOS) system uses an oxygen concentrator machine to remove most nitrogen from the surrounding air, leaving nearly pure oxygen which is then stored in a large bag. If the hospital experiences a power outage, the LPOS system uses gravity-powered water from above to push oxygen through its pipes at the correct height to ensure the appropriate amount of pressure for the patient. The LPOS system can provide electricity-free medical oxygen for 8 to 10 hours, allowing under-resourced hospitals to treat their patients more effectively.

At the Mbarara Hospital in southeastern Uganda, doctors struggled to provide uninterrupted access to oxygen to children afflicted with pneumonia and other respiratory infections because of unreliable electricity. FREO2 first used the LPOS system on a six-month-old patient in July 2018 at the Mbarara Hospital in Uganda. FREO2’s LPOS system was crucial to treating his pneumonia and his successful recovery.

Inequality in Access to Oxygen

Innovations such as the FREO2 LPOS system have the capability to save lives in remote regions during the coronavirus pandemic. Unequal access to oxygen is an indicator of stark health inequalities between and within countries. Although medical oxygen has been recognized as essential for decades, there are still many health centers without stable access to it.

After its initial success in 2018, FREO2 plans to dispense the LPOS system at scale to 30,000 clinics in regions across Africa and Southeast Asia where the risk of pneumonia is great. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgency of this issue. To aid health centers during the pandemic, FREO2 has donated eight LPOS systems to rural hospitals in Uganda.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, unequal access to oxygen can be a matter of life or death. The ingenious work of organizations like FREO2 is central in the current global health crisis and beyond. Innovations like the LPOS system have the power to narrow the gap in healthcare access across the world. FREO2’s work could mitigate the effects of health crises at underserved health centers in the future.

Leina Gabra
Photo: Flickr

Biotechnology in UgandaBiotechnology’s recent rise has led many countries with abundant resources to further their healthcare services and agriculture. Embracing this innovation movement has led Uganda to improve its economic growth and the country’s development significantly. By doing so, Uganda progresses to have an edge in growing a bio-resource economy due to the country’s rich resources. The constant advancement of biotechnology in Uganda has led to improved farming, toxic waste management and medical diagnostics and treatments. Continued improvement depends on the governmental support to the science and technology field.

About Uganda’s Biotechnology

While this form of technology covers a wide range of live organism manipulation, biotechnology in Uganda solely deals with technology associated with transgenic organisms and recombinant DNA alteration. This form of modern scientific technology became prominent in 1993. This was when the Ugandan Department of Animal Science and Faculty of Agriculture at Makerere University proposed using the transgenically derived bovine somatotropin (BST) hormone for cattle growth and lactate production. Genetic engineering of agrobacteria produces the BST hormone and boosts the agriculture economy in return. However, due to the controversy over growth hormones at the time, the import of BST halted.

Two years later, biotechnology usage was necessary for Phase 1 trials of a potential HIV-1 vaccine (ALVAC vCP 205). It was the first HIV-1 preventative vaccine study in Uganda and Africa as a whole. This vaccine was a live recombinant canarypox vector expressing HIV-1 glycoproteins. Both the BST and HIV-1 vaccine proposals provided a basis for the foundation for the national biosafety guidelines. They led to the establishment of the National Biosafety Committee in 1996.

Research into biotechnology continues to pose an advantage for Uganda. Moving these transgenic products to the commercial market requires a full governmental understanding within the biotechnology innovation market.

Effects on Ugandan Healthcare and Agriculture

Over the years, Ugandan biotechnology has widely helped both the healthcare and agriculture industry. Laboratory projects regarding genetic resistance to pathogens, droughts and other disasters aid the crop growth throughout the nation. Ongoing research on animal vaccines such as East Coast Fever and Foot and Mouth Disease has facilitated the animal life expectancy. The study has also improved food production in Uganda.

Characterization of crop pathogens such as sweet potato feathery mottle virus through molecular markers has led to better disease prevention techniques. For example, east African Highland bananas are being genetically modified to resist banana bacterial wilt, weevils and overall improve the nutritional value of the plant. Established in 2007, these modified bananas have been able to confer resistance against the black Sigatoka disease.

Additionally, the crops’ genetic diversity multiplies more now than ever, prompting a path towards a more complicated and safe GMO industry. Bananas and pineapples are artificially bred using tissue culture techniques, providing more products annually. Agro-Genetic Technologies Ltd’s (AGT) coffee bean proliferation is also underway.

Regarding the health sector, pharmacokinetics and drug resistance techniques receive heavy study. Multi-drug and drug-resistant diseases widespread in Uganda, such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria, are especially heavily studied. Clinical trials for DNA-based vaccines utilizing the recombinant adenovirus five vectors are also in progress.

Population Participation Increases

In the past few years, an average biotechnology worker in Uganda earned around 3,520,000 UGX per month. Biotechnology in Uganda has led to sufficient wages. However, this form of science has also increased the participation of different demographic groups, namely women. Women in the field have strongly encouraged the use of agricultural biotechnology.

Dr. Priya Namanya Bwesigye is the lead Ugandan banana researcher at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL) in Kawanda. She claims that African women are looking for new solutions. They are also looking into how they can use technology to give their people and themselves better and improved crop varieties to fight hunger and improve living quality. Bwesigye and her team use genetic engineering to make disease-resistant bananas and provide more nutrition. One of these modified bananas provides vitamin A as well. Her program provides farmers with these improved bananas and a foundation for the multiplication of said fruit with proper restraints.

For biotechnology in Uganda to take off, the population must be adequately educated about the effects of this form of science and its changes. Bwesigye, for one, explains agricultural biotechnology to farmers and why it is necessary. The Uganda Biosciences Information Center (UBIC) began training teachers in this modern form of science. This was done to popularize the technology in local communities. UBIC trained 27 teachers and 12 textbook authors after the education department mandated that the national curriculum in secondary schools integrated this new form of science. The National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) held a one-week training course. Participants visit field trials of genetically modified crops and other research laboratories. These trials and laboratories involved different aspects of agriculture and health.

The Biosafety Bill of Uganda

With the use of biotechnology rising, ethical problems have started to arise. To ease integrating this new form of technology into the mainstream market, the Ugandan government established the Biosafety Bill of Uganda. This bill’s mission is to provide a proper framework that enforces safe development and biotechnology in Uganda. Its mission is also to regulate research and the release of these GMOs into the public. The population was torn between the ethical controversy surrounding biotechnology. However, the bill was able to go into effect in 2018 after much deliberation.

Overall, Ugandan biotechnology has dramatically impacted the country, especially in its agriculture and the healthcare industry. As time progresses, biotechnology in Uganda has improved and heavily aids as an asset to the country.

Aditi Prasad
Photo: Flickr

road infrastructure in ugandaUganda is a country in East Africa made up of around 43 million people. There are three transport systems in Uganda: airways, railways and roadways. Most roads in Uganda are in a poor condition. As a result, this inadequate road infrastructure leads to dangerous conditions and poses a safety threat to its users. Here are three effects of inadequate road infrastructure in Uganda.

3 Effects of Inadequate Road Infrastructure in Uganda

  1. Inadequate roads lead to more deaths. Unpaved roads are dangerous because cars can fall into potholes or get hit by debris. In 2016, 20 accidents happened on the Mbale-Nkokonjeru road in Uganda because of dangerous conditions. Moreover, one in 10 deaths in Uganda occurred because of road accidents in 2018. Uganda accordingly ranks first in road fatalities in East Africa. Additionally, road accidents in Uganda increased by 74% from 2006 to 2016. The Uganda National Road Authority (UNRA) has been in charge of most road renovations in Uganda. In Mbale Municipality, the UNRA has attempted to get private companies to place tarmac on the roads. However, the companies have abandoned the projects. The residents of Mbale Municipality continue to be outraged by terrible road infrastructure in Uganda and have protested several times about the unfinished roads.
  2. Poor road infrastructure in Uganda reduces tourism. Tourists rely on roads to go to different villages and experience Uganda, a land-locked country. Unpaved roads create problems for travelers trying to get to different locations. For example, the Queen Elizabeth National Park Road usually takes more than two hours to travel 72 kilometers, but it can take more than four hours if the weather conditions change because it is not a finished road. If mudslides or severe weather conditions occur, the roads are unnavigable. However, tourism accounted for $1.6 billion or 7.7% of Uganda’s GDP in 2019. In addition, the tourism sector created 667,600 jobs for Ugandan residents in 2019. Despite the government’s attempts to increase tourism, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities has not focused on road construction.
  3. Farmers rely on roads to transport agricultural products. The agricultural sector is one of the largest industries in Uganda, making up 70% of available jobs. The Ministry of Works and Transport estimated that 95% of cargo is moved through roads, while only 16% of roads are finished in Uganda. The inadequate road infrastructure in Uganda elevates the cost of transportation. Additionally, gasoline prices in Uganda stand at about $1 a liter, but most farmers make only $7 a day. Hazardous road conditions may require farmers to use more gasoline, thus raising the price of transportation. Along with this, users may need to repair their vehicles more often because of unpaved roads being unsuitable for the two rainy seasons in Uganda. Farmers unable to travel to sell produce lack a steady income.

The Ugandan Government’s Solution

The U.N. recommended that the Ugandan government implement a Decade of Action to target road safety from 2011 to 2020. In order to succeed, Uganda had to follow certain guidelines set by the U.N. They included working with local governments to create a better infrastructure and educating the public on road safety. So far, the Ugandan government has completed only 40% of the plan, but it is an ongoing process.

The U.N.’s main criticism of Uganda’s policies is that there is no method of implementing road safety. The UNRA does not have sufficient jurisdiction to engineer roads in the best way to deal with heavy traffic, steep cliffs and mudslides. However, the UNRA continues to work on road projects to improve infrastructure in Uganda. For example, the China Communications Construction Company finished the Mubende – Kakumiro – Kagadi road with asphalt in January 2020.

Road infrastructure in Uganda still needs tremendous improvement. By continuing to create contracts with private countries and enforcing road safety laws, the Ugandan government can work toward bettering inadequate road infrastructure. In doing so, Uganda would advance toward reaching the U.N.’s Decade of Action guidelines.

Sarah Litchney
Photo: Flickr

Effects of Poverty on Orphans in Uganda
In Uganda, Africa around 12% of children are orphans. Many of the children have either lost both or one of their parents due to high rates of cholera and tuberculosis, as well as the high price tag of medical treatment in Uganda. In addition, the number of orphans in Uganda is increasing. UNICEF estimates that there are over 2 million orphans living in Uganda. The Amani Baby Cottage, located in Uganda, Africa, has dedicated itself to helping orphans. It makes sure that these children receive proper care, reunite with their families or become adopted by new ones.

How Amani Baby Cottage Helps Fight Poverty in Uganda

The Amani Baby Cottage started in 2003. The orphanage is located in Uganda, Africa, specifically in Jinja. The facilities allow Amani to take in around 60 children at a time, catering to children who are newborn to 5 years old in particular. The orphanage focuses on taking in abandoned children. Many of the children’s parents died due to AIDS. This means that many of the children are HIV positive. Amani has helped an estimated 400 children since its start in 2003.

The owner and founder of Amani Baby Cottage, Danyne Bharj, says that she had the inspiration to start Amani when she was 23 years old. The African Children’s Choir, a traveling children’s choir of 7 to 10-year-old’s who travel the world to perform and sing, came to her church. Danyne says that the choir’s performance moved her and after housing five of the children in her home, became very connected and invested in the African Children’s Choir. Danyne ended up touring with the group and forming a great relationship with the children and individuals who ran the choir. According to Danyne, this experience inspired her to start the Amani Baby Cottage in Uganda.

Amani also employs many women in neighboring districts. Approximately 45 Ugandans work at the orphanage. They care of the children as nurses, work to keep the grounds in good condition and work in the main office aiding with adoptions and social work. While many people work tirelessly to help support Amani, it always appreciates donations. Donors can donate money generally or can even sponsor a specific child. Additionally, they are able to donate certain supplies that Amani needs at the moment. Its website lists those supplies.

Amani’s Volunteer Programs

For those interested in doing more than just donating to Amani, the orphanage provides an internship program. Individuals from around the globe are welcome to go to Amani in Africa to spend quality time with the children and staff there. Interns can do a short-term internship of six weeks to three months or a long-term internship of three months to a year. Individuals can participate in the program as a group or alone. While there, interns have the opportunity to work in the nurseries or cottages, or with the older children or at the preschool. In addition, the interns can nurse and help with social work or other projects that might need to be done around Amani, such as building projects. Amani chooses its interns through an application process on its website. Amani’s Instagram page features many interns playing with and taking care of the children.

Schools at Amani

Amani has started a preschool for the older children at the orphanage. The children who are old enough attend classes during the week, learn things such as the alphabet, numbers, shapes and months of the year. The classes also include snack time and lots of fun educational games. Amani has staffed an onsite teacher to teach the children, with help from other volunteers as well.

For the children who become too old to stay at Amani, either, a family adopts the child, or the child’s parents come back. Regardless of the outcome, there are social workers who check in to make sure that the family and child are doing well. However, in the rare case that this does not happen, Amani will set the child up with a family in the surrounding area that they have bonded with and who Amani has a strong relationship with.

More to Do

Though Danyne has done much to try and help care for children in Uganda living in poverty through Amani Baby Cottage, more effort is required to decrease the number of children living in poverty. The Ugandan government has implemented the Poverty Alleviation Programmes in Uganda.

These programs specifically target children who are living in poor areas. Additionally, the program helps to better educate the youth living in Uganda. The number of children in this program continued to grow greatly since the introduction of the program in the 1990s. According to the World Bank, Uganda has been successful in driving down the poverty rate within the last decade as the percentage of individuals living below the poverty line declined from 31.1% to 19.7% in 7 years. However, new troubles have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic as many families do not have access to medical care and money from tourism has decreased significantly. In regard to COVID-19, one can have hope that the rate of poverty in Uganda will continue to decrease.

Olivia Eaker
Photo: Flickr

While it may not always seem like it, the services provided by the U.S. government are vast and exceptional. For example, Americans do not have to panic over the possibility of waste runoff contaminating their water or having to dispose of their week’s worth of garbage by themselves. For services like these, Americans usually have government-sponsored help that is reliable and guaranteed. However, what is typical in the U.S. is not the norm for developing countries. This is particularly the case in Uganda, where poor waste management leads to poor public health in Kampala.

High Cost of Waste Management

Creating sustainable and effective waste management systems is incredibly expensive. According to the World Bank, efficient waste management services can require 20% to 50% of a government’s budget. This makes such services frequently unattainable for municipalities in developing countries. Indeed, this is exactly the problem posed by waste management in Kampala, Uganda.

On the outskirts of Kampala is the Kiteezi landfill. Opened in 1996, the landfill was intended to last until 2010, but it is still in use today. Not only has the landfill been used far past its capacity, but due to rapid urbanization, the city has generated substantially more waste than originally projected. This has culminated in a dire state of public health in Kampala.

Waste Management and Public Health in Kampala

The lack of residential services in Uganda only serves to exacerbate this problem. Kampala, like many cities, is not homogenous. There are a wide variety of infrastructure accommodations, socio-economic conditions and community engagements involved in municipal services. Poor road conditions can make it difficult for collection trucks to pass through living areas. A lack of communication regarding sanctioned dumping sites can lead to confusion and improper disposal practices, such as burning waste or piling it in an area where the waste will not be collected or sanitized.

What are the repercussions of all of this? Firstly, it can degrade residents’ quality of life. Seeing and smelling waste build up is enormously unpleasant. Additionally, that waste buildup can have serious public health consequences. The burning of garbage can produce methane, exacerbating climate change. Waste sites are the perfect breeding grounds for mosquitos, which, for countries riddled with malaria, can make exposure to infectious disease much more likely. Rain can allow waste to flow into water sources and contaminate food sources, making illnesses like cholera and bacterial infections more prevalent. Ultimately, poor waste management in Kampala is a public health hazard.

Building a New Landfill

Currently, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is negotiating with investors to build a new landfill and work with the city to revamp waste management services with private contractors to improve public health in Kampala. This agreement will cap the Kiteezi landfill, create a new landfill with the city’s needs in mind and allow Kampala to utilize recycling processes to generate revenue for the municipality. This type of agreement is known as a public-private partnership (PPP).

PPPs are a popular way to get better services to more people, as these agreements allow municipalities to delegate certain services to companies that have the resources and experience to implement them. The End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act, passed by Congress in December 2019, supports the use of PPPs to combat similar issues. This legislation utilizes the resources and expertise of both local and U.S. governmental agencies, as well as private-sector health institutions, to combat debilitating ailments such as malaria and dengue fever in developing countries. Public health in Kampala, as well as in other similarly situated cities, relies on measures like the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act.

Much-Needed Funding

However, treating these diseases after their infliction is not the only way public health can be bettered in developing cities. Indeed, the best solution to public health crises is to cut off these ailments at their sources, which in many countries requires proper waste management and sanitation. According to The World Bank, investment in infrastructure, education and citizen engagement is the best path to making waste management sustainable and safe.

Whether this investment is through private contractors partnering with developing governments or urging the U.S. to increase its funding for international health projects, cities like Kampala need solutions to manage waste effectively to ensure the safety and health of their citizens.

Cecilia Payne
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Uganda’s 2021 Scientific ElectionsBeing in office for over 30 years, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has implemented limitations on the nation’s 2021 parliamentary elections. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 worldwide, the President has decided to enforce a “scientific election.” The scientific campaign is encouraging to ensure the nation’s safety during the pandemic. With that said, Ugandans have grown increasingly more dubious towards President Museveni over the years. Thus, this election year has erupted anger among citizens, as well as concerns over the potential motives. Here is what you need to know about Uganda’s president and the upcoming election.

Politics in Uganda

Uganda, a presidential republic, has universal suffrage for all citizens over the age of 18. As a multi-party system, Ugandan politics remain democratic. With that said, a 2019 study conducted by a civil action group, Democratic Action and Engagement, stated that the 2021 election may bring unrest amid civilians and authorities. Around 89% of the 450 interviewed stated that they were fearful of the violence the upcoming election may bring. This is due to a handful of issues Ugandans face daily.

Said-issues include a “lack of electoral reform” as stated by VOA News. Electoral reform has been a large concern for Ugandans since 2006. While there have been movements towards reform, citizens are also concerned about security agencies’ presence in partisan politics and tribal unrest.

As mentioned in Democracy in Africa, President Museveni has faced significant opposition for many years. Around 76% of Ugandans live in rural areas. These citizens are less likely to stay up-to-date about political activity and the desired reforms in urban areas. This “winning strategy,” as described by Democracy in Africa, has created a political bias for many years. Considering 2021’s scientific elections, this bias may persist even further given the lack of resources to stay informed in rural areas.

COVID-19 Impact on 2021 Election

As with many worldly events, the global pandemic has impacted Uganda’s parliamentary general election. To keep Ugandans safe from COVID-19, President Museveni has enforced “scientific elections.” Ultimately, Uganda’s 2021 elections will be almost entirely virtual. Citizens will vote for their leaders through radios, TV and other social media sites. This is the currently proposed safest way to endure an election, as large gatherings are not permitted.

While many recognize the importance of social distancing, Ugandans are skeptical about the election’s validity. Specifically, Ugandan politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, stated his concerns regarding a scientific election. According to The Observer, Kyagulanyi feels as though normal elections can be held as many other countries have done so safely. As of June 2020, Uganda saw less than 1,000 COVID-19 cases and no deaths. Politicians and citizens alike feel as though a scientific election is unnesscary at this time.

Concerns for a Scientific Election

Utilizing technology for something as important as a general election is inevitably accompanied by questions of the security and validity of the results. In a 2018 article, it mentions the incorporation of technology is done so mostly on the basis of “the fetishization of technology rather than by rigorous assessment of their effectiveness.” Considering the years of opposition against President Museveni and the desire to utilize technology despite effectiveness, perhaps enforcing a scientific election is another mode of creating bias within rural areas.

Senior research fellow Joseph Mukasa Ngubwagye of Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) emphasizes Uganda’s relatively minimal Coronavirus cases. In his own opinion, he believes that the Ugandan election may be executed as normal via masks and social distancing. Ngubwagye’s skepticism corresponds with many Ugandans, especially considering President Museveni’s history of public opposition.

COVID-19 has impacted politics across the globe. With the years of political anger that Ugandans have faced, a 2021 scientific election has proved to only further ignite frustration. Navigating an election during a global pandemic is difficult. However, Uganda may continue to see civilian unrest due to the history of bias. There still is time, though, to reroute the direction of the election year and give the voices back to Ugandans.

Anna Hoban

Photo: Flickr