Posts

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

Human Rights Violations in UgandaUganda has undergone notoriously gruesome human rights violations. From the terror of the Lord’s Resistance Army to government discrimination against LGBTI groups, the human rights violations Ugandans have experienced have been treacherous. The recent election caused turmoil for Ugandans as many claim the process was neither impartial nor free as it should have been.

President Yoweri Museveni was elected for yet another five-year term in February 2016, putting him in power for at least the next 30 years. The election process was claimed to have been obstructed by removing the freedoms of expression, assembly and association of citizens. Violations of these freedoms were carried out by security forces.

Government officials and police repeatedly tried to keep journalists and media outlets out of commission by using physical force or by shutting down entire operations. For example, soldiers from the special forces stopped a local television station from covering some campaign meetings of the opposing candidate, Dr. Kizza Besigye from the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). Furthermore, the Uganda Communications Commission blocked social media sites on election day for what they said was “national security reasons.” These violations prevented the flow of information and obstructed citizens’ rights to obtain valuable information.

The police repeatedly interrupted campaign rallies for Besigye by using force against protesters and even arresting Besigye himself, detaining him before releasing him with no charges laid. Police even opened fire on FDC supporters in Kampala, killing one and injuring many others. Throughout the election process, the police targeted FDC supporters and anyone associated with Besigye’s campaign.

Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are allowed in the country, they are not given an easy pass. The NGO Act, which went into effect in March of 2016, vaguely presents its policy, leaving room for interpretation as to how it can be applied. Several NGO offices were broken into last year and thieves took computers, internet servers, projectors and more. Although a committee was formed to investigate, no progress on the case has been made.

These human rights violations in Uganda should be a concern for the country, the continent of Africa, and the world. They showcase just how far people can go in mistreating those who disagree with or challenge them. Hopefully with time and continued help from NGOs, human rights violations can be significantly reduced in the country of Uganda.

Emily Arnold

Photo: Flickr

kampala_uganda_poverty
Uganda has been struggling for decades with issues of poverty and Kampala, its capital city, is no exception. The migration of residents from rural to urban areas has led to growing pockets of poverty in the capital since insufficient housing sends many to live on the streets. The poor of Kampala live in slums and nearly all citizens are unemployed. Most attain money by begging in the streets. With a population of 1,189,142 people in the city, access to clean and safe water is limited to 65 percent. The remaining 35 percent risk contamination and disease by getting water from highly contaminated sources.

Most of Uganda’s poor are the thousands of subsistence farmers who live in remote rural areas of the country. Lack of access to markets and technology has led several to abandon their villages and migrate to the city. Cities suck as Kampala present hope for those smallholder farmers who were unable to sustain their families. Kampala has been the destination for thousands and because of this, the city has been unable to provide for the masses of new residents. Inadequate sanitation in Kampala has increased incidences of waterborne diseases such as worm infestations and malaria. These issues drastically affect the economy of the residents throughout Kampala and increase the rate of poverty.

Research has shown that through implementation of a nationwide program that can help stabilize the situation of the poor, Uganda may be able to lower its poverty rates in the years to come. Uganda’s poverty level in 1992 was 56 percent and the goal to reduce it by half to 28 percent has already been achieved, since its current poverty level is 24.5 percent. Although the pace of poverty elimination in Kampala is slow, several programs such as the National Urban Policy (NUP) and the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) are being implemented to address the needs of thousands of rural and urban residents who are unable to produce a living.

Maybelline Martez

Sources: Monitor, Observer

ecoart-uganda_environmental_ruganzo_bruno_global_poverty_opt
Eco-art, also known as contemporary environmental art, is art that is concerned with local and global environmental situations. It strives to strengthen human relationships with the natural world by expressing the development of new, creative ways for humans to co-exist with nature.

In the context of Ugandan artist Ruganzu Bruno’s newly-constructed amusement park, eco-art takes on two purposes. The 30-year-old artist and community organizer found a way to handle Kampala’s Kireka neighborhood’s acute waste management problem while engaging and empowering children through the act of play. Using a variety of recycled materials collected by the community, Bruno and his team constructed this amusement park for the children living in Kampala’s congested slums. Completed last September, the eco-park contains a myriad of exciting structures that include recycled swings and life-size board games made from plastic bottles.

However, according to Bruno, the value in the amusement park comes not only from the park itself but also from the lessons it will continue to teach the people of Kireka for generations to come. In what Bruno hopes to be an important step toward sustainability, the children and parents were taught how to make repairs to the park during its construction. Bruno, who was orphaned as a child, places particular importance upon the positive impact on children’s education that the new project promises to keep bringing.

“The attention of children in class is improved; the number of children who are dropping out [is falling] because now they have something to keep them busy there,” Bruno says, adding that the project is helping students to express themselves.

Four years ago, when Bruno was still a student at the Kyambogo University Fine Arts School, the personal goals for his work evolved from mere self-expression to wanting to make a positive impact on his community. He teamed up with a few of his fellow eco-artists to create “The Hand That Speaks,” a gigantic structure made of recycled materials in the shape of a hand. This was the first of its kind in Kampala. It was intended to serve as a reminder of how human hands can impact the environment in negative and positive ways; the same hand that throws garbage on the ground can also collect it.

The next year, in 2010, Bruno founded Eco Art Uganda, a collective of artists dedicated to the promotion of environmental awareness within their communities. They focus on transforming any waste they find – from broken electronics to scrap metal – into functional art that inspires changes in attitudes toward the environment. In April of last year, Bruno was awarded the world’s first City 2.0 Award at the TEDx summit in Doha, Qatar for the eco-park project. Currently, he is using the $10,000 prize money to fund a loan program designed to help local eco-artists in Kireka. In a continuing effort to serve his community’s needs, the young artist’s goal is to recreate “as many as 100” new eco-parks in Uganda.

Bruno’s community work is just one example of how eco-art is helping to engage communities all over the world while also keeping them clean and litter-free. The functional form of art is a promising step toward alleviating two of the world’s biggest problems; the disenchantment of the developing world’s youth and the litter that surrounds them.

– Kathryn Cassibry

Source: CNN
Photo: Ruganzu Bruno