U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Deborah R. Malac and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Dr. Shannon Smith earlier this month visited a group of girls and young women participating in the... Read More
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Koome Island Demonstration Farm Helps Support Women and Families
A group of mothers from several of the Koome Islands of Uganda have come together with the support of the Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) to build and work a demonstration farm, a project meant to provide stability, teach vocational skills and bring additional income to this traditionally migratory and vulnerable population.
Through outreach efforts, MUWRP found out that most people who live on the islands believe the fishing industry is their only available source of income, but fishing leads men to move from one island to another following the fish, leaving the women to act as single mothers. MUWRP, a U.S. Military HIV Research Program affiliate in Uganda, wanted to engage these women in agriculture to give them another income source and allow them to settle in one place.
A group of 25 mothers who receive care from the program's ART clinic began the demonstration farm, opting to grow bananas and pineapples. Their communities provided labor for clearing the ground, planting and maintaining the garden; while MUWRPs contribution included procuring sackers, acquiring land from the council, providing technical assistance and facilitating a trainer to show the women some management and bookkeeping skills.
The farm group gained popularity and success, growing from 12 to 25 women and adding upland rice crops to the farm. Twelve additional households have been inspired to start their own small individual gardens. The stability and additional income have helped the women meet their basic needs, especially boosting the amount of money available for school fees that help their children stay in school.
The demonstration farm was part of MUWRP’s PEPFAR-funded OVC services, which aim to help orphans and vulnerable children. MUWRP has been working in the Mukono District that includes the Koome Islands since 2012.