Photo of the Day: Water Access

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A boy pushes a wheelbarrow loaded with jerry cans full of water in Western Uganda.

Water scarcity or lack of safe drinking water is one of the world’s leading problems affecting more than 1.1 billion people globally; meaning that one in every six people lacks access to safe drinking water- UNICEF

Mabira Forest’s ‘Tiny’ Generation

Mabira Forest is one of the last remaining rain forests and biggest in Central Uganda, Located only 54km along the Kampala – Nairobi highway covers a total area of 306 sq km.018

It has been protected as Mabira Forest Reserve since 1932. It is home for many endangered species like the primate lophocebus Ugandae

It has an enormous biodiversity comprising 315 bird species, 312 tree species, 218 species of butterflies, 97 species of moths, 40 species of small mammals including the red – tailed monkeys, vervets, grey-cheeked mangabeys and many nocturnal animals.

I visited the forest yesterday-my third visit overall. Though brief, I was mainly interested in documenting the little beauties that is often never seen or ignored by visitors. 02

Beyond the enormous tree cover and beautiful canopy, there’s a whole world different from what most people, even the most observant are able to see. Allow me call them, the world of skinnies, or ‘tinies’.

Follow the link, “Getting Cozy With Mabira Forest” to view images i shot during my earlier visit.

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The Pain of Delivering a Life

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In the middle of our formal introductions, a midwife rushes, apologizing for ‘gate –crushing’ our meeting.

“Sr. Rosemary, we have an emergency. An expectant woman walking here to deliver has developed labour pains in the bush and can no longer walk the rest of the journey. So we have to go and evacuate her immediately.”02

“Natalina Natiyan , a first time mother got labour pains half way her journey to Nadunget Health Centre III, Moroto district. Midwives from Nadunget HCIII drove to pick her after failing to complete the 11km walk, when they were notified by a relative who ran ahead. She eventually delivered a baby boy an hour later.”

 

“Oh my,” Sr. Rosemary reacts denoting some kind of hitch.

In normal circumstances, I would have expected her to simply authorize that the ambulance depart straightway.

“Do you have a car?” Sr. Rosemary asks me. “Yes, it’s packed outside.” I curiously reply her.

“Am afraid we shall have to inconvenience you for a little while and use that car to bring in this mother quickly before she gives birth unattended to in the bush.”06

“Natalina Natiyan, got some energy to walk after she got labour pains half way her journey to Nadunget Health Centre III, Moroto district. Midwives from Nadunget HCIII (Sr. Rosemary Napeyok in white) drove to pick her after failing to complete the 11km walk, when they were notified by a relative who ran ahead. She eventually delivered a baby boy an hour later.”

 

Now was not a time to ask silly questions. I duly obliged with another “yes” for an answer and off we set off for a combined 20km drive.

“You know we have an ambulance provided with the support of UNFPA but we have no fulltime driver,” Sr. Rosemary voluntarily tells me why she had to make such an abrupt request.

“We have had so many such emergency cases but without a driver, we have had to either improvise or look for volunteers to drive during such specific emergencies,” she explains further as we negotiated through the flat arid Karamoja landscape.

“UNFPA has done us an unbelievable favour by providing us with an ambulance. We now call upon government to get for us a fulltime driver,” Sr. Rosemary makes her plea.

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“Natalina Natiyan is admitted at Nadunget Health Centre III, Moroto district. She got labour pains halfway her journey to Nadunget Health Centre IV, Moroto district. Midwives from Nadunget HCIII drove to pick her after failing to complete the 11km walk, when a relative who ran ahead notified them. She eventually delivered a baby boy an hour later.”

 

In the bumpy ride, she tells me of the challenges of working in a remote region as Karamoja.

“This place is so cut off that service delivery becomes a problem. Making calls is a problem. Transportation in this region is a problem. The people here are cultural rigid in that accessing them with health services also faces challenges. There is also insecurity in really remote areas that we just cannot access. There are no roads and many others. There are so many problems.”

“There she is, there she is,” a second midwife suddenly interrupts our conversation, alerting us of Natalina Natiyan, a first time expectancy. We pullover and Sr. Rosemary rushes to check on Natiyan.

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” A relative takes care of Natalina Natiyan after giving birth to a baby boy. She got labour pains halfway her journey to Nadunget Health Centre III, Moroto district. Midwives from Nadunget HCIII drove to pick her after failing to complete the 11km walk, when a relative who ran ahead notified them. She eventually delivered a baby boy an hour later.”

“She’s really close but I think she can make to the hospital,” Sr. Rosemary tells me after a quick examination.

The midwives gently usher in the now screaming Natiyan into the back passenger seat.

“Driver, if we are to make it, you will have to drive a lot faster,” Sr. Rosemary tells the driver as she retreats to engaging Natiyan with a conversation of how she’s feeling, what she’s feeling, what she should do, what she should do just to distract her from attempting to push.nn

“Sr. Rosemary Napeyok, the In-Charge midwife at Nadunget Health Centre III, Moroto district walks through the Postnatal Ward of the health centre after helping deliver Natalina Natiyan.”

In no time, we were at Nadunget Health Centre III and the midwives supported her straight to the already set delivery beds.

“She has no complications and the baby is positioned well. She should be able to give birth within the hour.” Sr. Rosemary tells me as I voluntarily left the delivery ward.08

Thirty minutes later Natalina Natiyan, had a cause to celebrate. After 9 long months, she finally is a mother. A strong mother to a baby boy.

Natiyans story is one of many I encountered while shooting a photo documentary – “Investing in People” for UNFPA Uganda.

Below are a selection of images shot in seven other districts of Kanungu, Mubende, Kaabong, Kotido, Oyam, Katakwi and Yumbe  relating to reproductive health, gender based violence, teenage pregnancies,  maternal health and HIV/AIDS among others.

09An Out-of-School teen attends a reproductive health class at the Friendly Youth Corner (YFC) of Kaabong Referral Hospital. The different activities conducted at the corner have helped keep youth away from crime, reduced abortion and has enormously increased issues surrounding reproductive health according to the incharge of the YFC.

10An expectant mother waits to deliver at the Kanungu HC IV maternity ward. ALL the maternity and baby beds were supplied by UNFPA in partnership with the Ugandan government. Supply of free Mama Kits have also increased numbers of mothers willing to give birth at the Health facility.

11A midwife speaks to an expectant teenager attending antenatal classes at Aketa Health Centre III. Supply of free Mama Kits has increased numbers of mothers willing to give birth at the Health facility. Village Health Teams (VHTs) have also played a crucial part in educating rural communities on the importance of giving birth in health facilities.

12Expectant women in Aketa, just like most of others in rural Uganda have to walk for tens of kilometres to access health services- in this case, antennal classes. Supply of free Mama Kits has increased numbers of mothers willing to give birth at the Health facility. VHTs have also played a crucial part in educating rural communities on the importance of giving birth in health facilities.

ALL IMAGES ARE COPYRIGHTED TO UNFPA UGANDA. NO IMAGE MAY BE DOWNLOADED OR COPIED WITHOUT CONSENT OF EITHER UNFPA UGANDA/ GLOBAL OR EDWARD ECHWALU. Thank You.

Gang Fishing in Teso

Gang Fishing is a cultural practice in Teso where families, neighbours and villages come together to fish in the large swamps.

01The fishing tools are mainly two. Locally made spears and specially curved baskets.

Throughout generations, this practice was meant to unite people through combined efforts of catching fish. The exploits were largely for subsistence consumption but has gradually taken a commercial step in the recent years.03

It usually happens when the dry season is taking shape where swamps are shallow and the water levels are below the knee to prevent drowning and also to reduce the surface area for fish.

025With large numbers of people stamping on the water to a near muddy state, visibility under water reduces for the fish, limiting their movements. The muddy water also traps out air from underneath forcing the fish to float to the surface for fresh air, making easy for them to be trapped by baskets.

 

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Fish retreats to the shoreline once the water has been intruded with gangs of locals. Here, a woman is attempting to trap fish at the shoreline using her fishing net-basket made of locally materials.

011The more numbers, the better the chances of catching fish. Your next fish depends on collaboration. Confuse the fish and then trap them into the baskets or simply catch them with your hands-whichever is easier. The two ladies here seem to be enjoying every second of their team effort- even throwing in some smiles along the line of duty.

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A shadow of a woman is cast on the muddy waters. The composition of the gang is very much a mixer of both men and women. Some families come along with everyone-who cannot be swallowed in the shallow waters.

HOW IT WORKS:

A fish’s eye is sometimes comparable to humans. Though fish has a comparably stronger adaptation in low light, gang fishing aims at reducing visibility, increase the amount of debris in the water to prevent an easy swim for fish and also polluting the water.08

When hundreds of people have facilitated these conditions, the different fish species will slowly come to the surface at intervals to catch fresh air. In this first illustrative picture, the Kedi George takes sneaking steps, scanning the water of any fish floating on the surface.019

He identifies the target, positions the locally made triangular fishing tool at a higher level, preferably above the fish in order to limit the fish’s vision. The fish in this shallow swamps do not have aerial visual advantage.  Look at how calm George approaches his target. The water remains calm. That is very important in order not to scare away the fish. 018

And a splash of water debris goes flying in the air as the fish is trapped. Yes, it looks like a catch.  However look at his position. He remains a step or two away from what I would like to call, the fish trap zone. He pushes the trapping tool further down the surface of the water to prevent fish from slipping through underneath.015

The fish, now trapped is in a state panic and stress. It knocks the walls of the fishing tool vigorously in an attempt to escape. But no, its trapped. And that is how George gets to know whether he managed to trap it or not. 04

Sometimes, even without the alert the fisherman gets from the fish attempting to escape, he checks anyway. And also some fish species are small to exert noticeable force on the fish tool. And after hours and hours of trampling on the water, some fish remain weak and vulnerable and thus may not make a rush dash as others.017

And it’s a catch. With beaming face, he successfully traps one. Seemingly small, he is happy anyway. Catching immature fish was initially forbidden and clan heads would punish any one found. Today though, the cohesion is barely existent. Clan heads no longer wield as much power as they did decades ago allowing more random fishing unabated. 06

“Today, has been a good day,” Kedi George tells me in his native local Ateso language. “I wonder where the fish hides because sometimes it can be frustrating. I can go home now.” Looking at his greased-like polythene bag, he indeed got something. “We are very poor.” He continues. “This is the only few times my family gets to change diet”. 05

Life is full of contrasts. On one hand, a blossoming flower survives hundreds of pounding steps from families who indiscriminately search for fish, catching or killing anything on their way. Except dirty splashes of water on its shoulders, the flower survives for another. BESIDES the flower is a lifeless fish. Dead out of consistent invasion of its territory, its home by ruthless humans who will stop at nothing to have fish on their table meals.09

A quick snack of raw cassava is what most of these families eat during long hours of fishing. Kedi George (in the background) together with a family member  re-energizes with a bite of cassava after an exhaustive day.  020

 

George Kedi, can now ride his bicycle home-in Wera, some 15km away from the fishing swamp. His other family members composed of mostly women, will walk that stretch. It’s a normal walking distance for most of the people. Another day gone. Another water family reunion made. The tradition of gang fishing lives on. B88K7104

Why It Pays to Be Born in Kampala

The World Bank has this week launched a report; “Inclusion Matters, The Foundation for Shared Prosperity”, the very first of its kind to be launch in Africa. The report seeks to embrace humanity with the basic social, economic and political policies.

In a nutshell, the report shows barriers that prevent people from participating in their nations political, economic and social life such as people with disabilities, women and LGBTs.World Bank-3

What does social inclusion mean? The report defines it as “ The Process of improving ability, opportunity and dignity of people, disadvantaged on the basis of their identity, to take part in society.”

The report couldn’t have come at a better time, one week after, Oxfam reported that a combined wealth of 85 of the worlds’ richest people are valued at equivalent of 3.5 billion people globally combined.

This report paints a bold picture of the status of inequality that exists in Uganda today where few people continue to limited access to markets, favorable tax heavens, gender disparities and financial muscle among others.World Bank -2

“This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems,” the Oxfam report noted.

Uganda Case Study:

Despite Uganda’s sustained economic growth average of 6% annually over the past 15 years, social economic inclusion across the country remains greatly imbalanced from region to region.

What does inclusion mean to an ordinary Ugandan?.I will use the report diagram to illustrate one of the most important social benefits in not just Uganda but the world- Electricity.World Bank

Uganda’s power sector is suffering from a shortage of generating capacity due to prolonged drought, inadequate investment in least cost generation capacity and a relatively high load growth. The power deficits resulted in massive electricity rationing according to Uganda’s Ministry of Gender and Economic Development.

Statistics from the Uganda demographic and health survey 2011 shows that access to electricity strongly varies by ethnicity.

In Uganda for instance where electricity coverage is low in general, almost half the Baganda (largest tribe in Uganda) reported to having electricity, but less than 5% of the Karamojong did.World Bank-4

What explains this? Karamoja region is one of the least developed regions in the country with a limping infrastructure. The region is still recovering from prolonged decades of ethnic conflict, compounded by cattle rustling that have rendered her inaccessible for social services.

On the other hand, Buganda region has enjoyed relative peace for decades, booming economic activity, a growing industrialization and a geographical proximity to the capital, Kampala.

The report further illustrates that social exclusion in water insecurity, is highest among the Langi, Iteso and Alur, with the Bakiga, Munyankole and Batoro having the least experiences of water insecurity.

Some of these social imbalances according to retired Rt Rev. Zac Niringiye, now social activist have been in existence for decades.

World Bank-7“The history of this social, economic and political development has been that of exclusion,” Rt. Rev. Zac Niringiye lamented during the launch of the report. “The trend has not been one that seeks inclusion and in a way, has been deliberate.”

Reports such as these are only important if their release influence the world of research, policies, programs and projects.

‘Little known’ tourism treasures in eastern Uganda

Well, lets start it this way.

“Uganda, was declared” Best Tourist Destination 2012” by Lonely Planet, the Leading and largest travel guide book and digital media publisher in the world.”UNDP-1

“NIGHT FISHING on Lake Victoria. For generations, people on the shores of Lake Victoria in East Africa have been using kerosene lamps for night fishing according to Wisions. The fishermen begin work at 6pm in the evening and finish at 6am in the morning braving the long cold nights.

“Kidepo Valley National Park has been voted the third best tourist attraction on the African continent by CNN Travel 2013.”

“Uganda was declared Africa’s preferred Birding Destination in 2013 by Africa Bird Club swelling with 1050 bird species- more than three-quarters of all the birds ever recorded in sub-Saharan Africa.”UNDP-2

“World War II grave yard in Jinja”. The Daily Monitor in a recent article describes the cemetery as a “Well kept “piece” of England in Uganda. The Monitor further states; The place was meant for Black Africans, who had served with the King’s African Rifles (KAR) and died in the course of defending the interests of Great Britain during the two World Wars. It, however, currently holds, along with the KAR members, the remains of Europeans. The majority of the remains here are of those who died in the Second World War.

Wait, then there’s the Mountain Gorilla’s.  We are blessed with having the highest number of these rare creatures in the world.

The above are among the first web search results that loaded on my screen on click searching, “top tourist destinations in Uganda.”

Of course every country is synonymous with some kind of identity- good or bad- however, that usually represents a very thin and an unjust reflection of that entire country.UNDP-3

“The Kintu Shrine”…Kintu is a famous ancestral story taught in Ugandan schools. The family exists.” Kintu is a mythological figure who appears in a legend of the Baganda of Uganda as a creation myth . According to this legend, Kintu was the first person on earth , the father of all people.

When you talk about Safaris, Kenya comes to the fore. Kilimanjaro is synonymous with Tanzania; The Pyramids is easily identified with Egypt and many more.

For the case of Uganda, it’s not just about Gorillas and Bird watching, Kidepo, this country is littered with an abundance of cultural riches.

Sadly, many of these places remain untapped, unattended too and a continuous cycle of our rotting history continues to wane without a care.UNDP-5

“Acting Busoga Kyabazinga (KING)  Isabalangira Daudi Kaunhe Wakooli posing for a picture at the balcony of the Kingdom’s palace in Jinja. The palace is currently closed due to ongoing hereditary wrangles.”

There is a faint ray of hope though. The UNDP has embarked on creating a tourism catalogue of Uganda with greater emphasis laid on ‘little known’ tourism spots. In this post are some of those destinations i visited in eastern Uganda.UNDP-6“The site where the first Vice President of Uganda, William Wilberforce Kadhumbula Nadiope III was buried in Kamuli.”

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“Khauka cave in Wanale Ridge is spectacular. Historically used for shelter and livestock.”

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“A vintage point in Buyende from where River Nile meets Lake Kyoga.” Its at this point that you can clearly see the border points of five districts of Nakasongola, Kaberamaido, Lira, Buyende and Palisa.”

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“A great great great great grandchild of Semei Kakungulu at home in Mbale. Kakungulu was a warrior and statesman of the powerful Baganda tribe. During the 1880s he was converted to Christianity by a Protestant missionary who taught him how to read the Bible in Swahili. Because he commanded many warriors, because of his connections to the Bugandan court and because he was a Protestant, the British gave Kakungulu their support”

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UNDP-10Wanale Ridge.One of the many spectacular Mt. Elgon ranges from where you can have a 360 view of the neighbouring lands-plus Kenya.

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Sisiyi Falls: The New Vision called it; The “Magnificent Spectacle” What more can i say? The New vision further adds…”It stands out from a distance as you take the highway from Mbale to the districts of Sironko, Bulambuli, Kapchorwa and Moroto. The apparent white patch running down the side of the rock outshines a luscious green backdrop covering this section of the Elgon mountains.”

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The East African Civil Aviation Academy or Soroti Flying School: Millions of Ugandans to date are still ignorant of the institutions’ existence. The East African Civil Aviation Academy was established in 1971 to train pilots and aircraft Engineers for the East African market. With technical assistance from the UNDP-ICAO training programmes were appraised, equipment provided and the academy was linked to other institutions outside East Africa. Soroti Flying School is also credited for training Rwanda’s first female pilot.

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NYERO ROCK PAINTINGS: A guide explains the origin of the Nyero rock paintings. According to UNESCO, The Nyero Rockpaintings site is a three tiered rockshelters with primitive paintings on their inner surfaces. Archaeologically the site is of a Later Iron Age period. The makers of the paintings cannot be traced but the ingenuity in which they were painted demonstrates a high degree of appreciation of their aesthetic values.

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A boy rides a bicycle next to the Nyero Rocks in Kumi

PHOTO COPYRIGHT: UNDP UGANDA and EDWARD ECHWALU.

PHOTO OF THE DAY: Viewing Solar Eclipse in Uganda

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SOLAR ECLIPSE: Yiga Martin views the hybrid solar eclipse in Kamwokya, a Kampala suburb, with film roles (negatives) on November 3rd, 2013. Uganda was identified as the best location in the World to view the eclipse with the following places specifically giving the vantage point- Pakwach , Arua, Soroti, Masindi and Gulu. The Solar Eclipse is an extra ordinary geographical phenomenon of the movement of the solar system; the moon shields the sun and creates a temporary darkness.

Self Portraits at Robben Island

It sucks. I am talking about selfies.

A selfie is popularly defined as a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone.

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“My first frustration. The focus was meant for me not the rocks at the foreground. Eventually, i got it the right settings after three attempts…I used the 10 -sec self timer.”

Here’s my brief story. I suddenly found myself on a trip to one of the most sought after “pilgrimage” destinations in Africa- Robben Island, in Cape Town.

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“Our tour guide for the day, Kolekile Mahlahla. He was himself a political prisoner at Robben Island between 1980 and 1982. He was explaining to us how letters were reviewed before handing them over to the inmates. If a letter had political lines, the prison warders would cut those lines out in order to further kill the spirits of those fighting the apartheid regime.”

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“Inside Prison Cell 466/64 where Former South African President, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years.”

The island is known for having been the place where senior African National Congress (ANC) leaders, especially Nelson Mandela, fighting against the brutal apartheid regime were imprisoned. It is now a UNESCO site 11

“Inside BLOCK B where the elite political prisoners were held. Former South African President, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in a cell inside this corridor.The prison was divided into several blocks with “Block D” housing the least ranked political prisoners.”

With the popularity of Nelson Mandel across the world, a picture is this island would always be priceless.

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“In the background is Cape Town. The waves were moderate. The sea was calm. A perfect condition to explore Robben Island.”

And as we ventured into the brief 7km Ferry ride across the calm seawaters, I looked forward taking pictures at infamous maximum-security prison, a visit to the Murrays bay harbor, and possibly an interaction with a former prisoner.1

“This space is where the prisoners used to mingle. Our guide, Kolekile Mahlahla, told us that, this is where the book; “The Long Walk to Freedom” by President Nelson Mandela was written. And because it was illegal to write, he used to hide the notes at the extreme right hand corner. “

And finally, I was there! Right in the middle of one of the world’s most poignant history, yet, a refreshing environment that reminded me of the price people have had to pay for the price of freedom.3

“Another self portrait of myself in that space where “The Long Walk to Freedom” was written. “

While normally I am the guy behind the camera, that day, I wanted to be the guy in front of the camera. Remember, this was a holiday of sorts not an assignment.

8Everybody on this trip wanted to be in front of the camera. Even the kindest of requests for just a photo from the person next was bound to make a very uncomfortable reaction.

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“A general view inside Robben Island Maximum Security Prison. According to statistics by the Robben Island Museum, 352 229 people visited the island in 2011/2012.”

I resorted to selfies. There were two ways this had to be done. One was for me to stretch either my left or right arm with a finger on the trigger, and the camera held in reverse. And snap!2

Secondly was to set a 10-sec timer on my camera where I would then run in front and pose for the shutter to click.

Well, I tried both. An arms stretch turned out to be the preferred option because, the tour guide was moving at a terrific speed that I did not intend to get lost along the way.10

The main entrance to the Robben Island Maximum Security Prison. Former South African President, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years behind bars in this prison.

I was delighted to be part of a very important segment of African history and making “The Long Walk to Freedom” at the end of my tour.

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“A picture of the last political prisoners to leave the then dreaded Robben Island Security Prison in May 1991.  The last common-law (not political) prisoners, who had always been held separately from political prisoners, left the island in 1996.”

THANK YOU NOTE:

THANK YOU to every single person who contributed towards getting me back on my feet. With the help of Maureen Agena , we collected UGX: 5.850.000. (USD 2,315) -Online+Mobile Money+Hand Deliveries+MoneyGram etc.

I have finally managed to acquire some cameras to resume work. For those who requested for Perks, during the crowd funding, deliveries will be between the months of November and January.

Apwoyo (Thank you).

Food Across Borders: Improving Food Security through Improved Agricultural Value Chains in East Africa

I spent the last two months traversing East Africa documenting a USAID farmer project called “CNFA Farmer to Farmer.”

Farmer to Farmer works to generate rapid sustained economic growth in the agricultural sector through short-term technical assistance provided by US volunteers. USAID-001

The program provides farmers’ associations, cooperatives and agribusinesses with the opportunity to benefit from free US consulting to improve performance, providing hosts with a professional approach to technical and financial issues.

My responsibility throughout Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania was to document the successes of the program through a multimedia project, through the use of photography, captions and testimonials.

Herein are samples of what the farmers thought.

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Name: Ms. Biira Ritah Kapuru

Enterprise: Community Agriculture Teacher- Uganda Institute of Organic Farming

District: Kasese

Country: Uganda

“The farmers were ignorant at first about irrigation but with our trainings we acquired from CNFA, most of them now know the basics of how to irrigate their plants.”

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Name:                  Omben Abraham

Enterprise:          KIBIU Vegetable Growers Group (Secretary)

District:                 Arusha

Country:              Tanzania

Testimony:

“Prior to the CNFA training, I used to get 30kgs per acre on my tomatoes but today, I harvest about 55kg because of one additive; efficient production.”

“I’ve managed to cajole close to 75% of other farmers in my group to keep financial records so as to know whether they are making profits or losses to aide proper planning.”

“Record keeping training has encouraged transparency among group members as accountability through financial records are clear and is accessible to any member of the group. Thanks to CNFA’s training on financial management.”

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Enterprise:          Mwea Rice Growers Cooperative Society

Town:                   Thika

Testimony:

“More farmers now have confidence in our cooperative due to the professionally manner it’s handled. As a result we attracted 441 more farmers who supplied us with over 1 million kilograms of rice to add onto the 2.4 million we normally receive.”USAID-005

Name: Mrs. Katusabe Janet

Age: 39

Enterprise: Kitchen Garden

District: Masindi

Country: Uganda

“Kitchen Gardening has been a life saver for me and my two daughters, Kawa Sarah and Nyakato Janet who are HIV/AIDS positive. The Kitchen garden knowledge I got as a result of a training conducted by someone from CNFA has enabled me to grow all the nutritional crops that have provide immunity from other diseases that always had them bed ridden. “USAID-006

Name:                  Paschali Axweso Amnaay (Chairman)

Age:                       33

Enterprise:          Mahande Rice Irrigation Scheme (Umoja Wa Kulima)

District:                 MTO-WA-MBU

Country:              Tanzania

Testimony:

“As a farmer, CNFA trainings has enabled me to educate my young brother, education my children and bought myself other farms after shifting to modern ways of cultivating rice.”

“I have trained many farmers who were not fortunate to attend the CNFA training and many have come back testifying to me how successful they have become. For me, that’s a bumper harvest.”USAID-007

Enterprise:          Mwea Rice Growers Cooperative Society

Town:                   Thika

Country:              Kenya

Testimony:

“More farmers now have confidence in our cooperative due to the professionally manner it’s handled. As a result we attracted 441 more farmers who supplied us with over 1 million kilograms of rice to add onto the 2.4 million we normally receive.”USAID-008

Name:                  Musangi Kilonzi

Age:                       62

Enterprise:          Mango

County:                Kitui

Country:              Kenya

Testimony:

“Since I was born, I did not ever think mangoes could help me generate income, going to the extent of giving them out to brokers from Nairobi for free. It all changed when CNFA came around.”

“Today, I am more inquisitive about fruits in general. CNFA has helped me be more aware of some of the treasures that lie around idle when I could make money out of them.”

“I’m more interested in mangoes because at my age, I would have to grow them every season. Besides, I can just harvest them from the vicinity of my compound.”USAID-009

Name: Rev. Jackson Madoba

Age: 50

Enterprise: Cassava

District: Busia

Country: Uganda

“I have started practicing agriculture as a business after benefiting from CNFA training. Before the training, I was not generating much income from my harvests, being mainly for home consumption.”

“My family diet has also improved because now I can grow a variety of crops and also buy those foods that I don’t have from the market after selling my Cassava. Without money, my diet would have been limited.”

“I need a better understanding on how to grow crops all season long, even during the dry season. Irrigation training by CNFA in the future would thus help me achieve this dream.”USAID-010

Name:                  Lota Charles

Age:                       53

Enterprise:          Midawe Vegetable Group

District:                 Bangata

Country:               Tanzania

Testimony:

“Irrigation training enabled me to diversify crops from local crops to high value crops like peas, fresh beans among others. This increased my output, resulting into increased profits that helped me build a home for my family and buy an exotic cow.”USAID-011

Enterprise:          Dryland Seed Limited (Managing Director).

County:                Machakos

Testimony:

“We have benefited from as many as five consultants from CNFA ranging from production, software usage, writing business plans and seed processing as well as, technical assistance training on operations management.”USAID-012

Name:                  Susan Chesambu

Age:                       75 Years

Host:                     Kapchorwa Commercial Farmers Association (KACOFA)

Enterprise:          Farmer (Coffee)

District:                 Kapchorwa

Country:              Uganda

“The CNFA extended to me modern ways of growing coffee. They taught me how to choose coffee seeds, how to space, harvest and handle post harvest coffee seeds. This has resulted into clean coffee with improved quality.”

“I attribute the completion of my house as a direct beneficiary from the CNFA trainings which tremendously increased by coffee sales as a result of practicing modern coffee growing.”USAID-013

Name: Mwine Fred

Enterprise:                Cattle Rearing

District:                      Mbarara

Country:                    Uganda

Testimonial:

“I have since stopped depending on natural grass in grazing my cattle after the CNFA training. Today, despite the weather challenges, I grow hey for my cattle.”

“The expertise training on how to prevent tick and the technicalities  of extra feeding of cattle with proper feeds which has eventually increased my total milk production from about 10litres to over 100 litres per day.”USAID-014

Country:                       Kenya

Enterprise:                    Molo Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC)

Molo Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC)  benefited from CNFA volunteer trainings on improvement of seed potato production at the lab.

The CNFA volunteer assistance helped ADC increase her green house capacity and yields, improved water quality in the green house, less contamination rates observed in the ADC Molo lab, better knowledge on visual virus symptoms from yields and improved involved by ADC staff in roqueing, that is removing diseased plants on a regular basis among others.USAID-015

Name:                  Ernest Lota Megeli (Chairman)

Age:                       53

Enterprise:          Midawe Vegetable Group

District:                 Bangata

Testimony:

“CNFA’s training on leadership made me realize a leader is supposed to guide those under his or her stewardship, encourage positivity, unify divisions and be tolerant.”

“And contrary to our strict traditional values, leadership is not supposed to discriminate according to gender or age.”

“During my leadership, I have managed to raise food production from 20 tons in 2009 per harvest to 113 tons in 2012/2013.”

“CNFA has been a life changer to people in Bangata. We realize, an investment in education is permanent and we thank CNFA for enlightening us and changing our lives for the better.”USAID-016

Meru Central Multipuporse Co-op Society Ltd

Country:                 Kenya

USAID-017

Name:                  Abdalah Sumaye (Finance Secretary)

Age:                       45

Enterprise:          GENDI Rural Cooperative Society

District:                 Babati, Manyara Region

Country:               Tanzania

Testimony:

“I wasn’t informed on how to keep records in an organization, however, after the CNFA training on financial management; I started keep neat financial records in files for the cooperative.”

“Keeping records has helped Gendi Cooperative Society analyze her performance from time to time on whether they are making profits or losses and also helped in creating tangible budgets for the running of the cooperative.”

“We have been able to easily access loans from financial institution to help our farmers because of our good financial management.” USAID-018

Name:                  Farmers

Enterprise:          Usomama Saccos Ltd

District:                 Masakta, Manyara Region

Testimony:

“Farmers belonging to Usomama Sacco bring their products by cow wagon for storage at Usomama Warehouses in Masakata town which can store 6000tons of farmers produce.”USAID-019

Name:                  Angelinia Michael Shirima

Age:                       42

Enterprise:          Mahande Rice Irrigation Scheme (Umoja Wa Kulima)

District:                 MTO-WA-MBU

Country:              Tanzania

Testimony:

“Before CNFA, I was not practicing line transplantation of rice choosing to randomly plant the rice. Today, I use the correct lining when transplanting rice from the nursery, measure the seed weight per unit area which has increase my production from 18 to 40 bags.”

“I now have the technical knowledge on when and how to apply fertilizers to my rice plantation. Before CNFA, I was applying fertilizers when the rice stalks had stared becoming yellow, today; I apply after a recommended standard of 30 days.”

“Rice growing has been my life. It has enabled me build for my family a new family home, pay school fees for my children and bought a bicycle to ease my movements while looking for market.”USAID-020

Name:                  Jessica Jairas (Vice Chairperson)

Age:                       54

Enterprise:          Usomama Saccos Ltd

District:                 Masakta, Manyara Region

Country:              Tanzania

Testimony:

“From the CNFA trainings, I have managed to reduce crop losses by having proper crop protection, proper post production handling and doing market research to sell to the best buyer.”

“CNFA motivated me to try the gray areas initially dominated by men and that was primarily through raising my self esteem.”

“Education has no limit. It’s a continuous process and if CNFA can come with more trainings, I would be utterly delighted not just for myself but my neighbors’, my community, and Sacco as a whole.”

Imagine losing your life time investment in a flash!!

Last week was one of the darkest in my life. And this is how an eventful and bright day suddenly went dark.

I was meant to travel to Gulu town, located about 400km north of Kampala, Uganda’s capital on Thursday morning to volunteer for a robotic training organized by my friends Solomon King and Sandra Washburn.P01

That morning, Taxi operators went on strike, protesting the increased operation fees. Transport in Kampala City was a mess. The over 5 million inhabitants of this city who primarily use public transport were held hostage. I was part of the statistic that day.P02

Sporadic riots were happening all over down town Kampala. Teargas was being fired from one side of town, bullets went off in the other. I was caught in between. For that reason, I didn’t travel. No one did.

I decided to take advantage of the situation and photographed a few exchanges between the protestors and the Uganda Police. It wasn’t for long. Because of the heavy luggage I had, I decided to jump on a motorbike, commonly known as Boda Boda and headed back home.P03

Later in the evening, I was back with my backpacks at Kisenyi Bus Terminal hoping to catch the second last bus to Gulu which departs at 7pm daily.

After being booked in a Homeland Bus seat 58, I squeezed myself into the back of the bus in preparation for my 6 hour night travel. Since a large number of people had not travelled whole day, the bus’ isle was chaotic with passengers, hawkers, touts, bus managers and ‘thieves’.P04

I was carrying three backpacks with a heavy tripod. The bags were as close to my heart as my life. There was some kind of mini stampede in the bus. My feet, was stamped on, my shoulders were knocked from one side to the other, but my camera bag was safe. At least for that while.P06

58 was an isle seat. My two backpacks were on my lap while the other was beside me. To allow the other two travelling passengers take their seats, I temporarily put my backpacks in the overhead baggage space.

In less than 10 seconds, before I could get back to my seat, I realize something was missing in the overhead luggage space. The most important backpack together with one other backpack was missing! Looking down the isle, my tripod too went missing. I climbed on bodies in a rush to check outside the bus, but it was too late. My life’s savings were all gone.P09

Distraught and confused, I disembarked the bus, sat on the dusty floor thinking about nothing in particular. Sorry was what the bus owners could offer. On the other hand close to Ushs. 40 million (USD 18.000) was stolen. And all they could say was sorry?P07

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 16-35mm f2.8, Canon 24-70mm f2.8, Canon 70-200mm f2.8, MacBook Pro 15 Inch were among the causalities.

P010

My livelihood and profession is dependent on taking pictures. It’s my hobby, my passion, my bread, my hope for today and tomorrow. Waking up the next day knowing I didn’t have what defined who I am, who I have become was a hard feeling to hide.P08When

Getting these cameras to Africa is a hustle. Affording them is even much more than a hustle. I saved every last penny over the past four years to invest in what I heartfully believe in. And for all this effort to be crushed in under a minute is mean. Out rightly unfair.P011

Thanks to friends who have encouraged me to move on. Friends who have constantly reminded me that my most important tool is safe in my eyes. They have gone on to create an account on Indiegogo Online Fundraising Platform “African Stories through Photography to source some funds to help me top up on my next gear. In Uganda, another set of friends have created a facebook page “Echwalu Photography Fundraisers” to source for more funds locally. The response from both has been amazingly high. Thank you.

For now, I remain unemployed.

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