Bulome village in the mountains of Bududa is only 130 kilometres from Agaria Island in the steamy rice fields around Lake Nyaguo. In Uganda, a short distance means different languages, different cultures and different climatic conditions, yet the challenges of reducing poverty in places of natural abundance remain the same: lack of capital investment, individual cropping and exploitation by middlemen and money lenders.
In Bulome, our partner Busiliwa Junior School has founded Women of Hope, a female cooperative of 60 Bagisu subsistence farmers to improve production, establish a savings and loan scheme, develop income generation and contribute to school nutrition and fees.
In Agaria, Teso rice farmers have elected to develop a communal approach to rice production to secure better prices at harvest time. Increased income will support small-scale husbandry for vulnerable families. Long-term plans include a community-owned rice mill and tractor.
Change happens when people organise to find sustainable local solutions to poverty. To strengthen their communities, the farmers of Bulome and Agaria need capital to establish low-interest revolving funds to meet production costs, manage household finances, and defend against seasonal shortages. Keeping money circulating in the community is the first step towards self-sufficiency, protecting people from debt and exploitation.