Civil Society Leaders Learn from a community Immersion at Kikandwa Environmental Association in Central Uganda.

Published By UNNGOF |  February 11, 2015

Uganda is said to have over 10,000 NGOs registered yet most are allegedly non-operational alias “brief case organisations.” Whereas many Local Governments have criticised NGOs in rural areas for not performing, Kikandwa Environmental Association (KEA) set itself apart. Upon entry into Kikandwa town, KEA is praised, even by the sub-county leadership, for their work towards improving livelihoods of citizens in the area. KEA envisions an improved environment and livelihoods for sustainable development.

For the last 16 years, KEA has grown as an organisation that reaches 8 villages in Bbambula Parish moving up from serving one initial village, Kasejjere, where their head office is located. They rose from a Community Based Organisation that had individual members alone, to a District and semi-national organisation that has both individual and group membership.

With such a background of achievements and growth, the Uganda National NGO Forum organized a Civil Society Leaders’ Immersion that brought together 20 Civil Society Leaders to be part of a community immersion in Kasejjere, Bbambula Parish in Kikandwa Mityana District. The immersion offered a platform for leaders to learn from and share with the community and appreciate the challenges that the local NGOs/CBOs face in working with the people, strengths, resilience and wisdom to initiate and manage livelihood initiatives.

Leaders were hosted to 10 KEA member homes and interacted with the household on innovations they’ve taken to adapt to climate change and food insecurity in the village. Families shared meals and backgrounds to their growth, all of which was attributed to support and foundation laid by KEA. Leaders also toured KEA’s planted forest, reached Lukuga Forest reserve by NFA as well as the supermarket garden which is practising mixed cropping in agricultural terms.

From the two day interaction, leaders appreciated the vital role of ICT in promoting agriculture and protection of the environment, the impact of educating and sensitising the community about food security and the need to preserve forest cover as well as the aspect of gender mainstreaming in community work.

The community in Kasejjere, served by KEA, has taken a personal initiative to restore the area forest cover through the half + half 1,000 acre forest project by planting trees on private land. So far 30 acres of the targeted 1,000 are owned by individual farmers in Mityana District.

Additionally, KEA spearheaded advocacy for replanting of Lukuga Forest Reserve. The forest was planted in 1966 but was cut down during the period of 1997 to 2003 and the trees sold for wood and charcoal. However in 2004 the reserve was replanted by National Forestry Authority (NFA) thus replenishing forest cover in the area.

CSO leaders were amazed by the different innovative activities in Kasejjere, with the most outstanding being Ms. Margaret Nabatanzi who mints money out of amaranthus seeds. She told her story on how she threshes the seeds from the plant, roasts them and grinds to make flour. Out of the seeds she makes edible snacks with salt while others have honey. The flour is used for porridge, cake and cookie baking and also added to juice for amaranthus nutrients. Many attested to the enriching nutrients in amaranthus products and praised Ms. Nabatanzi for the hard work.

Additionally, through KEA members started a primary school, KEA Green Hill Education Centre with semi-permanent structures which requires over UGX 50 million for better structures and furniture; it started construction of a Health Centre II to reduce on the difficulties encountered while trying to access the nearest health centres that are 7km from the Kasejjere.

Mr. Alfred Nuamanya, Head of Programs UNNGOF, appreciated KEA members for their efforts in fighting climate change by engaging in activities such as re-afforestation that is helping to maintain moisture levels and supply oxygen into the atmosphere.

The Community members of Kasejjere appreciated UNNGOF for leading CSO leaders to their humble village, sleeping and dinning at the various humble abodes. They were hopeful that the limelight KEA has shone upon their works is going to take them to greater heights.