West Nile. The rural women groups in the region are to receive millions of money from the new funding by the government.
The women who usually carry few food items in baskets and basins with children tucked on their back as they toil in the dusty and muddy roads to far town areas while looking for survival, had remained in poverty for years.
They get up before dawn every day to cook and clean, draw water and carry wood. They mainly carry food items like Ovacados, sweet potatoes, banana, ground nuts and other fruits like mangoes, pawpaw and oranges in quest for household sustainability.
Some of the rural women heading to Arua town market with their goods. Photos by Okello
Before settling for the heinous journey, sometimes 20 kilometers to the town, they first till the fields and pull up weeds. When they are finished, they care for the sick and attend meetings where some bake bread-for pancakes which they leave to be sold at the roadside in the village. And still they don’t have enough to survive.
According to Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Nebbi is to receive Shs 305 million, Zombo Shs 219 million, Arua Shs 473 million, Arua Municipal Shs 84 million, Maracha Shs 189 million, Koboko Shs 174 million, Koboko Municipal Shs 148 million, Yumbe Shs 369 million, Moyo Shs 216 million and Adjumani Shs 283 million
Now the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social development, has launched a program, Uganda Women Enterprise Program (UWEP), targeting the poor women through a revolving fund. The UWEP Northern Region Program Officer, Maurine Apio, said: “We need the women to access funds in order to boost their trade and household income. The community development officers should not use their powers to misuse the funds because these are already vulnerable women groups.”
Maurine Apio speaking at the training in Arua.
During a training on Friday in Arua, Apio said many women especially in rural communities survives on petty businesses and so there was need to start the revolving funds where they can access up to about Shs 12.5 million for their economic activities.
The Focal Point Person for Zombo, Collins Pimer, said the program would be dogged by over-age women, flouting of procurement procedures and foreign nationals especially bordering Sub-counties. “We need to guard against corruption and irregularities like in the youth programs because some women groups may disobey the guidelines and we shall not see value for money,” she said.
In Owaffa in Terego in Arua, Jennifer Ajio, said: “Despite our meager resources, rural women here seem to have an inexhaustible entrepreneurial spirit. I get up and plough the fields and I work all day and all to buy soap, salt and clothes for my children.”
A woman heading to town with her banana.
The Project Manager, William Tumwine, said: “Once the women are educated on financial management, they can use these funds correctly. To avoid corruption, we are working with accountability agencies in order to avert misuse of funds.”
But UNDP says Uganda has made significant progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goal of halving the population living below the poverty line by 2015. Over the years, UNDP has supported Uganda in making significant strides in reducing poverty, with the population living below the poverty line reducing from 56 per cent to 24 per cent between 1992 and 2010 (NHDR 2010).