In 2016, we set out to establish the types of interventions that improve the livelihoods of girls and women from rural villages in Itojo Sub-County, where Ruhanga parish is located and this programme is part of that broader strategy.
We worked in collaboration with the NGO Joy Goat Development to introduce a new breed of dairy goats into Ruhanga parish. A limited number of participants, in this instance widows who were struggling to get an income, received a 50% cross breed female dairy goat as a loan. The women had to care for the goat until it produced the first kid.
Once the first births were weaned, the offsprings were returned to LTHT and the women at that point were given sole ownership over the initial goat.
This goat then became an asset that the woman could use to;
generate income, support herself and her family through the continuous sale of the goat’s offspring,
the sale of goat’s milk or improve the nutritional intake of their family if they opt for personal consumption.
Female kids returned to LTHT, went to the next widow on the waiting list whilst the male goats were sold and the money was put back into the project.
We have distributed 18 offsprings and the adult female goats have had a second round of pregnancies. Goat milk was a new concept to this community, but children were open to trying it. We hope that adults will start drinking it too as it becomes part of the diet in this area.
The whole community benefited from the program by crossing breeding their local female goat with dairy male goats. The aim of this aspect of the project was to increase the genetic pool for future generations.
Two years on, the people of Itojo Sub-county have a clear understanding of the benefits of crossbreeding, the importance of good record keeping, identifying when a goat was on heat, the benefits of timely deworming treatments, etc. Each of the three bucks has had 75 offsprings and the number continues to grow.
New Kids on the block : As you will see from the photos above, we now have 7 kids (3 females & 4 males) as the goats started delivering in December. The icing on the cake thus far, is the birth last month of female twin kids by Maria’s goat. We do need more female kids as these are the ones we pass on to widows waiting in the queue for a goat of their own. The new round of distribution will be in July when the new borns are six months old. The selected widows have started work on goat shelters.
Milk production: Most of the women whose goats have delivered have access to at least 1 pint of milk every day. But some are not milking their goats at all such as Merida whose goat gave birth during the dry season and Maria whose goat had twins.
The other part of our program is crossbreeding. Through this program, everyone in the district is able to crossbreed their local goats with the three 100% pure diary bucks. The aim of this program is to create a new breed of goats.
The bucks have been busy,
Alejandro has four offsprings (3 females and 1 male) and mated 3 new females in February. The community is super impressed with the offsprings and have started spreading the word about the program in the nearby villages of Migorora, Kakiizi and Nyamuhani.
Force has mated 2 females so far and has 2 offsprings which are males.
Ronaldo has mated 2 females so far and has 1 offspring which is a female.
A word from our program manager
The widows are extremely happy with the program and have shared this with the local leaders as well as those in the community that are not yet part of this program
The women who have milk have different opinions: Lydia is enjoying it very much, Vairot says it is ok and Jovannis says it tastes different to the one from cows but is still drinking it.
Take up of the crossbreeding loan is still low in the villages of Rwentojo and Kytinda where Force and Ronaldo live. It would appear the communities there are not aware of the program we therefore need to run a program campaign
The kids are developing well with the exception of the male from Merida’s goat – it’s a 25% male which didn’t seem to get enough milk at the beginning of its life.
It seems half of the widows take their goats with them to the gardens so they’re on a semi-free range systems. Althoughthe50% goats can live like a local goat but it’s better to keep them in a zero grazing environment if possible to maximise the amount of milk they produce.
We are all looking forward to the day when more families can readily access milk as part of their diet.
It is International Women’s Day today and the question I am preoccupied with today is whether such days help ultra poor women in any meaningful ways. In the current times of hashtags the International Women’s Day has its own hashtag #IWD2017 or if you prefer #IWD17.
But are hashtags enough to effect the sort of change ultra poor women are looking for? Do such women get to see hashtags and social media memes?
Ultra poor women are said to
have no assets to generate their own income
engage in casual labour
and are poorly paid.
As far we are concerned here at LTHT, hashtags are not enough and International Women’s Day should mean more and be inclusive.
We have over the last year and half focused on providing ultra poor women with assess to generate their income. We believe that
“decent work is central to women’s #economicempowerment given its inherent importance to women’s well being and ability to advance in areas such as acquiring income and assets – ODI”
This has had an impact in the lives of women such as Night Barema who have managed to increase their income from £2.43 to £17 a month. You can read about Night’s story here
Today, women and girls in rural Uganda cannot access information and materials to manage their menstruation. It is International women’s Day 2017 and yet some school girls still use leaves during their periods, miss 2.6 days of school each month and women use rags. To that end we launched a menstrual hygiene program last year to change this but we still have a long way to go.
Widows and older women in rural Uganda are vulnerable to poor diet as they are almost always the last to eat. We started a goat program that provides an income generating asset to such women and gives them access to milk in their diet.
As we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, we should reconsider where and on what we focus on as hashtags will not help ultra poor women. This day should also be about equality for women regardless of their social and economic standing. We can make a real difference in those women’s lives with very little input.
The first term of 2017 in Uganda sees the launch of the Ruhanga Bursary Project, a locally managed project that aims to assist young people in Ruhanga whose families are in short term financial distress which can lead to their children having to leave school often for extended periods until the charges can be paid, perhaps following a harvest, sometimes to a point where no catch up can be achieved requiring a further year’s education which is beyond the means of many already struggling families.
It would perhaps be useful to note that families in Ruhanga are nearly all self-employed and have no access to loan facilities to pay for education as they are neither salaried nor have equity in their homes.
As such, fees and school charges have to be paid for in cash and this places an enormous burden on already struggling families who have little or no capacity to save money after paying for daily living expenses.
That many do is remarkable but many face regular setbacks from periods of low earning due to ill-health, or, as recently in the village, when freak storms damaged crops leaving nothing to sell at market.
Piloting at Team College in the village, and funded by LTHT, the project aims to make funding available to ensure no child is forced to abandon their education due to short term financial difficulty.
The project provides loans to the school to cover the required charges until the family is in a position to repay the funds. This way the school ends the term with all charges received, the parents end the term with all charges paid and the young person ends the term with a full term’s education better equipping them to maximise life’s opportunities.
You can help by donating through this fundraising page:
It really is the gift that keeps on giving as the donation will help a child remain at school, then once repaid to the Bursary Project, the money can help another child etc.
Make a difference today :)
For volunteering opportunities at Team College in Ruhanga visit their website here: volunteer-uganda.org
Oe of the aims of dairy goats program was to enable women to access milk as part of their diet and the good news is that the widows whose goats have kids are getting 1 to 2 cups of milk per day for their own consumption.
We have had some bad news too. One of the 50% male goats we bought for the cross breeding program died. He was housed with one of the female goats who was already pregnant. We suspect that he tried to mate with her and because she was not on heat (due being pregnant already) she fought him and injured him with her horns. This resulted in an eye infection that spread to both eyes and unfortunately, after treating him with antibiotics, he didn’t respond well and died.
The program is now under way and we are expecting 3 more baby goats next month so keep an eye on this space for updates.
I caught up with some of the women that are part of the program last month. It was interesting to hear about their experiences of caring for the goats and how excited they are the prospect of having access to goat milk.
On 14 December Paige and I finally got to meet that are part of our Skills Development Initiative in person. It was end of semester 2 and we were in for a treat. The girls had to make something to wear for our visit as part of their end of semester 2 exams.
We were treated to a fashion show too.. this was such a fun afternoon . The girls told us what it means to them to be part of this program as well as their aspirations. It was interesting to note, that most would like to go into business as teachers so they can pass on the skills they have learned to other. girls like them.
The girls have one more semester to go before they out and out those skills to work. Keep an eye on this space and we will keep you posted as to their progress.
The school term at Team College ended on 14th December 2016 and there was a lot to celebrate this year.
For instance, the school’s students’ successes over the past academic year and mark the undertaking of a major infrastructure improvement programme to the school.
Attended by students, former students, local officials and a wide cross section of the community, the keynote speaker was local MP Mr Gerald Karuhanga who gave a well received speech stressing the importance of education to the future development of the local community and Uganda.
The improvements to the school, which include refurbishing the classrooms, new doors and windows and upgrades to the sanitary facilities, were funded by the charity and long term supporter of the school LTHT, whose chairperson, Ida Horner, attended the event together with trustee Paige Kilroy, and presented awards to students celebrating their achievements over the past year.
Headmaster of Team College, Karamira George, hosted the event which was considered a great success by all those who attended.
The new academic year starts next month and we hope that the improvements will attract more students to the college.
In my last post I told you about Team College and what we are doing to renovate and upgrade the school buildings as well as improve sanitation.
Rural schools such as these suffer from a lack of funding compared to urban schools. This then has implications for the quality of teachers such schools can attract and as such the quality of education pupils can expect.
We are pleased to be in position to change things for this school and as you can see from the photos below, a lot has happened in the past few days.
The truck arrives with building materials
Stones for construction of the veranda
Work starts on the interior of the classrooms. The builders and suppliers of building materials are secondary beneficiaries of this project,
Not wanting to be left behind, girls from the college get stuck in the preparations to seal the floor
Rendering of outside walls. This being a rainy season the progress on this is surprising to say the least.
And here is the finished article
Team College management committee and James Chairperson 2 Ruhanga parish visit to the building site.
With the rendering of the outside walls nearly done, work started on installing window frames. It will be such a treat for students to have dry classrooms during the rainy season.
This is where we are now friends, keep an eye on this page for more updates.
11 October is International Day of the Girl Child.. One of the reason we exist is to ensure that girls are not disadvantaged socially and economically because of their gender. Whilst I am happy to celebrate the Girl Child, I really wish we didn’t need days like this.
The world’s 1.1 billion girls are part of a large and vibrant global generation poised to take on the future. Yet the ambition for gender equality in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights the preponderance of disadvantage and discrimination borne by girls everywhere on a daily basis. Only through explicit focus on collecting and analyzing girl-focused, girl-relevant and sex-disaggregated data, and using these data to inform key policy and program decisions, can we adequately measure and understand the opportunities and challenges girls face, and identify and track progress towards solutions to their most pressing problems…..
We have been doing some work with adolescent girls in Itojo district SW Uganda. These girls are not in employment, education or training , the so called NEETS and form part the 14 Million young people in Uganda that are without a job due to lack of skills. The life outcomes for such girls are well documented but it doesn’t have to be that way.
We have shared with you the outcome of our Skills Development program for these girls and they have been learning about fashion design and the results are amazing
As part their training, the girls are provided with fabric to experiment and design something. At the end of the first semester the girls were able to design a full outfit. As you can see from the photograph above they are now proficient in dress making.
Our aim with this program is to ensure that girls acquire skills they can use to either create their own employment or seek employment elsewhere.
We would like to offer this opportunity to many more such girls in Itojo Sub-county. You can support our efforts by making a donation to our fundraising at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/skills4girls
Menstrual Hygiene Management and the Girl Child
Access to hygienic menstrual absorbents has implications for the Girl child such as missing 2.6 days of school each month in the short term but in the long run this absenteeism may and does lead to girls dropping out of school altogether.
Our work on Menstrual Hygiene Management in secondary schools in Ntungamo District in Uganda indicates that we have a long way to go to change outcomes for the Girl Child
53% of the girls didn’t know what menstruation was before they experienced it
61% of the girls have felt ashamed or embarrassed due to their periods
42% of the girls miss days of school during their periods because they don’t have access to sanitary products
They miss 2.6 days of school a month which impacts negatively in their performance.
Students change their sanitary products every 9 hours.
Our team looked into how girls in Ntungamo secondary schools manage their periods and how they access to menstrual hygiene absorbents, and these are their findings;
48% of the students feel bad or very bad during their MPs
73% of the students use reusable pads but on average they change them every 9 hours which is not hygienic or healthy
13% of the students use reusable sanitary pads at school and a cloth at home
9.1% of the students use a cloth
4.4% of the students use leaves, mattress stuffing, toilet paper or nothing at all
It is 2016 and the fact that this is still the situation in some of the schools means that we will need days like for sometime to come. But it does not have to be this way if we work together.
Help us make a difference by supporting our MHM work for as a little as £1.
£1 provides a girl one pod that include a napkin and a holder
£5 provides a girl a full kit
£10 provides two full kits
£20 provides 4 full kits
The pod and kits last for three years making this a cost effective way of managing periods. Please donate to our Sanitary Pads 4 Girls program today via our Virgin Money page
In my last post the goats had arrived. Os our Program Manager caught up with the Buck-keepers and here is what he discovered.
Maria is one of our buck-keepers has opted for a semi intensive approach for her goats. She takes them with her when she is working the land and brings them back in when she’s finished. They look extremely healthy and it seems the female may be pregnant… Well done, Maria!!
Lydia is the second buck keeper. She keeps her goats zero grazing, meaning that they do not go out to graze but the grasses and vegetation is brought to them in their penn. The male may need extra feeding but the female is doing great and may be pregnant too!
Jovannis, is our third buck keeper. She has required further training on the care of the buck to ensure that it is healthy.
Caring for the bucks is a big job and we are grateful to Maria, Lydia and Jovannis for the work they have put in this far.
I am excited about the first kids but we will not for sometime when we can expect them