Investment from the UK has been made into businesses: growing and drying local fruit; growing and planting tree seedlings; encouraging regenerative agriculture and charging mobile phones/powering barber shops from solar panels.
The drying of locally harvested fruits such as pineapple and mango uses the power of the sun of which there is an abundance.
Each set of driers supports a number of families who can bring their fruit to be processed. Once dried the fruit is bagged and sold locally to schools and other educational establishments. Drying increases the shelf life of the fruit from a few days to several months so it can be used over an extended period. Each family bringing fruit to be dried is paid accordingly once the fruit is sold.
Tree Nursery and Planting
The Transcending Hope Uganda (THU) nursery was first established in 2013 and has expanded considerably since then. It grows a number of different species such as: Musizi for boundaries; Pine and Eucalyptus for timber, Avocado and Mango for fruit and also Coffee.
A manager and several workers are employed to look after the seedlings. There has been a considerable reduction in tree cover over much of Busoga so local residents are encouraged to plant trees to prevent soil erosion by heavy rain and to provide long term crops such as timber and fruit which will sustain families and keep them on the land. The nursery has faced challenging times such as during the long 2017 drought but has remained profitable throughout.
Since 2013, the nursery has supplied over 1.2 million fruit and timber tree seedlings to householders, private landowners or for planting on church land. Over this time, planting has taken place at 17 church sites in the districts of Mayuge, Bugiri and Iganga. This has involved demarcating boundaries with a native softwood (Musizi) and in most cases infilling with fruit and timber species. There is significant demand to expand this programme so EB has sponsored a pilot at a number of sites to ascertain the resource and cost requirements per site. Unfortunately, due to Covid lockdowns it wasn’t possible to complete this in 2020 but further planting and gap filling was undertaken during the first wet season of 2021.
We also intended to plant sites in 2021 as part of a Carbon-Offsetting venture but again due to lockdowns this has had to be postponed until the first rains of 2022.
Tree planting during the second rains in September/October has become too risky so an alternative scheme has been developed with THU to plant swathes of shrubs and grasses which sequester plenty of carbon, can be cut for animal fodder and will regenerate multiple times. Kicking off this month, 13 small farms across 6 parishes will plant seeds covering an area of 15 acres.
Solar Powered Mobile Phone Charging
Currently there are 15 centres charging phones in the Busoga area. In general, the use of solar panels for domestic electricity including mobile phone charging is increasing all the time so Enable Busoga has concentrated its centres in more remote areas where this technology is not yet established. Mobile phones are now used by more than 40% of the Ugandan population and in remote areas people have to travel to the nearest trading centre to charge up. This involves a walk or a journey on a push bike/motor bike.
A village centre saves the journey and provides the family hosting the charging facility with an income and some domestic electricity. Each month, a proportion of the income is returned to a central pot which pays for maintenance e.g. replacing worn out batteries. This also provides funds to purchase kit for new centres. At the request of our partner, a further 6 sites have been established in Soroti – a remote district to the northeast of Busoga. Here, the sites have been set up in trading centres and some of the buildings have space for activities in addition to mobile phone charging. EB has provided start-up capital for barber shops to be constructed in two locations powered from the solar panels. Unfortunately, they were only able to trade for a very limited period of time before a lockdown was imposed by the Ugandan Government in response to the Covid 19 pandemic.
Microfinance in Beni, DRC
EB has responded to a request from Action Christienne pour le Developpement Integral (ACDI) a local NGO based at St John’s church in Beni, northeast Democratic Republic of Congo. Beni is a small market town surrounded by rain forest while the land around St John’s supports 3 primary schools, 2 secondary schools and a medical centre. The Beni area continues to experience much insecurity as a number of armed militias operate in the area terrorising the local population. Added to this, an outbreak of Ebola remains active while Covid has now further exacerbated the situation. EB has provided funds towards a microfinance programme which makes small loans to women widowed by the violence to start businesses and earn an income to support themselves and their children.