TAO is running two major projects in northern Uganda in 2017.
In 2015 we commenced a ‘re-usable sanitary towels project’, in association with the Kole District Local Government to address the immense problem of girls dropping out of school because of the stigma around menstruating and the cost of disposable sanitary pads.
In 2016 we started a major land rights, agri-business and climate change resistance project in Pader District, northern Uganda – applying the successful approach we used in another sub-country of the district.
These two projects are described in further detail below.
As always, TAO seeks funding for new projects, particularly as the success of our projects leads other communities to seek our help. We invite interested donors to contact us for further details.
Re-usable sanitary pads project
As our news article A simple solution to a huge problem explains, the unaffordability of disposable sanitary pads and the lack of effective and hygienic alternatives is the primary reason for a third of the incredible 80% drop out rate of girls from primary school in Uganda.
With funding from Scott Bader Commonwealth and another donor we are addressing this major problem in Kole District through a pilot project to set up a social enterprise producing re-usable sanitary pads to be sold to girls at an affordable price, combined with education and culture-changing support.
The pilot is led by our partner, TAO Uganda, and run in association with both the Kole District local government and the Atan Primary School Management Committee. Toilets and a washroom have been built for this primary school.
To date, a production centre has been established, stocked with the equipment and supplies needed to make the sanitary pads, and individuals have been trained in the production process. Production has commenced and the pads themselves have proved successful with the girls. The pads are washable and a set of five should last about a year, and they cost less than 40% of the disposable pads.
However, the challenge is to convince parents / carers to buy the pads, as the social-enterprise needs to be self-sustaining (not funded by donors). As the low price has not been sufficient to address the barriers to this purchase, the project is moving into an awareness-raising phase, aiming to change ingrained attitudes to girls’ education and menstruation.
As this is a pilot, intended to develop an approach that works, the project is changing as it progresses.
There are two added advantages to this project. Firstly, the pads are produced by women, providing some additional employment. Second, to the extent that girls were previously buying disposable pads, the re-usable alternatives means a reduction in waste generated – and a waste item that carries health risks.
Sustainable Agri-business in Pader
The TAO Annual Report 2014 details the success of our previous Comic Relief project in Pader to improve land rights, build agri-businesses and develop resistance to the impacts of climate change. In light of this great success, Comic Relief has funded another three-year project to replicate this work in another sub-county, Awere.
The project aims to:
- Build community understanding of land rights and enable women and children to obtain their land rights.
- Improve farming productivity.
- Increase climate change resistance.
- Establish three Farmer Cooperatives that enable the small farmers to sell their produce at commercial prices, each supported by a store constructed to enable produce to be kept and sold in bulk.
- Improve gender equality and community relations.
The project beneficiaries include:
- Direct beneficiaries: 750 small farmers and their households, 600 of whom will be female. These direct beneficiaries will receive inputs such as seeds, tarpaulins and goats, and they will be trained in agricultural, climate change resistance, financial and farmer cooperative matters. In each of the three years 250 small farmers will be involved, so the training and support is staggered across the project duration.
- Less-direct beneficiaries: A further 2,200 neighbouring small farmers and their households, who will have access to the training and the Farmer Cooperatives.
- Indirect beneficiaries: The wider communities through awareness-raising activities regarding land rights, farming approaches and climate change resistance.
Drawing on the success and lessons learnt from our previous work, this project involves the following activities:
Improve awareness of and access to land rights including through:
- Promotional activities
- Training leaders and officials to advocate for and protect the lands rights of women and children
- Creating a mediation team to arbitrate disputes
- Providing legal aid support for land disputes where necessary (through FAPAD)
Support and train small farmers to increase agricultural productivity and develop small agri-businesses by:
i – Providing direct beneficiaries with:
- Sunflower, simsim, soya bean, sorghum start-up ‘improved’ (hybrid) seeds
- A tarpaulin each to enable efficient and clean drying of produce
ii – Providing all beneficiaries with:
- Demonstration farms
- Agricultural training
- Training beneficiaries in bee-keeping and making of traditional bee hives from local materials (this also improved climate change resistance by improving pollination and providing an alternative income source)
iii – Raising understanding of sustainable farming techniques across the wider community through promotional activities.
Support and train small farmers to improve climate change resistance by:
- Training 20 Climate Change Volunteers to support and guide others
- Training beneficiaries on matters such as soil and water conservation, crop rotation, intercropping and composting
- Providing each directly-benefiting household with two goats and training on goat pen construction and manure composting
- Training beneficiaries on energy-saving stoves
- Encouraging environmental protection by demonstrating how planting trees on farms can both improve climate-change resistance and provide economic value
Support and train beneficiaries to develop effective farmer cooperatives and manage finances by:
- Constructing three community stores to enable produce to be stored and sold so as to maximise income
- Training beneficiaries in financial management and the principles of ‘Village Savings and Loans Associations’, formation and management of cooperatives (including group dynamics, marketing and market intelligence), record-keeping and post-harvest handling
- Supporting farmers to set up and register Farmer Cooperatives (one each year)