“Hugely innovative” and a “great success” were the strong accolades given in the independent evaluations of our project to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Northern Uganda through market-led development.
Funded by the Department for International Development (DfID), this project in the districts of Lira, Apac and Oyam was our first to enable smallholder farmers to sell their produce at commercial prices.
Our innovative approach was designed by working closely with the communities to understand their needs. It supported farmers to work together in groups and subsequently register as Farmers’ Cooperatives. Farmers were trained in group dynamics and leadership skills, financial management, and marketing and negotiation. Representatives visited the commercial buyers to gain an understanding of how they operate, their quality standards and logistical issues. Stores were built to enable produce to be kept securely and sold in bulk at fair market prices. Farmers learnt to make planting decisions based on market information and appreciation of issues such as crop rotation.
The project generated a very tangible profit to the farmers that in just the first two years represents an excellent return on investment for our donor – 424% + increased food consumption for the families. There were also multiplier effects on the wider community and in terms of the participants’ ability to invest further in their farms.
We were also delighted that the project evaluations confirmed a significant improvement in gender relations, reduced gender based violence and an increase in women’s involvement in leadership and decision making.
This particular project built on our previous work in these three districts that had already enabled women and children to achieve fair access to land, and had trained them in productive agricultural techniques.
We are now applying the market-access lessons learnt to our current major project in the adjacent Pader District, which combines all the elements of both projects in Lira, Apac and Oyam, together with support to help farmers to resist the impacts of climate change.
We are currently conducting a major land advocacy project in nearby districts and are seeking donors to fund the application of this successful approach in these districts as well.
Our detailed Lira, Apac & Oyam Project 2011-13 – Summary & Evaluation and our Current Projects page provide further information about our exciting new approach.
Trust for Africa’s Orphans’ (TAO) Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held at Uganda House on Wednesday 11 September. Chairman, Iain Knapman, summarised the huge change in TAO’s operations in Uganda over the last two years, concluding with the excellent returns on donors’ investment that have been measured by our new Monitoring and Evaluation system.
As set out in our 2012 and 2011 Annual Reports, TAO has faced some considerable challenges over the last two years, during which time we have delivered two projects in Northern Uganda. The two year project funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) has just been completed, while a three year project funded predominantly by Comic Relief is over half-way through. During the two years we had two major changes in partners, including supporting the creation of TAO-Uganda, a Ugandan NGO legally independent of TAO in the UK. TAO has been particularly appreciative of the willingness of our donors to accept the changes part-way through the projects and the work of the Boards of Kulika and TAO-Uganda in ensuring strong delivery of the projects.
The Chairman thanked all the TAO Directors’ substantial input to the running of TAO, recognising that it is provided on an entirely voluntary basis. He particularly thanked those able to visit Uganda to review project progress and the recent success of Director Pete Burnham in raising much-needed unrestricted funding through his challenging sponsored bike-ride.
Iain Knapman expressed the whole Board’s extremely heartfelt appreciation to the outgoing Finance Officer, Brenda Green, saying:
“Brenda has been with TAO for an incredible 15 years, working tirelessly to maintain our accounts and produce all our financial reports. She does a great job, from a distance, to oversee our partners’ financial management, and has been invaluable support in our project management. Brenda ensures all our paperwork is accurate and compliant with legal needs, and has kept all of us properly organised.
“We are delighted to welcome Merium Khan, who started at the beginning of September ago as Brenda’s replacement. She has hard shoes to fill! We are also hugely appreciative that Brenda will continue to provide support to Merium and TAO until Christmas, when we will finally farewell her after 15 years.”
DFID-funded project in Lira, Apac and Oyam almost wound-up, Patrons, Directors, staff and members were all highly delighted to learn that the value of total farmers’ harvest, less their cost of seeds and fertilizers etc, exceeded £250,000 in each of the first year’s two seasons. This represents an average annual ‘profit’ to each farmer of over £250 – a significant sum in the local market. From the donor’s point of view, the project generated farmer profits in just one half-year season that exceeded the whole of the £230,000 funding by DFID provided for the two year project – and these returns are expected to continue each year into the future.
We have been able to demonstrate these results thanks to our investment in a comprehensive Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system. This process has involved training local people to collect and input the information, and training of head office staff to analyse the results and apply the lessons.
A more detailed report on this project will be available over the coming months. We are confident that the outstanding returns from this project demonstrated by this M&E system will form an excellent basis for further fundraising to expand our much needed work to help the orphans and their families in northern Uganda.
TAO would like to thank everyone who attended the AGM on 11 September.