The communities in northern Uganda’s Kole and Dokolo Districts have been deeply disturbed by decades of war and resettlement. The high demand for land has become so contentious that people have been killed in land disputes. And past attempts to resolve the issues have often failed as the underlying poor community relations have not been addressed.
Thanks to generous funding from the Baring and Ellerman Foundations we have been able work through partners TAO-Uganda and FAPAD (Facilitation for Peace and Development) to bring about the needed fundamental change. So much so that one male household head said:
“I have learnt a lot about women’s land rights from my wife. Now my entire family recognises and respects women’s land rights.”
Our three year project, running until 2016, has taken a multi-phased approach to changing attitudes, as outlined in the TAO Annual Report 2014. We have worked with a wide range of community and cultural leaders, empowered women advocates, trained Community Legal Aid Providers (CLAPs) and conducted extensive awareness raising. Opio John, a clan leader from Lwala village Tetugo Parish testified to the change:
“We now recognise and work to promote land rights not only in the cultural context but also the statutory context. I also initiate individual visits to families that do not recognise women’s land rights and sensitise them.”
In addition, the project mediates individual land disputes:
240 cases resolved through mediation between project start in 2013 and late 2015, with 29 pending and 23 referred.
Although not yet finished, the project’s success in increasing understanding of women’s land rights, across the community, has already achieved much.
Increased access to land, for sustainable farming and other income-generation:
Thanks to greater community awareness of land rights, around 1,625 widows have already gained access to their rightful land. Through the simple act of planting along land boundaries, land ownership is much better respected. By having written agreements, women are now making income from renting out their land. Many are now acquiring land titles – which allows them to access loans and so start up businesses.
Less gender-based violence:
Gender-based violence has been a major problem in this area. Alga Ekwan, one of the 60 women advocates trained by this project says:
“TAO-Uganda has been the best project in handling not only land matters but also empowering our capacities on gender issues, so cases of gender-based violence have reduced….
“We help them to appreciate the value of staying peacefully without violence. Also, we help those whose rights have been violated to access justice through mediation. And if this fails, we use the referral arrangements. We also help them to form social groups within their communities because [if you go to the police your husband will come back the next day and the violence will continue].”
Bribery for case hearings reduced:
There had been a high incidence of local council officials being bribed to achieve the desired case outcome. Thanks to the project’s tailored training of a range of community leaders, they have much better leadership skills for handling cases and appreciate the effectness of mediation.
Greater leadership roles for women:
To enable women to secure their land rights this project has built women’s skills and confidence to participate in decision-making. As a result, the project’s benefits go beyond land rights. For example, women are being equipped with the skills and courage to take on leadership roles in groups, such as Village Savings and Loan Associations and even local councils.
Orphans and vulnerable children benefit:
Improved gender relations, greater income, raised awareness of rights and an environment of unity and cooperation have combined to have highly beneficial impacts on the orphans and other vulnerable children in these communities. More are going to school, food security and health have improved, children learn how to relate well to each other and they can grow up in an environment of security and well-being.
The project is due to be completed in 2016.
2014 brought Trust for Africa’s Orphans’ 21st anniversary and our 21st project!
The TAO Annual Report 2014 focuses particularly on the two projects underway during 2014. It outlines the great achievements from our ‘Improving livelihoods and climate change resistance’ project in Pader District that was completed in January 2015, and the ongoing success of our ‘Land advocacy’ project in Kole and Dokolo Districts*.
Communities celebrate better livelihoods and climate change resistance summarises this project, and the many photos of it in our Annual Report show how engaged and delighted the communities were with the huge benefits it has brought them. Around 600 households, supporting over 2,700 orphans and vulnerable children were helped directly – with many more members of the community also trained and involved in the farmer associations.
Chairman of TAO, Iain Knapman, noted that:
“Our bespoke monitoring and evaluation system has played a major role in evaluating the impact of this exciting project and in providing information to both guide the farmers in their planting and sales decisions, and enable extension workers to tailor their training and support to the specific needs of individual communities and farmers.”
The Annual Report was approved at our Annual General Meeting on 17 September 2015. The Chairman also announced the retirement of Trustee and Director Nick Hetherington, who has provided invaluable agricultural expertise since his appointment in July 2002. He will be greatly missed. We are, however, delighted to announce the appointment in his place of Hugh Bagnall-Oakley, a Senior Hunger Policy and Research Adviser at Save the Children UK.
The Chairman thanked the staff and all the Directors for their ongoing, tremendous work to create new futures for the orphans and children of Africa.
* Further information about this project is now available on From violence to peace: Land advocacy project brings fundamental change
Trust for Africa’s Orphans’ major 3-year project in the impoverished north of Uganda has now been concluded, having brought great benefits to the community.
A full summary and photos of this project can now be seen in TAO Annual Report 2014.
The ‘Improving land rights, livelihoods and climate change resistance’ project, funded by Comic Relief, built on the tremendous success of our previous major agri-business project, see Lira, Apac & Oyam Project 2011-13 – Summary & Evaluation. Like the Lira project it organised the small farmers, mostly women, into farmer associations, training them in the agricultural and business skills needed to be able to sell in bulk at commercial prices to large buyers. The result was a great increase in the income for the 600 participating households, which supported 2,700+ orphans and other vulnerable children.
The project also went further than the Lira one. It included significant work to improve understanding and acceptance of land rights. This northern Uganda community continues to be very affected by the decades of conflict, and women – especially widows – and children are particularly vulnerable to being denied access to their rightful land. The project resolved about 30 land cases and raised awareness of rights much more widely, also resulting in a positive impact on gender relations.
War and climate change have also affected the land and environment, and the demand for fuel exacerbates the pressures on the trees and land. The third major component of this project was, therefore, to improve understanding of climate change factors and to build local resistance, including through goat husbandry, bee-keeping, tree-planting and use of soil enrichment and natural pesticides. One of the immediate impacts of this training combined with better incomes was a 50% reduction in the number of trees cut down to make charcoal to sell for additional income.
The ways in which the community has adapted to climate change is illustrated in this info-graphic produced by our delighted partner organisation, TAO-Uganda. Further information can now be seen in TAO Annual Report 2014.
Trust for Africa’s Orphans’ TAO Annual Report 2013 demonstrates the great success of the approach TAO has developed over its 20 years of working in Uganda.
Approved at TAO’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), held at Uganda House on 10 September, the Annual Report celebrates TAO’s work in Lira, Apac and Oyam Districts, which independent evaluations described as a ‘“Hugely innovative” market-access project [and] a “great success”’, generating excellent return on donors’ investment (May 2014 announcement).
Particularly exciting, says Chairman Iain Knapman, is TAO’s current project in the Pader District of northern Uganda, funded by Comic Relief and due to be completed in early 2015.
“Our Pader project applies the innovative and highly effective approach we developed in Lira to assist smallholder farmers to gain access to commercial markets. As this is our first project in Pader, we are also working intensively to build the farmers’ agricultural skills, especially in addressing the impacts of climate change and the environmental degradation caused by the decades of conflict in the area.”
TAO’s Annual Report also provides details about its most recently begun project, which is in Kole and Dokolo Districts. Funded by The Baring/Ellerman Foundations, this project involves an in-depth process to build communities’ respect for the land rights and other rights of women, children and other groups of vulnerable people. It is due to be completed in mid-2016.
The Kole and Dokolo project involves very sensitive work with communities still suffering a great deal from the impact of the conflict in northern Uganda. TAO is working in partnership with FAPAD, which is highly skilled in mediation and building community relations. TAO is also drawing on its experience in the Lira project, where setting up farmer groups had the great benefit of creating much-needed improvement in gender and community relations.
Iain Knapman said:
“We are very excited about both our current projects. We would, however, very much like to extend our work and are seeking further funding to do so. Word has spread of the success of our projects in Lira and Pader, and many communities have asked us to train them in agriculture and environmental management skills and help them set up farmer cooperatives.
“With our partner organisations – TAO-Uganda and Kulika Uganda – both now experienced in running such projects, we are particularly keen to build on our land rights work in Kole and Dokolo Districts. We would welcome interest from potential donors!”
At the AGM, Iain thanked all TAO’s donor, staff and Trustees. As always, Coordinator Joy Mugisha has very effectively managed all the day to day challenges, supported this year by TAO’s new Finance Officer & Projects Assistant, Merium Khan. Iain expressed his appreciation to all his fellow Trustees and announced the sad retirement of Nick Hetherington after 12 years with TAO.
Download the TAO Annual Report 2013.
“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.