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.
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.