In Uganda, the “Response to Increased Demand on Government Services and Creation of Economic Opportunities (RISE)” project supports farmer groups through the Village Saving and Loans Association approach to enable greater resilience and self-reliance among both refugee and host communities.
Supporting saving associations to invest in the future
Fred Dralema is the proud owner of a new iron sheets roofed house. A father of three from Walaka village in Uriama sub-county is a member of Aliogoro Village Saving and Loans Association in Terego district. With savings from the share out of his association and from his new agricultural activity, Fred Dralema bought iron sheets to roof his house. A target he has set for himself at the beginning of the 2019/2020 savings cycle.
We had been saving as a group before, but our interest rates were high, and no one could even borrow. With guidance from GIZ, we managed to attract more people to get loans through lowering our lending rate.
The RISE project is co-funded by the EU and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and implemented by GIZ. The project's agricultural component supports savings associations’ members to save weekly and make investments, encouraging group members to invest to improve their livelihood. They also set annual investment targets.
Encouraging agricultural enterprises
Farmers groups are encouraged to select an agriculture enterprise from which they can earn a living and make savings. Fred opted to venture into onion growing, even though he had no experience in this field. Using seeds supplied by the RISE project and guidance from its experts, he planted a quarter of an acre of onions.
In December 2020, Fred was able to harvest and sell 184 kilos of onions. He sold each kilo at 3000 Uganda shillings. The income Fred earned from the harvest and the experience motivated him to grow onions on a bigger scale. The income from onions sales and the share he obtained from the savings association allowed Fred to buy a new roof for his house.
RISE support also enabled Paula Aniko, a 23-year-old resident of Oriama village in Terego District to survive the pandemic. By profession, Paula is a nursery teacher. When schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as a member of the Ojondemate savings group, she asked for a loan. With support from the RISE project, the farmer's saving group opted to venture into goats, onions, and groundnuts growing to improve the livelihoods of its members, who are refugees and host community members. The project supplied each member with seeds, training in good agricultural practices and tools. Paula planted onions on a quarter acre from which she harvested 34kgs. In November 2020, the RISE project gave her two goats and she learned about goat farming.
Now armed with goat rearing skills, she used the proceeds from onions to purchase a goat. She also got a loan from her savings group to buy another goat, making her the proud owner of five goats in under six months. Finally, Aniko used her profits from the savings group annual share-out to start a mobile money business.
Supporting vulnerable groups such as refugees
Silver Ayaan also learned to farm thanks to the project. When this father of four children arrived in Uganda from South Sudan in 2017, he had no source of income for nearly two years and sustaining his family was a struggle. In October 2019, Silver heard about the RISE project and their effort to mobilize farmers into groups for agriculture and investment in Obongi District.
With no prior farming experience, Silver opted to venture into tomatoes and cabbage growing.
I opted for vegetables because they mature fast, everyone in the community eats vegetables. It was quick money for me.
With the earnings from his first harvest, he bought a bull and managed to pay school fees for his children. He even had some money left which he used to buy a smartphone. The money he earned coupled with the agricultural techniques he learned thanks to the project, allowed him to expand his agricultural activity, and to provide food security for his family.
With more experience, he has now expanded his garden to half an acre. Having learned about agricultural entrepreneurship and financial management, Silver is feeling hopeful for the future!