Eco-Agric Uganda is implementing a livelihood project aimed at providing skills and supporting education to orphans & vulnerable children (OVC) and women headed households for economic empowerment and improved livelihood in Buwambo parish, Gombe Sub County, Wakiso district. The project bring about social development among vulnerable people through supporting OVC in primary and secondary schools, offering vocational skills and promoting sustainable crop production and urban backyard farming technologies for improved livelihoods.
Eco-Agric Uganda is promoting girl child education and sustainable agriculture production for improved food security, nutrition and income. The project has continued working with 100 women heading households; 30 students that are under taking vocational studies in hair dressing and catering; 50 children in primary and 50 students in school all from Gombe Sub County in Wakiso District. The project aims at economically empowering 300 women heading households in Gombe sub county of Wakiso district while improving food security and nutrition.
The project has continued supporting vocational training and procured start up kits for 30 students undertaking vocational studies. Pupils were supported with scholastic materials while trainings were done on vegetable and mushroom growing and entrepreneurship. All children have been monitored and followed up to ensure their well being as well as stay in school. Crops planted especially maize, beans and tomatoes have been harvested and marketed which has helped farmers improve food security and income.
ACTIVITIES & EVENTS FOR THE PROJECT
Supporting girls in primary and secondary schools with scholastic materials
Enrolled primary and secondary beneficiary school going girls were supported with school uniforms and more scholastic materials. This enabled them to comfortably go through their first schooling term 2016.
Supporting 30 students with school fees to help them acquire vocational skills in hair dressing and cooking
Thirty girls out of school were also identified and enrolled for vocational training in hair dressing. Two hair salons were identified in Gombe sub-county and were contracted to train the girls in hair dressing. Salons being within the supported community, students easily walk to the salon and back to their homes. Students are excited about the training and one was heard saying, “I am going to make money if i master braids (Hair style) because ladies in my community like it a lot and few people can do it.” The care givers were also happy because they had lost hope in their children gaining any skills that could support them in future. They were requested to support their children with lunch which they accepted without hesitation. Care givers were later informed that they should work hard to implement the project income generating activities as they are geared towards enabling them generate more income to support their children and families better
29 students have finalized with their studies and have got places where they are working. They were provided with hair driers, hair shampoo, hair relaxer and hair treatment. Those involved in catering got weighing scale, rolling board, roller, spatula and equipment plus materials to kick start them start cooking as an income generating activity. They are using them to support themselves.
There has been training sessions in all established farmer groups to enable them gain knowledge and skills to grow vegetables using different technologies for better output and to grow mushroom. Community based facilitators (CBFs) were also trained.
Training on vegetable production and establishment of vegetable demonstration gardens
Farmers were trained under their groups in their locality. They were trained more on vegetable growing in a main garden and using different backyard farming technologies including; sack gardens, compound ridge gardens and mandala gardens.
Ability to use the space in their compound and its surroundings and along the verandah to produce good vegetables excited many farmers. They couldn’t imagine producing vegetables from such space. Farmers were trained on mulching and using drip irrigation technology using mineral water bottles, pest and disease control using locally made pesticides and fungicides to cut down on chemical expenses. They were also trained on compost and organic manure making. Hands on methodology was mainly used during the trainings.
The beneficiaries first had a theoretical training followed by practical demonstrations. Nursery beds were set up in the five groups to provide a source of seedlings. 80 farmers planted 60 tomato plants 30 cabbage plants and 60 spinach. Emphasis has been put on feeding the soil using organic manures.
Training on feeding the ways of feeding the soil
The farmers were taught different ways of feeding the soil including: Compost manure, Mulching, Vermi-compost, Plant tea, Manure tea and Slury. They also shared about the Importance of using improved crop varieties and animal breeds. Bucket irrigation, Drip irrigation and Bottle irrigation were demonstrated and emphasized. Trainings on runoff water harvesting, how to come out of poverty and become rich, organic pesticides and Vegetable growing are always done.
Training on mushroom production and establishment of mushroom demonstration sites
Farmers were excited about mushroom growing because they were only hearing about it being done in other areas and people were earning good money. They were trained on the growing of Oyster mushrooms. Advantages of growing mushrooms were spelt out including; it’s grown from a simple locally made structure of poles, polythene and papyrus mats that are affordable and easy to get, require a small space to construct the structure, seed/ spawn easy to get, they are on high demand and the price is high (fresh mushrooms cost sh 4000 – 8000 per kg and dried mushrooms cost sh 40,000 - 60,000 per kg depending on the quality), they are nutritious and medicinal. Farmers were trained on how to grow and manage mushrooms in their gardens and how they are harvested. They were also trained on the cool environment required by mushrooms and how to achieve and maintain it using charcoal dust that is locally available. Farmers were trained on mushroom growth media and how it’s prepared. They were also trained on making mushroom gardens involving packing the substrate in the polythene bags. Materials needed in mushroom production including; mushroom spawn, water drum for steaming, tarpaulin for drying from, jik disinfectant, rubber bands, rings, polythene bags and cotton seed cake were listed.
Farmers packing mushroom cotton substrate to make mushroom gardens
After mushroom growing training, six mushroom demonstration sites were established. One mushroom structure was constructed per group with exception of Yesu Yagaba that constructed two. Construction of the mushroom growing structure was done by the farmers. They mobilized poles, papyrus and bought a polythene paper and constructed the structure. Materials for mushroom growing; polythene bags, tarpaulin, mushroom spawn, water drum, rubber bands, rings, cotton seed cake and jik disinfectant were procured and distributed among the farmer groups.
Community Based Facilitators (CBFs) empowerment training
The five Community Based Facilitators (CBFs) were trained on the project objectives, outputs and the activities. They were trained on their role to support the project including; support in mobilization and monitoring of project activities since they know better their fellow farmers and stay in the same community, help farmers understand their responsibilities, identify challenges and give feedback to the field officer staff. It was emphasized to them that they have a very big contribution to the success and sustainability of the project. So they should work hard for the good of their community.
CBFs attentively listening to trainer during the training
CBFs were further trained on vegetable and mushroom agronomic practices to enable them support the beneficiaries in absence of Eco-Agric Uganda field staff. They were also trained on how to handle and work with people in groups more so adults.