Communities take charge of their own development in Maracha
Supporting communities to take charge of their own development
Maracha - In Maracha’s Mundru sub county, a lot of children stay home after completing primary school. This is due to lack of school fees and also the long distances to secondary schools.
Parents are left saddled with children at home who do not have much to do.
However these parents want to change that. Through their Mundru Saemaul Undong (SMU) Group they have baked over 10,000 bricks and plan to bake 10,000 more which will be used to build a vocational school on The school will be built on land provided by the district local government , the land is close to Mundru Sub County offices.
The vocational school, they hope, will give their children can get ‘hands on skills’ that will enable them to get jobs quicker or even start their own businesses.
“They wanted something that would enable their children to start working right after school,” Diana Arijole, the District’s Community Development Officer said of the group which consists of 60 women and 52 men. The sub county has committed to include the construction of the vocational school in their Development Plan.
Group members get together every Saturday morning to discuss their progress and other ideas they have to improve their community.
This initiative was kick started by the Inclusive and Sustainable New Communities (ISNC) project in the district. The project builds on Government of Uganda and Development Partners’ achievements in local development and decentralisation by promoting community-based local development using the Republic of Korea’s Saemaul Undong (SMU) model.
The SMU model, adopted from the Republic of Korea, is based on the principles of diligence, self-help and cooperation towards transformed communities with a long-term shared vision of a better life for all through small-scale self-help projects.
Through the project, communities form groups where they can discuss and agree on the key issues affecting them and how they can address them.
These groups have been leading efforts in clearing and maintaining community roads, wells, working together to till their gardens as well as assisting each other in keeping their homes clean and organised.
Regina Amaguru (left) — a mother of four joined the group in 2015 and she believes that through their community work, they have managed to change their neighbours who are not yet members of the group yet. She adds that she will be sharing some of the pigs received from the project with them. Ms. Amaguru received 3 pigs, although she lost one to swine fever, one of the two remaining ones has already conceived and will be giving birth soon.
At the sub-county, the leadership has also set up a multipurpose milling machine worth 10 million Uganda shillings from the ISNC project. The machine will be used for maize milling, cassava grinding as well as rice husking. It will be managed by the community and proceeds used to support other community projects.
“We believe that that once this machine is up and running, the community will have a place to mill their produce at a subsidized cost enabling them to sell them their produce at a good price and even store some for their families,” Florence Deboru, the Sub County chief said.
Maracha has four other SMU groups, these include; Letasi SMU, Asianzu SMU, Kimiru SMU and Otravu SMU.
In Kimiru Parish, Akili Subcountry, we meet - Joel Mawa (left) - one of the members of Kimiru SMU who received 12 hens and one cock from the ISNC project. He has multiplied those to 35 chicken and he gets one and half trays of eggs from the chicken per week which he sells to retailers as well as his neighbors for home consumption.
“ I enjoy chicken rearing because it keeps me busy and gives me extra income,” says Mawa, a father of nine children, five of whom are still in school.
He keeps a clean record of all his sales and plans to keep expanding his chicken business.
In addition to the chicken, Mr. Mawa is growing fruit in his garden such as mangoes and paw paws which he can sell off also to supplement his income.
The community as well as the local government in Maracha, have embraced the SMU model and are using it to promote community engagement in their own development.
“In the past I used to waste a lot of time, I would leave home early in the morning and head to the market to talk to the people since I thought this was how I could get them to elect me. Now I am engaged in SMU activities and I am with my people daily building our community together. I am personally more engaged in farming than ever before,” the Local Council three Chairperson for Mundru Sub County said.
The leaders say that they will continue to use ISNC model to address other challenges such as the relentless cutting down of trees and encroachment of swamps that is contributing to long dry seasons in their district.
The ISNC project’s main objective is to support Uganda’s transformation through community-driven integrated and sustainable local development.
Transformation is brought about by mind set change, helping communities realise that that they can achieve most of what they are waiting for government to do if they work together. This inadvertently leads to community ownership of their own development. In Maracha, there is a notable increase in participation of the community, including women who are now able to influence what goes into the development plans. Community members are working together on projects including cleaning roads, maintaining water sources, brick laying and do communal farming among others.
On a tour of Maracha, Mundru Sub County, one cannot miss the SMU members’ neat homes or shops, visibly marked with the green leaf that symbolizes Diligence, Self-help and Cooperation. With this mindset change, members will be able develop their own communities with their own solutions.
The ISNC project is which is being piloted in two other districts Luuka, in Central Uganda and Kabarole in Western Uganda. The project is supported with funding from the Republic of Korea through the Korea International Development Agency (KOICA); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Uganda.
Text by: Doreen Kansiime, Harriet Karusigarira & Joelle -Seme Park. UNDP Photos: Doreen Kansiime.