Alleviating Poverty and Fighting Malnutrition: Making Development Sustainable

Alongside so many organizations around the world working to improve health outcomes in communities, the Foundation for Community Development and Empowerment (FCDE) works to maximize economic, social and environmental opportunities of organizations at the frontline of community development.

Working with organizations in the Kasese District, Uganda, an area that has been plagued by conflict and civil war, the FCDE partnership model focuses on supporting local organizations actively working to address their own communities’ needs. This goes along with the belief that when organizations have the technical knowledge, personnel and funding to run effectively, they can make a lasting impact in their communities.

Sustainable Development That is Really Sustainable

Ndongo United Herbalists’ Association (Ndongo) is a local partner organization FCDE continues to support. The organization works in Bwera, Mukunyu and Nyakiyumbu subcounties in Kasese District, Uganda. Ndongo provides education and training on environmental awareness and farming best practices to its program participants as a way to alleviate poverty and malnutrition, while helping individuals realistically generate income and improve the livelihood of their household.

According to The Cost of Hunger in Africa report for Uganda, the country loses some 1.8 trillion Ugandan Shillings (US$899 million) annually — about 5.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product — due to the effects of child malnutrition alone.

To combat this, Ndongo has provided over 180 households with food supplements, but they have taken their work a step further.

By equipping community members with the knowledge and support to create their own kitchen gardens and make herbal medicines, Ndongo is leading a movement in which the community takes ownership in addressing their health concerns.

Thembo Boniface, Executive Director at FCDE, passionately works with community members to see themselves as a solution: “People are suffering from malnutrition and poor health, especially pregnant women, children and adults. We give households the support to fight it.”

Recognizing the availability of nutritionally viable food is only one piece of the puzzle, support is given to local farmers to maximize their production. Florence Idembe, a staff member, mentions, “Farming can be a lucrative business for the community. We teach people not to just plant for their stomachs. Subsistence farmers can become commercial farmers.”

Pictured: Regina Kaseese (Farmer), Thembo Boniface-Ndongo (Executive Director, FCDE), Zaulia Kabugho (Farmer)

Zaulia Kabugho, a member of the Ndongo Cooperative, a program of the organization, has a new outlook on farming. Kabugho has been farming for 25+ years and comes from a family of farmers. Prior to joining the cooperative, she mixed crops on the same land and farmed haphazardly. Cultivating her farm was a struggle: “There were times when my ½ acre of beans would only yield 80 kg. Now I plant groundnuts. On one acre I planted groundnuts of 14 kg and my output was 280 kg. Ndongo helps me market my harvest and I am seeing profits.”

Regina Kaseese is now a more proactive farmer and is planning a bright future for her family. “My goal is to increase my farm from half an acre to two acres in the next two to three years. Ndongo United’s continued support in bulking harvested crops helps me raise money to acquire what I am dreaming of.”

Capacity Building for Community Led Initiatives

Embracing the importance of local people and thoughtful capacity building is the cornerstone of FCDE’s brand of sustainable development. With implementing offices in Kasese and Rukunigiri, the foundation accepts 8–10 organizations for each office yearly to be local partners. These organizations are grouped into cohorts and receive ongoing support in the form of technical assistance, strategic partnership development, one on one consulting with staff and resource mobilization.

Organizations selected for each cohort are committed to meeting their missions and share a willingness to improve service delivery and quality of programming for their local community. Their projects are entirely locally led and are sustained by members of the community.

“Before FCDE, managing the organization was difficult, such things like a needs assessment and baseline survey were nonexistent. The foundation has helped us create an organizational structure and improve our program implementation and reporting. They are supportive and guide you through processes and follow up with you to see your progress. With their support we have secured an 8 million UGX grant from the Sustainable Agriculture Trainers Network (SATNET) to expand our work. We can now better support our program participants” says Boniface.

FCDE focuses on practical community interventions to foster practical solutions. To learn more about Ndongo and other local partner organizations FCDE supports visit:

Ijeoma Mba is a 2015–2016 Global Health Corps fellow at the Foundation for Community Development and Empowerment in Kasese, Uganda. All GHC fellows, partners and supporters are united in a common belief: health is a human right. There is a role for everyone in the movement for health equity. Join the movement today.