SLINT-Uganda's mission is to empower people to secure sustainable incomes, food security and improved quality of life while at the same time maintaining the diversity and long-term
productivity of the supporting natural resource base. It is well understood that the economies of most African countries draw upon land-based activities such as agriculture.
Butikiro, one of the poorest villages in the Kiboga district of Uganda,and yet because the villagers recognize land as a vital natural resource, and a basis for subsistence, they have gone to work on land-use activities: the Fruit and Vegetable Growing for Sustainable Livelihoods project and the Gayaza Smallholders Beekeeping project with support from SLINT-Uganda members and on-line volunteers on the Global Neighbour Network. According to a 2007 African Development Bank report: "If sustainably managed, the African landscape, a rich and dynamic mosaic of resources, holds vast opportunities for the development of human well-being." The land-use efforts being made in Butikiro,appear to exemplify this idea well.
Over the last few days, I've been corresponding with Marsha Denis Kabuuka, Butikiro, community development facilitator. Consequently, an interview resulted that reveals more insights about the agricultural projects being implemented in Butikiro.
It is important for the church to be involved in supporting projects such as SLINT-Uganda for a variety of reasons, but mainly to fulfill the mission of being good stewards of God's earth.
Butikiro community development facilitator, Marsha Denis Kabuuka is working to empower people in Butikiro to secure sustainable incomes. He sharedh me SLINT-Uganda has adopted different strategies and embarked on a number of initiatives under four programs: poverty alleviation; market-oriented agricultural development and food security; environmental sustainability; and capacity development and policy advocacy. My role has been to bring the project to the attention of the media since a part of my ministry is to cover under-reported stories, and support feasible projects in the developing worlds through strategic planning and counsel wherever God leads me.
The initiatives are aimed at empowering people to diversify their livelihoods opportunities through engaging in different environmentally friendly income generating opportunities and off farm enterprises. Some of the strategies adopted include: introduction of appropriate technologies (such as solar photovoltaic, biogas and rainwater harvesting); promotion of environmentally-friendly activities and practices: bee-keeping, organic farming, fruit-tree growing and agroforestry); capacity building to empower individuals and groups through training, technical assistance and extension services; public awareness on a wide range of issues; and facilitation of access to markets and income-generating opportunities.
He told me it was important since many rural people are poor and have limited access to basic resources for their immediate and long-term survival. There is need to expand opportunities to empower them to access the basics of life - food, water, energy, shelter, health care, freedom and security – without harming the environment on which they depend.
The biggest challenged the village of Butikiro faced is fighting poverty without compromising the environment and the natural resource base. As poor people struggle to meet their basic daily needs, they sometimes inevitably over-use the few resources available and in the process comprise their own long-term sources of livelihoods.
Marsha Denis Kabuuka explained to me SLINT-Uganda believes that the sustainable livelihoods approach is the most feasible and pragmatic strategy to address these challenges. It is important to promote socio economic wellbeing of the people while at the same time safeguarding the long-term sustainability of the finite natural resources that underpin their
survival. We believe that it should not be a case of either development or the environment. The two should be mutually supportive. And this can be achieved through the adoption of appropriate technologies, sound polices and positive attitudes.
Marsha Denis Kabuuka elaborated that SLINT-Uganda was established in response to the growing poverty, hunger and environmental degradation in most parts of the Uganda. The project as a whole has been rewarding and a blessing to the community, but the most rewarding moments for SLINT-Uganda have been the successful launch of the two projects namely: the Fruit and Vegetable Growing for Sustainable Livelihoods project and the Gayaza Smallholders Beekeeping project that are currently being implemented in Butikiro and Kiyuni villages in Kiboga district in Uganda, with support from SLINT-Uganda members and on-line volunteers on the Global Neighbour Network.
The projects have started to produce tangible results which have generated a lot of excitement and enthusiasm among the local people. Many have demonstrated a determination to use the support provided by the project to achieve self-sustenance in the near future. The partnership between SLINT-Uganda and the nabuur volunteers has also offered opportunities for sharing of knowledge and experiences and has increased connectivity with different development actors.
Yet, there are key frustrations for Marsha Denis Kabuuka such as the changing attitudes and practices of poor people towards environmental stewardship while at the same time
trying to improve their livelihoods . Some people do not see sense in protecting the environment when they can’t meet their basic needs for food, fuel, water and land for agriculture. The existing challenges of daunting poverty, population pressure and land degradation have made it difficult to foster the concept of sustainable livelihoods. This requires patience and determination on the part of SLINT-Uganda, he explained to me.
SLINT-Uganda currently operates mainly in Gayaza sub-county, Kiboga district which is located in central Uganda. It has field offices in Kiboga town and a Liaison Office in Kampala. We hope to initiate other projects in Wakiso and Kampala districts also located in Central Uganda.
A project of this scope needs benefactors to provide a myriad of equipment and supplies. Marsha Denis Kabuuka said the two things he needed most were a truck to transport the farmers’ agricultural products to markets in the urban centres while exploring the feasibility of establishing, in the medium-term, a community storage facility and an agro-processing plant to add-value to their produce. As well as training opportunities for local volunteers working with SLINT-Uganda to gain exposure and technical skills needed to implement our programs.