BY DINU TEAM – Jenifer Mandhawun, 30, lives happily with her two daughters in Atego Sub-county in Nebbi District.

As a mother, Mandhawun says: “I was worried when my three-year-old daughter fell sick and became very thin. The medication I got from the hospital was not helping and I did not know what else to do.”

Her three-year-old daughter’s illness came to light during a child screening exercise by the Village Health Team (VHT) in July 2020. She was then advised to take the child to the hospital for better management of the ailment. The screening exercise was supported by the Action for Livelihood Enhancement in Northern Uganda (ALENU), a grant action implemented by Caritas Switzerland and partners, under the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU), a Government program supported by the European Union and supervised by Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

ALENU also supported her with a vegetable gardening kit that enabled her to grow vegetables for both home consumption and sale.

In the past, she adds, “My family could feed on porridge once a day for three days but with ALENU support, I now cook nutrient-rich foods for my girls. My vegetable garden and earnings from the sale of some vegetables have completely changed my life.”

Mandhawun is an example of many women who have benefited from the ALENU support. In November 2020, ALENU trained her and a group of other women in her community on cooking nutritious food for children aged five years and below.

“I acquired a lot of skills. For example, preparing silverfish, or using pounded groundnuts. I was amazed by the simple and affordable recipes that have helped to heal my child… Sleeping with only porridge in the belly is a thing of the past, we can now eat three times a day,” she explains.

She has since started advising her fellow women to feed children on a balanced diet and to take them to the hospital whenever they fall sick.

To contribute to her household income, she has started selling silverfish, a business she started two months ago using a loan from a village savings and loan association (VSLA) under ALENU where she saves Shs2,000 every week.

Ms. Jenifer Mandhawun breastfeeds her baby. Left is her three-year-old daughter after recovering from malnutrition with the support of ALENU, a DINU grant action.

Governance and equal participation

Karamoja Good Governance and Accountability (KAGGA), another DINU grant action implemented by ADOL and partners, has supported the participation of several women in good governance, accountability and fighting Covid-19 pandemic through equal participation in advocating land ownership and improved food security in Abim and Nakapiripit districts.

 

Meanwhile Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), under the DINU grant action, is using the Legal Empowerment and Social Accountability (LESA) approach to promote good governance and accountability for effective service delivery in Koboko and Maracha districts.

According to CEHURD Deputy Executive Director Fatia Kiyange, this is being done through empowering communities on governance, demand accountability from leaders and equal representation.

“COVID-19 times have demonstrated the need for compassionate leadership. The women of this world have so much to offer as compassion is innate within them,” says Ms Kiyange.

According to DINU National Coordinator Pius Ongom Okello, the programme has played a big role in supporting the participation of women in financial inclusion, livelihood and production, nutrition, good governance and accountability in Northern Uganda.

 

Mini-grids promoting agricultural productivity

About 25 villages in Lamwo District are set to be electrified using mini-grids under the Promotion of Mini-Grids in Northern Uganda (Pro Mini-Grids NU) project. Paloga, home to the Paloga united Shea-nut and beekeeping group, is one of the beneficiary villages. The group was formed in 2018 with an objective of lifting the livelihoods of women in the community.

The women are empowered in agribusiness ventures such as bee keeping, shea-nut and sunflower value addition and processing, and financial capacities through provision of savings and loans services. The group membership has increased to 63 (52 females and 11 males) up from 30 women in 2018.

Under Pro Mini-Grids NU project, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a DINU programme implementing partner, has partnered with Lutheran World Federation (LWF) to promote productive use of electricity in the 25 villages in Lamwo where the mini-grids are to be installed, to ensure affordability and improve the standards of living through increased incomes and production.

According to the GIZ Energy Project Manager, Mr Moses Kakooza, the Paloga united Shea-nut and beekeeping group has been selected by LWF as a beneficiary from the planned support for acquisition of electrical appliances, which will add value to their products, as well as various business trainings to ensure the group’s business model is sustainable.

When mini-grid electricity arrives, he says the group will be supported to change their manual and diesel powered equipment to an electric powered one, which will increase production capacity and reduce the time required to process the current volume of 800kg of shea nut from two weeks to two days.

“This will address the group’s biggest challenge of high labour intensity of the shea-nut processing, which will motivate the group to produce more products and increase revenues in the same period of time. The savings in time and labour will also enable the group to diversify its production to include other agricultural products such as sim-sim and honey using electrically powered equipment,” he explains.

A demonstration of the manual shea-nut processing machine, which will be converted to electric power with the arrival of electricity from the mini-grids.

 

DINU background

The Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) programme, which was initiated in 2017 is a EUR150.63 million affirmative action programme of the Government of Uganda and supported by the European Union designed to consolidate stability in Northern Uganda, eradicate poverty and under-nutrition and strengthen the foundations for sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development.

The programme supports interventions in three specific interlinked sectors: (1) Food Security, Nutrition and Livelihoods (2) Infrastructures (transport, logistics, water, energy), and (3) Good Governance.

OPM is responsible for the overall supervision of the DINU programme in partnership with local governments and a wide range of stakeholders, including other implementing partners – Department for International Development (DFID)/Trademark East Africa, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA).

Other key implementing partners are nine grantees that are implementing various development projects under DINU in the five sub-regions of Acholi, Karamoja, Lango, Teso and West Nile. These include CARITAS Switzerland, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (ITTA), National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), CARE-Denmark, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), ADOL Health Care Initiative and DIAKONIA-Sweden.