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Augustine Charles Oyet's Fundraiser:

Gender Mainstreaming and rights issues for women and youths in KITGUM to participate in agriculture.

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Augustine Charles Oyet

THE STORY:

Northern Uganda Rural Development Initiative (NURDI) recognizes the role of women and youths in development. It has in its work intervened in involving women and youth in issues that concern them after recognizing the potential they have and the missing link in tapping the capacities in them. NURDI has for the last 6 years worked in the rural areas designing and implementing activities for rural development but at the centre have been youths and women. The project therefore aims at getting the highest from youths and women who are believed to impact communities in all spheres of life. In some communities in Uganda, Kitgum being an example, women still lag behind in terms of ownership of property, participation in active development activities stemming from cultural set ups and decision making that hinders them from decisions a factor that has to change. The youth in the district majority of whom have not gone to school have to wait for the death of their parents to have ownership. Ownership and decision making therefore are two areas where women and youths largely have been spared from. The project intends to train women, youths, and opinion leaders who are important stakeholders to involve women and youths in their programs to increase participation in decision making as well as equal access to ownership of property. The project again is to address issues of credit to credit for business startup and how positively women and youths will handle the changes without widening the gap between men. At the end of the project a phase out plan with a sustainability component for the groups that will be identified, trained and given credit will be clearly drawn. The group approach will be used and at the end of the project two cooperatives will registered for marketing advantages. Value addition needs to be incorporated in agriculture with women and youth participating in the chain right from seed selection to when the product reaches the final consumer. For this to make meaning a step by training with practicals through establishment of demo sites at household level needs to be well designed. Problem statement Through its work, NURDI considers enhancing involvement of women and youth in their development which is reflected in national development. Having worked in rural areas where culture has its strong roots, NURDI has realized that by design women are separated from contributing to their joy and peace. They are considered weak and unable to participate in dialogue or decision a conclusion that is not supported with evidence. Contrally to this conclusion men leave their wives to toil with work especially in gardens , plant, weed but not allowed to engage in negotiations of selling and so spending. This is when men come up to take charge. This is an injustice women have faced and continue to face in rural areas. NURDI realizes this is not sustainable if development has to take its course. In the same spirit women faithfully take on the responsibility of raising children giving them the best possible start in life within their reach and range amidst the challenges they are exposed to. In our work within the villages, women have been found with their children doing agriculture with their hands, have food for home and sell the balance for necessities. The youths on the other hand especially the girl child have as well been marginalized. They are considered young yet they grow in the process. A good number of youths have cried to the government to be considered in budgets but has not taken much root. They are looked at as unserious, opportunists a conclusion that cannot be proved true. In actual sense they are strong, have the will to work once supported in areas where potentials can be put to use. In Kitgum like other districts there are more youths than adults and the fact that not much attention has been paid to them explains the low levels of development on average in the district. The issues are that with low levels of education and low economic activities especially in Orom village death of men seems to be the only way for youths and women to own property which in some cases has been responsible for family disputes or even murder of men in search for ownership rights a solution that negatively affects development. The project is looking at gender mainstreaming and rights issues for women and youths in Kitgum district to participate in meaningful agriculture. It’s when NURDI comes out to streamline participation in a way that will keep the communities and families in particular in harmony to help in bridging the gap which not only hinders development but also an issue of rights to which human beings are entitled to. Agriculture being the main activity for rural people, it still has a challenge of value addition and the whole issue of marketing. Value addition is viewed after harvest a misconception that is responsible for low quality products and thus low prices. Crops are sold as raw materials which fetch low incomes for farmers, unfortunately they buy finished products at higher levels which is responsible for the viscous circle of poverty and can be blamed on the increasing rural urban migration especially for youths causing social tensions in city centres. In general agriculture will still have a long way to go if support is not given in terms of inputs, trainings which must address the issue of quality, collective marketing issues, resource mobilization and management and the whole discussion of value addition. With these in place, production will increase which will increase incomes at household levels thus happiness and peace in rural areas for women and youths which will spread to men as well. Project goal: Contribute to active participation of women and youth in development in the agricultural sector through training, marketing, basic value addition to agricultural products extension services and provision of credit services in Kitgum district between 2016-2019 for gender mainstreaming.

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