Community Projects in Mbale

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Mbale slum dwellers federation a member of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda, is a movement of organized communities of the urban poor who have chosen to advocate for social change within their communities through saving groups. Mbale has over 2000 people meeting on a daily/weekly basis in 44 saving groups, a larger percentage of who are women. Apart from daily savings, the groups have also vested their energy in small-scale projects to boost their incomes. Projects such as Urban agriculture, Urban farming, Tailoring, Food processing among others.

During our mission to Mbale, we visited five settlements with groups in the federation that are doing small-scale projects within their community. These include Nabuyonga, Zesui, Mission, Bufumbo and Doko.

NABUYONGA SLUM DWELLERS ASSOCIATION (NABUYONGA SETTLEMENT)

Membership: 103 Members (64 women, 39 Men)

Project: Cattle farming

Nabuyonga slum dwellers association is a saving group in Nabuyonga settlement. With only 6 cows, the project produces 25 liters of milk on a daily basis which milk is supplied on order. Participation of the members of the group in the project is done on a rotational basis. 6 members work daily to clean, feed and treat the animals. Funds generated from the project are used to boost up the groups loaning systems as well as expand the project.Plans: the project also hopes to start generating Biogas from animal waste

 ZESUI SAVING SCHEME (ZESUI SETTLEMENT)

Membership: 60 members (38 active members)

Project: Tailoring project, Goat farming

Total Savings: the group had 1 million in savings but has currently loaned 900,000UGX out to members. The group has a good loaning system, which is what keeps the group strong and united. Their loan application forms are signed by the LC1 Chairman of the zone and stamped by the group to ensure safety of their savings.

UPF Suubi savings: the group has saved 700,000UGX

The group was formed in 2010 as a Community Based Organization aimed at equipping community members especially girls that have dropped out of school with skills in tailoring and urban farming. The group is highly organized with records of the members, their savings, and a five-year plan that the chairperson of the group shared with us. In their plan, a number of projects have been planned. These include Goat keeping, Poultry farming, Sweater making, Petty trading, Tablecloth making, piggery and urban agriculture.

Now in the second year of the five-year plan, the group has already achieved 80% of their planned projects. As we sat in their tailoring workshop, the chairlady of the group was busy instructing members designing tablecloths and making sweaters using a sweater-making machine that the group acquired from CDD funds they obtained from Mbale municipality. The training has so far produced 8 women who successfully went through the training and are now producing and selling table cloths. An Art and design student also did internship at their training centre and was able to learn and share with the women new designs. The group earns funds from students’ enrolment to the training center. Each student is required to pay 20,000UGX upon enrolment.  The group now has 3 sewing machines and 1 sweater making machine.

The group also has an excellent goat project in a nearby area within Zesui which has also explored the production of bio gas and Rainwater harvesting technologies. The project has both local and Friesian goats that are reared in a raised wooden structure. The goats after birth are sold off to generate income for the group and to give room for the kids.

Challenges faced by the group

The community still needs sensitization about the tailoring project.

The high cost of living has caused reduction in community savings

WOMEN IN AMARANTH AND MUSHROOM AGRO PROCESSING ASSOCIATION –MISSION CELL (NAMAKWEKWE)

Membership: 41 members (7 men, 34 women)

Project: Amaranth and Mushroom growing and processing

Savings: at the time of visit, the group had  UGX 800,000 in daily savings and UGX 210,000 had been given in loans to members of the group

The group has gardens in Bulambuli and Tirinyi districts a few miles from Mbale where the amaranth is grown and then brought to their office in Mission where a series of products are processed out of the amaranth. The women received training on the production of various products using Amaranth seeds. These include amaranth porridge, Amaranth pops, Amaranth biscuits and amaranth roast.

The group has often actively participated in Agro-processing events and is planning to participate in the national agricultural week this year.The group is however faced with challenges of lack of land close to their work station in mission which would reduce on their transport costs.The group also has a small manual machine that they use for grinding the seeds. This has limited their production capacity.

TUSSAKIMU SAVING GROUP- DOKO CELL (NAMATALA SETTLEMENT)

Membership: 109 members (86 women, 23 men)

Project: Bakery project

Located in one of the biggest slum in Mbale is Tussakimu savings group. The group is composed of men, women and youth who have actively engaged in daily savings and loaning within their community. In 2011, the group acquired a loan of  million UGX from DFCU bank to start up a bakery project. With this money the members put up a temporary structure made of iron sheets which was soon to be their bread factory on land that was offered by one of the members of the group. The group also purchased all the necessary equipment and ingredients and the bakery was in business. The group is now only left with 1 million shillings to complete their loan repayment. The project has provided employment to 30 youth group members who work in shifts of 15 per day. The project is headed by a youthful gentleman who ensures that the shifts of teams working at the bakery as well as deliveries are in order. Through the project the group has been able to increase their group loaning system and this has also boosted members to save even more.

The project has however been faced with challenges especially when bread gets spoilt and has to be brought back. Impressively though is the fact that regardless of the loss from returned bread, all is not lost since the expired bread is still sold to poultry farmers as chicken feeds.

MAGEZI BUGAGA SAVING GROUP- BUFUMBO CELL (NAMAKWEKWE SETTLEMENT)

Project: Bakery project

Magezi Bugaga (meaning Knowledge is Wealth) is one of the two groups located in bufumbo cell in Namakwekwe settlement. The group composed of all women proudly brags about being the first group to save 1.5 million shillings on SUUBI. The group started a confectionery making business where they make half cakes, doughnuts and simsim cakes which are parked and then supplied to shops and super markets on a daily basis as the demand arises. The group makes the most sales during weekends and “back to school” time since school going children are the biggest consumers of these products. The group is planning on acquiring a piece of land to construct a bakery since they are currently using the chairperson’s house where monthly rent costs are incurred.