CIDI: 25 years of rooting for sustainable livelihoods, mindset change

CIDI Executive Director, Dr Jjuuko Fulgensio at the launch of his inspirational book (PHOTO/UG Standard)

KAMPALA —For the last 25 years, the Community Integrated Development Initiative —CIDI has prioritized mobilizing and training farmers to adopt eco-friendly farming methods as a step towards improving agricultural productivity and leading sustainable livelihoods.

Initiated in 1997, CIDI, set out to mobilize and empower grass-root communities to take to resilient farming practices to achieve the much sought after social economic transformation.

“We are celebrating the impact that we have caused amongst the local communities. We work with the last person in the very rural communities, providing them with basic necessities including water and capacity building in many areas,” Dr. Fulgensio Jjuuko who started the organization 25 years ago said.

“We have touched over 170,000 farmers in their villages who were working as individual farmers, but now [they’re] organized into very strong associations. They are able to produce, process and market,” Dr. Jjuuko, who also received praises from the donor community and partners explained.

Changing the mindset of communities towards Sustainable Development has been the lead pillar to this success, Dr. Jjuuko, the organization’s Executive Director said.

“It is very important to change people’s minds when it comes to education and also to development. Mind set change is a key thing that CIDI has enforced in the last 25 years. You can’t bring about development without working on people’s minds and so we have been engaged in mindset change especially in the field of sanitation. That’s where health begins”.

From a rented single room office in one of Kampala’s suburbs, the organization now owns a permanent home in the upscale of Ugandan capital and regional presence in over 28 districts.

“Besides mindset change, we have heavily invested in other sectors, Dr Jjuuko said, mentioning multi-million water projects in Karamoja, Valley dams in Teso and water harvesting tanks in different communities especially in underserved areas and refugee settings.

Over 800 farmers have been to access smart knowledge technologies that ensure sustainable harvesting of the environment through promotion of green growth activities, planting climate trees, and promoting clean energy technologies.

Juuko, who also wrote an inspiration book—epic persistence— detailing his life said CIDI has undertaken initiatives to have community action on climate change and over 257,426 trees have been planted so far.

Such projects, he said to continue empower communities by focusing on food security and livelihood skills, health, nutrition, hygiene and environmental awareness.

He also said that they are offering different vocational skills such as carpentry, building and construction, tailoring, mechanics and metal fabrication to the youth in underserved communities.

Such schemes include a youth skilling center at Kabojja in Kyengera Town Council and Teenage Mothers’ Center in Soroti where they have supported over 8200 youths to acquire various vocational skills through training and mentorship in various enterprises.

We have mobilized and organized 1320 Youth in 6 Associations in Rakai and Soroti and they undertaking income generating activities including wine making, bakery among others,” Mr. Jjuuko said.

Over 135,243 youths across Uganda have been supported to organize into a National Youth Advocacy Platform-NYAP that provides them an avenue to access and engage directly with regional, national and international leaders and policy makers on issues of importance to youths.

A recent National Household Survey (NHS) by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) recorded an increase in poverty from 19.7% in 2012 to 21.4% in 2016.

Reports also show that the country continues to grapple with consistent food insecurity and nutritional deficiency, as a significant percentage of the population suffers from acute food shortage. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in 2011 reported that Uganda had a Global Hunger Index (GHI) score of 16.7%, emerging 42nd in the world out of 81 countries ranked, with its hunger situation considered “serious”.

Analysts argue that the growth in poverty levels and food insecurity, coupled with continuing population growth and poor agricultural practices will continue to afflict the environment and provoke climate disasters.

In recent years, Uganda has been hit by drastic weather changes, with devastating floods and landslides caused by heavy rains in the Elgon area and the western Uganda districts of Kasese and Bundibugyo.

The rising water levels have also caused major lakes and rivers to burst their banks, causing mass displacement of people living on the shores.

Dr. Jjuuko says the next 25 years of CIDI must focus on addressing such challenges—paying attention to climate change and it’s impacts, sanitation and advocacy.

Going forward, he said, “we have set a strong governance and strategic foundation for the next 25 years, and we are very optimistic for the future.

In terms of programming, he said, “we have constantly retooled our staff to make sure they understand the thematic areas where we work.”

“We have capacity in those staff and we are hopeful that in the coming years, they are good to go in the programmes that we expand.”

He said in the next 25 five, CIDI would focus on creating solutions to the common challenges in areas of the environment, agriculture and WASH.

“We have already produced solar stoves which are tapping the sun and then we are using it to cook and provide light in the homes” he said, noting that the organization will put much emphasis on the youth by proving a platform for discussion.

Dr. Rose Azuba, the Board Chairperson highlighted that the organization would continue to engage with partners to ensure that the programmes we implement create an impact on the “people we serve”.

The programmes we implement must be serving needs of the communities.

Dr. Azuba also reechoed that mindset change remain top priority to create an impact on communities.
“All our work rotates around mindset change. We believe that if you’re able to change a person’s mindset, that person is then able to use the resources they have to transform themselves,” Dr. Azuba said.

Mr. Peder Thornings from the Danish People’s Aid (DPA) one of the leading donors supporting CIDI activities said they haven’t had any accountability queries on CIDI.

In our perspective, CIDI’s strength is in their capacity to work on the ground on long term development, but it is also the capacity to undertake short term humanitarian interventions when needed, and then add to that the capacity to undertake significant advocacy and we could say more political activities in the area of water sanitation and hygiene. At least in the case of our cooperation So I think this is a very, very strong basis our partnership it has been and will continue to remain so in the future,” Mr. Thornings said.

Speaking of the future, he said, “we still have three years left of our current program, but I would encourage us to start looking at maybe even bigger funding. We could be looking at EU eco funding. Sometimes we need partners there”.

Speaking of the future, he said: “my wish for the next 25 years is that at some point, we can see that also your government (Uganda) can see the benefit and the value of supporting civil society organizations in Uganda”.

Dr. Daisy Owomugasho, the Regional Director for East Africa at The Hunger Project who represented a consortium of NGOs working in Water and Sanitation docket said had worked hard to touch over 2.7 million people in the field of water and sanitation alone.

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