The problems we face here in my part of Uganda are crosscutting. Everything is related – poverty, environmental degradation, lack of education. These are all cyclical issues and they require solutions that break each part of the cycle.
That is why my Connectors are looking at an intergenerational and multi-pronged solution: building a coffee and fruit-processing system.
Firstly, this will help local farmers – the producers of the coffee and fruit that will be processed at the plant. It will mean our local economy grows rather than having the money taken out of the community.
Secondly, it will help the environment because we will ensure that the coffee and fruits are grown sustainably. Dependent on the continued prosperity and fertility of the land, we are it’s guardians and will not degrade it.
Next, it will help the wider community by providing a more reliable source of food – especially food that is healthy. If you don’t have enough money to buy good food you end up being malnourished and that makes it less likely that you can work and earn a wage. The cycle is reinforcing. We can break that by providing a good source of nutritious food.
And lastly, we hope this project will raise money to fund the education of orphans and targeted support for young girls who often drop out of education earlier than boys. Money that doesn’t go back to farmers will be invested in the future of these young people who, as it stands, are often locked out of education – again, perpetuating the poverty trap they are in.
This is a project we are working to support people at every level of society. It is a multiplier project that will change lives.
Gyaviira Kaleebu is Executive Director of the Orphaned and Youth Development Initiative (OYDI), Uganda.