Community Revolving Fund promotes rural enterprise development and environmental protection
Sironko - Rose Nangoli’s herbal jelly has become popular in her village of Bukabombwe, Sironko district.
Made from locally sourced materials such as avocado & aloe Vera that grow with ease in the Elgon ranges, Nangoli’s jelly is inexpensive and easily accessible to the villagers to who she delivers it to.
“In a day I can make shs.20, 000 hawking this Elgon jelly with in the community and by the end of the week I make close to shs.100, 000,” says the 32-year old, mother of four who goes around the village hawking her aptly named Elgon jelly.
- The Mountain Elgon ranges located in Eastern Uganda are the oldest and largest volcanic mountain ranges in East Africa rising up to 4,000 square kilometres at their highest peak.
- The Sironko Valley Project received Shs.12, 644,000 from the Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EBA) project. These funds have been used to give various groups along River Sironko small loans of Shs.167, 000 -200,000.
- At least 70 individuals from 13 groups in the community have received these loans which are used to invest in sustainable farming or to start up environmentally friendly business initiatives.
- Community groups are also encouraged to plant trees around their homes and along the River bank.
Nangoli’s business started two years back after she got a loan of Shs.200, 000 from the Sironko Valley Project through the Budadiri Girls’ Self-help group which she is a member of. She was prompted to get the loan after realising that her earnings from farming had reduced and yet she needed to take care of her family.
“With this business, life has become much easier for me and my family because I can now afford to pay school fees for my children, pay medical bills and also buy a few necessities something I could not afford three years back when I was just a subsistence farmer,” Nangoli says.
One of her customers, Wilber Wegula, a shop owner in Budadiri Town Centre says he sells between 12-20 pieces of her jelly per week at shs1200-3000 depending on the size.
Nangoli lives in the Elgon ranges which although rich with fertile mountain soil and predictable rainfall patterns, are fast succumbing to the effects of climate change.
In addition, a high population on the slopes has increased fragmentation of land for settlement and deforestation for fuel products which in turn has led to soil erosion and infertility leading to reduced agricultural production.
It is for this reason that the Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EBA) project supports farmers to adopt environmental friendly agricultural practices in order to minimise land degradation and increase agricultural produce in an effort to improve their livelihoods or like in Nangoli’s case to start environmentally friendly businesses that protect and reduce the pressure on the land.
EBA supports the groups through a Community Revolving Fund which gives small loans to organised groups to start off their businesses. It also offers them training on sustainable agricultural practises to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The support is channeled through a local initiative called the Sironko Valley project which received Shs.12, 644,000 from the EBA project. Through this initiative, the group’s members are able to borrow shs.167, 000 to shs.200 000 at an interest rate of 5% payable in six months. This is used to start off the businesses or work on improving their agricultural produce.
The Budadiri Girls’ Self-help group has 40 members, half of who are women. It was one of the first groups to receive funding from the initiative and their chairperson, Moses Monje says this has helped group members improve their lives tremendously.
Nangoli was among the first ten members from the group to receive a loan, she used it to start the jelly making business and was able to pay back the loan and the five percent interest within six months.
“Each member in this group who received a loan has made sure that they invest in something that not only helps in paying back the loan in time but can also sustain their families for a long time,” says Monje, who further attributes their success to hard work and determination.
Monje, adds that he also borrowed Shs.200, 000 which he used to buy 300 seedlings of coffee, 300 banana suckers, and topped up on the remainder to buy a calf. He hopes that by the end of the year, he’ll be reaping big from his coffee which is currently being sold at Sh.6000 (app.3USD) a kilogramme on the local market.
“There has been an 80% rate of repayment so far, which indicates that the communities are making a profit and recouping the money they invested,” Paul Nteza, the National Programme Coordinator for EBA Uganda says. Adding that so far, a total of seventy individuals from thirteen groups in the community have been supported through this initiative in the River Sironko Catchment area.
The revolving fund focuses on the micro catchment area of River Sironko especially along the tributary streams feeding into the River. This is in the sub-counties of Buhugu, Bumasifwa and Butandiga that have been threatened by silting of the river leading to flooding and soil degradation.
EBA is a four-year project focusing on increasing resilience through reducing the vulnerability to climate change in Uganda. It is being piloted in the Eastern Uganda districts of Sironko, Bulambuli, Kween and Kapchorwa districts.
Besides the revolving fund, the project has trained community members on climate change adaptation measures like planting vetsiver grass for multiple use on the farm such as pest control, soil erosion management, animal feeds, crafts making and thatching houses, use of energy efficiency stoves and mulching to increase land productivity.
The EBA project is being implemented by the Ministry of Water and Environment in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It is funded by the German Government through the International Climate Initiative of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).
Article by: Monica Aturinda-Kyeyune, Communications Assistant - UNDP EBA Project.