MAYUGE DISTRICT: For many years, Communities in Busoga region have suffered prevailing rates of poverty, climate change effects and it being with more of rural communities, the population is sought to have depended on agriculture for income, survival and wealth accumulation. Due to lack of agriculture mentorship, many of the residents resorted to sugarcane growing with hopes that it is more profitable abandoning other fast yielding seasonal and profitable crops, the existence of several sugar factories for example Kakira sugar factory, Mayuge sugar factory among others has enticed many farmers to engage in sugarcane plantation due to the hope for ready market forgetting that the sugarcane takes long to mature. This has not only caused poverty but also problems of food insecurity, undernutrition among others. The key determinants of poverty in Mayuge include low household income, least education, poor health among others.

In response to this, Wilmat Development Foundation came in to rescue communities of Mayuge from poverty, the organization goes down to the grassroots to engage communities to participate in development programs put in place as a way of achieving sustainable community led development. People have been educated and introduced to new farming techniques in which they have been able to improve their livelihoods. Oyster mushroom and vegetable growing were introduced to people in villages like imanyiro, Lukone, Igunda among others, until now, people still grow and gain from mushroom and vegetables. Saso breed of chicken was also introduced to the farmers and educated on how to care for them, at first farmers had fear to engage in poultry farming due to the anticipation of death of chicken and loses but in 2019, the organization laid a foundation for group farmers in communities of Mayuge by giving them farm education, start up chicks and feeds to initiate the ventures.

In the same year 2019, WDF mobilized people into village savings and loans associations (VSLAs), in which people were organized in groups of 10-35 members to do voluntary saving as a way of pooling their resources and later access them in form of loans. Today, VSLAs have fully established in villages of Igunda, Lukone, Maine among others with people most especially women benefiting from them. People in these groups can now access loans of up to 1 million UGX. People use these loans to make group and individual investments, provision for their households, generation of school fees for their children, initiation of business ventures, solving emergency issues among others. VSLAs have been a powerful strategy to empower women in rural communities of Mayuge, women are now very far from mare house wives but business owners and established entrepreneurs.

Ms. Isabirye Madina a resident of Igunda says “VSLA has changed my life, I was just a subsistent farmer who used to grow food for only home consumption, through saving I have been able to upgrade to commercial farming and educate my children. I have also managed to initiate my own retail business in the Centre where I get daily supplement income. I don’t regret joining VSLA, thank you Wilmat” .

Though development programs existed, they had left a gap of engaging community members from the grassroots, according to Wilmat development foundation executive director, Mr. Matte Jockas “development programs should always establish the social problems at community grassroots before initiating anything as well as minding active engagement and participation so as to achieve sustainable community development.