Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Program in Uganda aids people with disabilities to grow their own food

From The Daily Monitor:

Disability is not inability. This adage is what Scola Amito, an orphan and with hearing impairment, is clinging on to make ends meet. After losing her parents to HIV/Aids in 2006, Amito, 16, dropped out of Primary Four to take care of the home and six siblings. “It’s not an easy task but I can’t let them roam around in search of food,” she said in sign language.

Farming is now her hope. Amito has been able to support her siblings in UPE schools by selling groundnuts, cassava and potatoes which she grows together with her siblings.

Amito is among 32 people with disabilities in Kitgum District getting support from the National Union for Disabled Persons in Uganda (Nudipu) and Caritas.

The two organisations through agriculture, support the blind, deaf, epileptic and other physically-impaired people in Mucwini and Akwang sub-counties so that they can be self reliant.

For Charles Kilama, rearing pigs has enabled him to fend for his family and mother. Since leaving the camp early this year, Kilama, a physically-disabled person, has not looked back on his decision. Apart from pig rearing, he has been able to grow groundnuts, which he said has earned him Shs1m. “I’m saving money and I have secured a two acres of land that I plan to start a tree planting project,” he said.

Jimmy Lony, the livelihood field worker of Caritas said they train and support extremely vulnerable people with modern farming techniques. “Poor land preparation habits are what deter quality harvest,” Lony said. He said careful preparation of land has enabled several people with disabilities to reap more from their harvest.

“I’m sure that there will be lots of harest with continued practice of what we teach them and in a way we shall address severe poverty among the disabled,” he said.

Each beneficiary receives an acre of land for farming from the organisation.

Ms Ulla Foomsgaard, Nudipu’s Programme Consultant said PWDs have a lot to offer and need to live a dignified life. She said the program is covering Northern Region in the areas of improved livelihood, health, agriculture and education to the disabled.

“We aim at empowering over 300 PWDs in the districts of Apac, Arua, Nebbi, Lira, Kitgum, Gulu & Soroti,” she said. The beneficiaries are involved in crop farming and livestock rearing with each of them receiving two goats and pigs.

Akwang Sub-county chairman Peter Oola said he has witnessed improvement in the lives of PWDs in his area. “They don’t now mind about their disability and don’t depend on able-bodied persons anymore,” he said.

Mr Oola said there are over 900 people with disabilities in the sub-county with over 50 households having at least one disabled person. According to Mr Oola, more PWDs should be supported so that they can live their lives to the full.

“Disabled persons were helped by family members but upon return from IDPs, most of them have been abandoned with no one to take care of them,” he said.

The sub-county chief, Mr Benson Oballim said PWDs have borne the greatest brunt of poverty in the region. “It’s an empowerment that they are now recognised and engaged in productive activities like farming,” he said.

Mr Oballim said the project has helped fight dependency syndrome that most disabled persons have been subjected to before. The district Disabled Persons Union Chairman, Mr Charles Okidi, said it is encouraging PWDs are being included in both government and developmental projects in the district.

“Being included in the programs is an indication that we are active participants in political, social and economic activities and recovery,” he said.

Mr Okidi said there are over 3,000 registered members in the union but not all of them are benefiting from developmental programmes.