Increasing incomes for rural women through better land management


Empowering women through Sustainable land management
With support from UNDP's Sustainable Land Management Project, women in six cattle corridor districts in Uganda are setting up tree nurseries for as pine eucalyptus, grevieliia, Musizi. Some of the seedlings are planted and others sold off to earn them an income. (Photo: UNDP Uganda)

When Miriam Karooma’s husband passed away in the early months of 2003, she was worried she wouldn’t be able to take care for their seven children.

Lucky for her, he had left her a square mile of land, and a few head of cattle to fend for her family. However, having been a full time house wife for the 20 years they were married, Miriam did not know anything about managing the land or the cattle. Left with no choice, Miriam started learning how to utilise the land.

Key Highlights

  • Through the Sustainable land Management (SLM) project, Miriam received 5000 tree seedlings and was able to plant 4 acres of bare land with pine and eucalyptus.
  • The Project is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries with financial support from the Norwegian Government through the UNDP Drylands Centre in South Africa.
  • Pilot initiatives are being carried out in six cattle corridor districts including Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Kamuli, Kaliro, Sembabule and Lyantonde.

Starting out was not easy due to encroachment and uncontrolled land use. The land had various squatters and had also developed dry patches resulting from over-grazing, over-cultivation and cutting down of the trees.

Her first project was growing a forest of eucalyptus trees, which would help her to control the number of squatters on the land, cover the dry patches  and also be sold later on to provide the money she needed to meet her family’s needs

In 2012, the Sustainable land Management (SLM) project, presented Miriam with hope of restoring larger parts of her land that were still bare. With support from this project, she received 5000 tree seedlings and was able to plant 4 acres of bare land with pine and eucalyptus. In addition, a tree nursery has been established with pine, grevieliia, Musizi, eucalyptus, and Calliandra for the cows.

“When I realized that planting the trees and restricting grazing on those pieces lead to growth of new grass species and reduction of erosion, I determined to continue growing more trees,” Miriam recalls.

The Sustainable Land Management Project is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and financial support from the Norwegian Government through the UNDP Drylands Centre in South Africa. The project supports land management activities in the six cattle corridor districts including Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Kamuli, Kaliro, Sembabule and Lyantonde.

The three year project has been teaching farmers in these dry areas how to use conservation farming methods that not only revive their exhausted lands but also protect them for future use. Apart from growing food crops, communities are being taught how to grow more trees to be able to protect their environment.

From her nursery, Miriam now supplies her group, Tukwasewamu Women’s group with tree seedlings to plant on their farms.  The group consists of 15 members’ and each member receives 5000 seedlings to plant. The nursery has a capacity of 100,000 seedlings per year, enabling at least 20 more farmers to access tree seedlings for planting. Tukwasewamu Women’s  group has used some of the seedlings to protect Kalunyiga wetland which supplies water to Lyantonde Town council from encroachers, benefiting up to 5000 households with a clean and reliable water source. The initiative will reduce the stress on natural forests for fuel wood supply and also reduce soil erosion from the hillsides and potentially fatal mudslides; as well as generate incomes that will improve livelihoods of at least 10,000 households in the area.

Miriam sees herself as a millionaire but more importantly as an advocate for proper land use, and is now helping to teach members of her community particularly the children how to keep their land green.