Empowering women to improve livelihoods
Six years ago, Rosemary Arenger, 28 was in bad shape.“I was a drunkard and too poor to help myself and my family. My husband was a cattle rustler. He never lived with us very much as he was always away from home on raiding trips. He was very violent and very often beat me up. We could not pay for our children’s education. We did not even have a decent house,” she recalls. In 2007, Arenger joined Aporu Women’s group in Panyangara Sub County, Kotido district.
Formed in 2007, this group has helped to mobilize women in Panyangara Sub County for development. The group, currently comprising 30 members has benefitted from the support of the United Nations Development programme (UNDP)’s Peace building and Development project in Karamoja sub region. So far, the project has supported 108 women and youth groups with income generating grants and reached about 22,050 direct/indirect beneficiaries.
- A total of 108 women and youth groups have been supported with income generating grants, reaching 22,050 direct/indirect beneficiaries.
- The group currently has savings worth 45 million Uganda Shillings (USD 19,565) through personal savings and revolving loans amongst its members.
- The group is also engaged in peace building activities and voluntary disarmament and health awareness campaigns which they carry out through drama, prayer, songs and sports inside and outside their community.
Working in partnership with the Government of Uganda, UNDP provided Aporu Women’s Group with a grinding mill, 100 bags of cereal, a brick moulding machine, a savings box and financial support to construct a store for the cereals and a shelter for the grinding machine. Today, Aporu women Group are one of the most active and progressive women groups in Karamoja sub-region. The grinding machine helps to grind maize, sorghum, millet and other cereals which are then sold at a profit.
The group members also carry out cereal banking where they buy maize, sorghum and other cereals at low prices, store it and then sell it when the prices rise. According to Jane Lokon, the Aporu women group secretary, the group collected UG Shs 27 million from using the grinding machine and from cereal banking. “We used this money to purchase a cow for each group member at 600,000 Uganda shillings per member.” 45 group members benefitted from this venture before 15 of them left the group.
The group currently has savings worth 45 million Uganda Shillings (USD 19,565) through personal savings and revolving loans amongst its members. Members have started their own businesses by borrowing from the group at a modest interest of 10% at the end of the month. The group is also engaged in peace building activities and voluntary disarmament and health awareness campaigns which they carry out through drama, prayer, songs and sports inside and outside their community. Many women’s lives have changed as Arenger’s story shows.
I borrowed money from the group loan scheme which enabled me to open a groceries shop. Together with the cow that I received from the group, I earn some money to care for my family. My children are now in school. We have even built ourselves a decent house with iron sheets,” she says. Her husband has also benefited from the peace building activities in the group.
“He has now abandoned cattle rustling and found permanent job in the defence forces. He no longer beats me and is always willing to talk to me with respect. Arenger’s family is much happier now and looks forward to a bright future.