Interventions directed at improving the living standards of people affected by insurgencies in Eastern and Northern Uganda are progressing with optimism as communities fight their way out of poverty using revolving funds provided through the third phase of Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (Nusaf III).
Through the Sustainable Livelihoods Pilot (SLP) project, NUSAF has already disbursed funds to 168 villages; each village got $10,000 (Shs 36m) as funds to help people boost their group enterprises. A total of 14,664 people belonging to 574 self-help groups have benefited.
The beneficiaries are the already existing Nusaf savings and business groups in districts of Kitgum, Gulu, Pakwach, Lira, Masindi, Kotido, Soroti, Butaleja and Kapchorwa and the money was given to them as additional investment capital.
NUSAF finances the component (SLP) project with additional support from the Japanese Social Development Fund. Enterprise Uganda serves the intervention as a key implementing partner responsible for supporting beneficiaries with a set of basic skills for successful business management.
Speaking during the Basic Enterprise Start-up Tools training at Sir Samuel Baker SS-Gulu, the Bungatira sub-county chairman Robinson Akena observed that Nusaf projects are creating tangible positive results in transforming communities, having been a key player in improving the physical infrastructure coupled with provision of funds as seed capital.
“After being availed with funds, many of the beneficiary groups are shifting from subsistence farming into full-scale commercial agriculture; we are appreciative of Nusaf’s move to fund our efforts to fight poverty in addition to building schools, roads and hospitals; all we lacked was enterprise development knowledge,” he said.
Akena added that much as significant support has been channeled through to help the region’s locals out of poverty, there is still a challenge of some people only counting on short-term survival handouts from compassionate people and disliking starting small businesses.
Charles Ocici, the lead trainer and executive director, Enterprise Uganda, cautioned fund beneficiaries against relenting on looking for business opportunities and ensure the money is deployed in a manner that makes it multiply to actualise the purpose of government support.
“Every day, you must ensure that you take solutions to the market; wealth creation must be built on the foundation of living a life of having what to sell in order to have money to buy what others are selling,” he said.
He commended government for injecting capital into small community business groups in the Northern region and improving the area through boosting infrastructure, adding that more effort is needed to help people out of poverty so that they can be able to tap into the befits from the physical infrastructure like roads and electricity.
“The electricity and smooth roads in the region are incentives for investment, they are attracting local investors from other regions and countries; therefore, it is of paramount importance that native communities are supported to make use of the same opportunities to upscale their standards of living,” he said.