From Nov 21-Dec 5, 2012 I travelled to northern Uganda as part of a small team of volunteers with the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA). Each of us was selected to interview Ugandans whose lives are being lifted out of poverty though membership in a rural co-operative, so that upon our return to Canada we could showcase CCA’s international development work. Nearly every day we travelled miles of broken road to spend long hours interviewing people who had themselves travelled miles, some of them on foot, to tell us their story.
About 80 per cent of Ugandans are rural farmers. To help them out of poverty, the Uganda Co-operative Alliance (UCA) created the Integrated Finance and Agriculture Production Initiative, which CCA supports with training and funding. This initiative helps farmers increase and diversify their crops through rural producer organization co-ops, get a better price for their crops through marketing co-ops, and access funds through savings and credit co-operatives.
My team visited co-operatives and farms in the towns of Masindi, Lira, Nebbi and Arua. Every day we witnessed terrible poverty. But every day we also heard inspiring stories from co-op members whose lives are turning around thanks to this integrated approach to rural development.