Area of work:
For millions of people in Uganda, farming offers the prospect of a decent diet and steady income. YICE Uganda helps communities use permaculture techniques – approaches that work with, not against, nature – to produce bigger harvests, reduce deforestation and keep soil and water healthy. Protecting these precious natural resources limits the impact of climate change.
YICE trains rural communities in the country’s Kassanda District in permaculture farming. The organisation focuses its support on marginalised groups such as women, young people and refugees, who may otherwise lack the knowledge and skills to farm successfully. The methods YICE promotes are tailored to the small plots of land these groups have access to.
Trainees learn new skills that boost their nutrition and earnings, and also form social connections by working together in small groups. YICE also provides basic farming equipment, water harvesting kits and seeds – which are unaffordable for many.
YICE enlists local women to become ‘farm agents’ within communities, allowing the organisation to share knowledge through a trusted person. The flow of communication goes both ways, so that YICE can stay informed about the needs of people it is working with. It also sets up demonstration gardens to showcase approaches and the positive results they bring.
The organisation also makes and sells its own low-cost mobile drip-irrigation system. This uses local materials, and offers important benefits in a country where only 14% of people have access to piped water.
Hope in the in face of crisis
YICE was created in 2016. At first the organisation taught conventional farming methods, before adopting more organic and permaculture techniques – now these are the only approaches it promotes. Teaching about the negative effects of cutting down trees is a key feature – trainers encourage farmers to seek alternatives and to plant new trees in their gardens.
Co-founder and lead agronomist Jenefer Lhugabwe explains how YICE’s story began: “Our interest in Kassanda has its origin in the displacement that has been caused by gold mining. The displacement meant that people were now internal refugees, needing to eat. Hence, our first focus was on how such people can feed themselves.
“But the area also had a lot of orphans, the soils had also lost their fertility. Generally, there was this sense of hopelessness. Since I am also from the area, I thought I would make a contribution, not using much money, but my skills.”
New skills help mother-of-four Nabukalu
More than 1,400 households report having at least two meals a day as a result of YICE Uganda’s support. As well as feeding their families, many farmers trade surplus crops to earn extra income – while homemade organic fertiliser can be sold for $1.70 a litre. 690 people have raised their income by at least 30% thanks to YICE’s training and materials.
Nabukalu Joyce took part in training sessions about five years ago. There she learned how to catch and store water using underground tarpaulins, as well as how to make insecticides from local flowers, and manure from cow dung, maize and bean husks. She says: “As a single mother I was struggling. I could not even manage to buy books [for my children], not even a bar of soap. But, now my four kids are admired, they look healthy. All because of the vegetable growing.”
1 November 2023
Ashden Award for Integrated Energy Africa
25 October 2023
Ashden Award for Natural Climate Solutions
Ashden Award for Outstanding Achievement
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