With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Makerere University School of Public Health-ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) is implementing the Agency for Self-Reliance Project activities in Lamwo District. Two projects are being implemented in Lamwo District and these include; Palabek Sacco for Skills Enhancement for Sustainable Livelihood and Bed Ki Woro Youth Group: Bakery Skills for Employment. 

The Lamwo Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mr. Charles Uma, giving his remarks at the start of the engagement thanked all participants for positively responding to efforts to improve livelihood in Lamwo District. He noted that his office envisions that these efforts will likely spill over to other districts in Uganda and beyond.  He advised the workshop participants to avoid negative perceptions, poor attitudes and work hard to change mindsets for better project outputs. “Each one of your projects went through a competitive review and selection process and for that reason, I once again congratulate the two projects which were selected to benefit from the Self-Reliance project support” he said. “Do not abuse the implementation processes of these projects’ activities so that we create a difference between these projects being implemented in Lamwo District and others. Let these be flagship projects so that other communities come and learn from us in Lamwo District” he added.

He encouraged members of the Bakery Skills for Employment Project in Madiope sub-county to work very hard and even take over supply of bakery supplies from Gulu District Bakeries. “You already have the market and so it is up to you to meet the market demands. Many bakeries have opened and collapsed, work hard to avoid this” Mr. Uma said.  He advised them to bake what people can eat, people eat good, tasty and nice food including cakes, cookies and bread among others. “The best you should do is to capture the taste of the people” he added. 

He further cautioned the trainees to mind their prices, noting that any money you have in the Acholi sub-region; you might not spend which is not the case if one is in Kampala. “Avoid rigidity in pricing” Mr. Uma emphasized. Indians set their prices low for most goods because for them, they aim at maximizing the competition, can we borrow a leaf from this model and see how best to thrive with it? He asked participants. He argued budding entrepreneurs to aim at being the best competitors so that the market embraces them. 

For the Palabeck Sacco meant to benefit community members in Palabeck sub-County and elsewhere, he indicated the need for these team members to remain aware of and vigilant about the mortality of circles and watch out for that. 

The Vice Chairperson LC 5 Lamwo, Mr. Okoya Mathew Akera speaking after the CAO also welcomed all the workshop participants. He said that he was once an employee of a circle, ‘in memory now’, but he advised that; let people not forget all about you once you exit, let your legacy leave on, let you be remembered for somethings unique, different and to benefit all people.  That it is important that your mind remains in the organization where you were serving even if you are long gone or even dead. He said, “I argue you successful project teams like the Palabeck Sacco that develop and have a Project Vision, after some years, move into a fully-fledged banking institution to serve Uganda and beyond. “RAN has come back to us in this community very timely, the Parish Development Models will definitely build on these efforts and thus this capacity building session is more than welcome and good. It is with such initiatives that the Government of the Repiublic of Uganda efforts can be achieved”, he added. 

During the engagement in Lamwo District, part of the RAN Team including Agnes Nyabigambo, Programs Manager; Anthony Ssebagereka, Research Manager; Patrick Runbangakene, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager; and Harriet Adong, Director Communications, Learning and Knowledge Management endeavored to review project documents, confirm project eligibility, revise workplans, budgets and activities. In addition, we also supported the teams to identify indicators, learn about grants and grants management, reporting, accountability, allocating roles and responsibilities. The Project teams also prepared Pitches that were shared during the projects’ launch session generating a rich community engagement and excitement witnessing community birthed solutions. 

This was also an opportunity for us to re-share about RAN and the Self Reliance Project shared by Harriet Adong. Mr. Anthony Ssebagereka then took participants through a session recapping scope of previous project discussions. Other areas of support offered to the Lamwo District Self Reliance project teams included; Project Management-applying knowledge skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. The RAN presenter, Ms. Agnes Nyabigambo indicated that it is advisable to look at and nurture projects in relation to babies being born. It is the parents who ensure that this baby is raised and he or she is valuable. “If you do not give the baby adequate attention, they could grow and become invaluable to the communities, Ms. Nyabigambo said”.  

We also shared with the project teams why projects fail; sharing challenges as a result of lack of discipline, lack of executive support, no linkage to the business strategy, greed, lack of openness, wrong team members, none evaluation of project success, no risk management, Inability to manage change among others. 

Some projects succeed because members are deliberate on time management, spend more money on implementation of community activities rather than purchase of equipment. Quality versus Quantity is important to keep in our minds, promise s should be to the extent you are able to fulfill or deliver.

We also had the opportunity to share with the community members that projects are temporary, with specific start and end dates. Projects are unique (even twin babies are different in many ways) and yet have progress elaboration. 

Project Managers-a good manager must be a manager and at the same time a team leader.  Good Project Managers remain creative (doing things differently) to explore all opportunities, he or she is tolerant, enthusiastic, free willed to serve etc. 

For Project, Communications Management-the need to document all processes right from the start or onset of the project so that we can tell the story right from birth through growth was emphasized. Documentation can be using text, pictures. Short informative videos among others. 

RAN’s Patrick Rubangakene, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager also guided the project teams through development of their work plans, budgets and activity schedules among others.  

On August 25, 2021, participants also had an opportunity to engage with Hon. Victoria Businge Rusoke, Uganda’s State Minister for Local Government at the Lamwo District Headquarters. Hon. Rusoke was on a monitoring visit to the district. She encouraged the capacity building session participants to embrace the opportunity for their own benefit and the benefit of their families.  She thanked USAID for supporting the efforts of the Government of the Republic of Uganda by funding implementation of activities in the communities. “We must also thank the President of the Republic of Uganda for restoring and maintaining peace in the country, it is because there is peace in our communities that is why donors including USAID can choose to come and invest in activities in these communities and we are all able to actively participate in these activities or initiatives” she said. “You should always aim at doing your best so that you can benefit but also your families and relatives can benefit. That said, could one of the participants stand up and commit on behalf of all the others that you will all take this capacity building session serious” she added. Training participants committed to being good listeners, learners and also committed to doing their best to register a positive change in their communities starting with themselves. This added color to the learning process. 

We are all looking forward to walking the journey with members of Palabeck Sacco and Bed Ki Woro Bakery Group. 

More pictures are shared on https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ecpXoeRYie1aN4fYnsq5Qk2pXOhpp-u4.

Compiled by Harriet Adong, RAN Director Communications, Learning and Knowledge Management