Grassroots Community Development in Nnindye

Projects in Nnindye, Uganda are the joint work of three key stakeholders: the residents of Nnindye, Uganda Martyrs University, and the University of Notre Dame. The partnership is locally known as UPFORD–University Partnership For Outreach, Research and Development. UPFORD collaborates with other local partners, especially the local government wherever possible in project planning, implementation and integrated research.

Through an intense and thorough process of community led planning, projects in each of the three priority sectors were designed and are currently underway. To aid project implementation, the community established management committees in each village and all work with the elected Nnindye Parish Development Committee (PDC). The PDC oversees all activities of individual village committees and is responsible for overall management of the UPFORD program.

Community Demonstration Gardens

Collectively farmed demonstration gardens have been established in each of the twelve villages. The goal of the demonstration garden project is to increase agricultural productivity in order to improve household food security and income generation for all community members.

One acre of land in each village was donated by a landowner to the community to grow matooke (banana) for a minimum of five years.  Each community developed bylaws and lease agreements to ensure clear roles and responsibilities. With the guidance of UMUCOP and the government Agriculture Extension Officer from the Sub-County, community members provided the labor to plant the gardens. Initial planting was scheduled to occur in October 2010, but due to prolonged drought, planting was postponed until the arrival of rains in March.

Strengthening the Village Health Team

The goal of the Village Health Team project is to improve access to quality health services within Nnindye, which can initially be addressed by strengthening the activities of the existing Village Health Team (VHT) in Nnindye. By understanding the community’s current needs, the perceptions and expectations of the VHT, and the current capacity and skills of the VHT, an appropriate intervention to enhance the services of the VHT can be designed.

UMU’s Faculty of Health Sciences conducted an assessment of the VHT in March 2011. The Faculty used students as enumerators – making this a teaching exercise as well. Michael Dewan (ND ’07), a medical student from Yale University, spent 6 weeks interning with the UPFORD program and was instrumental in working with the Faculty of Health Sciences to design the VHT assessment.

Based on the results of this assessment, UPFORD will work in together with district health officials and the community to design a plan of action for improving VHT services in the community.

Construction of New Water Sources

The people of Nnindye identified access to safe water as one of their greatest challenges. The first step in designing an intervention to address this need is understanding where and what types of water sources should be established to accomplish greater access. Consultants are providing the community with this advice.

In addition to clean and safe water, improved sanitation is needed in Nnindye. This entails constructing and repairing sources of safe water throughout the community, as well as enacting committee structures that manage and maintain these water sources. Additionally, public health campaigns promoting safe water and sanitation will be rolled out in the community in collaboration with the Village Health Team and the Health Center in Nnindye.

Leadership Capacity Building & Youth Engagement

The people of Nnindye requested ongoing mobilization and empowerment to promote full community participation and ownership of community development. UPFORD and the community will continue trainings and other activities on project planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.

Additionally, they identified the need to focus on engaging youth. A workshop was held in March 2011, bringing together more than 80 youth to discuss the UPFORD program and development challenges specific to youth in Nnindye. The day consisted of motivational speakers, project discussion and a football match against the UMU football team.

Planning for the continuation of current projects and expansion into new projects for fiscal year 2011-12 is currently underway.