Source: Daily Monitor
If we are to reduce poverty, we have to reach out to the poor, try to understand why they are poor, and find out if as individuals, they have the resolve to get out of their situation.


Some poor people seem resigned to poverty and will not take advantage of any available opportunity to get out of it. They spend most of their time in drinking joints, they are never to be trusted with credit, and whatever little money they get, they spend it without saving any.

Some estimates say about 70 per cent of Ugandans lack a basic utility or two and may be classified as poor. Thirty 30 per cent of us are described as very poor and the bigger number of these are said to be women. However, some people are poor due to misfortune and are determined to get out of poverty. They probably lacked the right information. Some suddenly lost a bread winner and had large households to support, but if they are equipped with the proper skills, if they are given credit and good guidance, they can improve their livelihoods.

The examples of two struggling farming women in Lyantonde District come to mind. Ms Ziada Namaato, 79, is the proud owner of two pieces of land on which she grows matooke and coffee. About four years ago, she was just a landless old miserable woman, wife to a very poor and much older man and burdened with seven orphaned grandchildren to support. In 2008, she was among the 10 most vulnerable women picked by the village council to benefit from a loan scheme led by an anti-HIV/Aids research project, Salama Shield Foundation (SSF).

Her first loan was Shs50,000. "I used part of it to buy two ddebes of fresh coffee berries, which I cooked, dried, and sold in banana fibre packets. I used the other amount to buy palm leaves and colours to make mats, which I sold to some visiting Canadians." She made over Shs200,000 and was able to pay her loan in less than the prescribed eight months. She used some of the remaining money to buy two in-calf sheep that later produced lambs. She also bought more fresh coffee berries and more palm leaves.

Her next loan was Shs400,000 to which she added Shs200,000 earned from earlier efforts. She bought a piece of land where she and her grandchildren grew beans and bananas. She now had sheep and some beans to sell in addition to income from the sale of cooked coffee berries and mats. She paid back the loan and took another of Shs850,000 and used it to buy her second piece of land, now planted with coffee.

Theopista Nalubega lived in a single hired room with her five children when her husband died after a long illness. "He left debts and no money at all," she tearfully said. "But fortunately all the people he owed money did not demand payment after his death." Her first loan from SFF was Shs200,000. She used Shs60,000 to buy two goats and used another Shs60,000 to trade in local brew. She hired a man to make bricks, intending to pay him Shs80,000 of the borrowed money and Shs50,000 extra, which she hoped to earn from her local brew business. She paid the loan and took another one of Shs300,000, which she used to buy sand and cement.

Her goats gave birth and by then, she had started to stock beer from both Nile and Uganda Breweries. She paid the loan and took another of Shs600,000. With money earned from the sale of goats, she paid a man to build her present house, whose roof still lacks some seven iron sheets but into which she and her children have already moved. With her fourth loan of Shs800,000, she bought her kibanja where she currently grows bananas and beans.

"When you know that you are using borrowed money, you have to worry about paying it back, so you are bound to work harder and to be more careful about your expenditure," she said. There's also a little money saved up on her account with SSF which has provided small loans to women farmers for the last four years - living testimony of why women should get access to credit.

Source: Copyright © 2011 The Monitor. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

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