Bodaboda driver Photo: Edward Echwalu, Tugende
Tezera Obbo Photo: DGF
Busia Border Photo: Christian Fogelström
Makerere University Photo: Makerere University
Naguru teenage information & health center Photo: NTIHC
Sketch about citizen rights in Luwero Photo: Hillevi Ekberg
Highlights from selected projects in Uganda
The Busia border control between Uganda and Kenya is one of the most frequently used in the whole of East Africa with an estimated 355 vehicles passing per day. Previously, waiting time to cross the border ranged from a few hours up to five days. Today, Swedish support to the organization Trade Mark East Africa has contributed to a reduction in the waiting time which is now maximum two days. Improved cooperation between border posts has been the main reason behind the drastic decrease in waiting time, and consequently the cost for cross-border transportation of commodities and other goods is reduced, thereby facilitating trade.
In Uganda, sexual and reproductive health is at a disadvantage. Knowledge and understanding of the reasons behind and consequences of unplanned pregnancies and the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases are critical for Uganda’s youth. Sweden has supported Naguru Teenage Information and Health Center for more than 10 years with the purpose of contributing to the reduction of unplanned teenage pregnancies, sexual violence, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. One of the many activities at the teenage center is health dialogues led by trained youth leaders. Dialogues take place two to three times per day reaching between 60-120 youths daily.
Land ownership is a significant source of conflict in Uganda. Tezera Obbo, 64, is an example of this. In May 2014, she won a court case against her husband who wanted to sell their joint property, despite the fact that she had legal right to half of it. Tezera received help from Uganda Association of Women Lawyers – an organization supported by Sweden, providing legal aid to women. Eventually she won the trial against her husband and is now a role model who is often consulted by other women on marital conflicts.
Every country needs local capacity within the areas of medicine, technology and innovation in order to develop their own research base. Therefore, Makerere University together with four regional universities has been receiving Swedish support for the past 15 years. The support has contributed to increased analytical capacity; research results directly associated to poverty reduction; and a demonstration of strength to create long-term research and sustainable academic institutions. In cooperation with Swedish universities the support has led to innovation; multidisciplinary work; strengthened international network; and mutual scientific exchange.
Private sector cooperation (Business for development)
Every day, hundreds of thousands of people in Kampala travel to and from work on a motorcycle taxi – commonly referred to as a boda boda. The driver often rents his vehicle from an owner who typically over-charges and reserves the right to withdraw the motorcycle at any time. The result is low income and high job insecurity for the driver. In the cities, where unemployment is a big issue, the boda boda business remains one of the best income opportunities for young men with little education. Through the project ‘Tugende – Let’s go’, the drivers are offered a leasing contract which enables them to own their boda within 18 months. In that way their income is doubled and the possibilities for putting aside money and investing increase. Sweden’s support to the Tugende program has contributed to a ten-fold increase in the number of contracted drivers.
In general, Ugandans have low knowledge of human rights and limited opportunities to influence decision makers. With Swedish support, the grass-root organization Codi works in a multitude of ways to increase awareness about these issues. This entails lectures, debates and sometimes sketches about citizen rights. Often the whole community is engaged in vivid discussions on topics ranging from land rights; what services to demand from the local health clinic; to women’s right to their own body. Local leaders have to be prepared for tough questions from the community members regarding unfulfilled promises.