Our year at a glance: Stepping Up out of poverty in Uganda

Two staff members from OCA

Uganda is one of the world’s poorest nations, due to decades of conflict. An entire generation lost out on education and training opportunities, never developing the skills to thrive.

Our StepUp programme aims to break the cycle of poverty that afflicts rural farming families in northern Uganda.

IRT has supported the StepUp programme since 2011, partnering with the Organisation for Community Action, based in Lira. The programme helps farmers to identify the issues which hold them in crippling poverty and to work with StepUp trainers to achieve sustainable solutions.

With StepUp, we have witnessed vast improvements in the everyday lives of farming families and communities in Lira, northern Uganda from improved food production, quality housing, clean water to the setting up of small scale businesses, better access to education, improved gender equality and family relationships.

This year, we reached 1,969 households across four communities in northern Uganda with StepUp. The families received multi-faceted training sessions surrounding economic empowerment, education, gender equality and learnt lifelong practical skills around sustainable farming, sanitation and hygiene, setting-up small businesses and community leadership.

Not only were the families left with a sense of community and economic empowerment but the programme has seen that they are now living in greater harmony amongst each other, women’s workloads have been reduced and schools have seen an increase in female attendance.

StepUp helps Susan step out of crippling poverty

Step-Up Susan's story

Susan with her two young children in northern Uganda.


Susan never dreamed of living in a beautiful compound. She slept in a grass-thatched house, which leaked whenever it rained. She would spend many hours foraging in the bush to gather enough vegetables for the family and walked long distances to collect water. Cooking was difficult; using traditional methods and, without ventilation, the room was filled with smoke. She could not afford to send her children to school.

StepUp has changed her life.

Susan feels her compound is now better organised, with the essential sanitary facilities: rubbish pit, dish-drying rack, and permanent toilet. By saving money, she has been able to improve the quality of her home and afford school fees for her children.

Her family’s health has also improved: an energy-saving oven has reduced the smoke in the home; they now eat well-balanced meals and with a safe water point being established they now have easy access to clean water.

Read more about our StepUp programme in ourĀ 2017 annual newsletter.