Olivia Garner IRT examines how StepUp communities are improving intrahousehold relations, including an increase in gender equality and reduction in domestic violence. IRT’s StepUp training programme, in partnership with the Organisation for Community Action (OCA) in Uganda, has knock-on effects in all aspects of the community. The programme is responsible for changing ideas around the […]
IRT examines how StepUp communities are improving intrahousehold relations, including an increase in gender equality and reduction in domestic violence.
IRT’s StepUp training programme, in partnership with the
Organisation for Community Action (OCA) in Uganda, has knock-on effects in all
aspects of the community. The programme is responsible for changing ideas
around the household, gender norms and family values. By helping participants
to envision a better life and providing the means to achieve it, married
couples, families and widows, have turned their lives around.
We have observed from case studies of StepUp participants in
the West Nile region of Uganda that developing pride in the home is
particularly important for developing this ambition and for gaining respect in
communities; turning feelings of hopelessness into empowerment. Programmes to
improve sanitation and other domestic practices, for example, are thus very
effective. As home dwellers change their living conditions it not only improves
their health and economic opportunities but helps change their mentality. Husbands
and wives coming together to implement their StepUp training and achieve their
goals has reduced domestic violence and conflict and increased unity and gender
equality. Women’s participation in the training has changed community perceptions
of women and their abilities. Husbands have come to view their wives as
empowered and knowledgeable, and widows have also gained more respect in their
One especially inspiring story comes from Faiza and Malaika. This married couple say that “before OCA came to our village we had no focus in all that we did as a family. We were not organised because we did not have a picture of what our future would look like. We never worked together as a couple. We had no sanitation facilities like a latrine, refuse pit, dish drying rack, or clothes drying line. Our home was not fenced and the compound was littered with rubbish. We could only afford one meal and only ate what we were able to get each day meaning we did not care the type of food served. We did not have any source of income yet we never planned and budgeted together the little we earned individually. We fell sick more frequently from preventable diseases, such as coughs, typhoid and intestinal worms, due to the unhygienic home and poor nutrition.” In addition, the couple had little respect for each other, creating a source of conflict and unhappiness.
They continue, “When OCA came to our community, they created awareness and trained us in different skills. We specifically want to acknowledge that our perception of life and the future has changed. We now have a dream which we are strategically working to achieve. We have set our homestead well planted with a live fence, we constructed a dish drying rack and refuse pit and our home has become the cleanest in the whole Village. We are in the process of constructing our latrine with slabs, iron roofing and plastered with cement. We have planted a variety of fruit trees and vegetables and have been taught how to handle, prepare and preserve vegetables and fruits to ensure their nutritional values are maintained. With improved sanitation and hygiene and good nutrition, we do not fall sick frequently. We are becoming more food secure as a result of the various skills in agriculture. OCA taught us to stay in harmony as couples and with our neighbours, as well as to plan and budget together as couples, which has reduced conflict in our community.” Faiza says, “My husband values me more and feels proud being by my side. He supports me so much in what traditionally used to be regarded as the role of women such as sweeping, cooking, caring for children and fetching water”. Malaika adds “we are a living testimony of an improved relationship and rebuilt love. I love my wife more than ever before. I protect her against harm.”
“With all the trainings and support given to us by OCA, we have a clear vision. We plan to construct a permanent house, start an income generating activity by engaging in intensive vegetable growing alongside a small-scale business that will support us financially, and open a bank account as we are now used to saving regularly in the group, something we never did before. We have a bright future for our children by working hard to pay for better schools for them,” shared Faiza and Malaika. The OCA staff testify to the remarkable love story of this couple. Malaika and Faiza now refer to each other as “honey”, a true reflection of their renewed relationship.
StepUp Success Stories: Hope for Widow Gotiliva
November 10, 2020
Madeleine Cuckson IRT volunteer Madeleine Cuckson writes about how Gotiliva transformed her life with StepUp as part of our #StepUpSuccessStories series. Gotiliva is one of many beneficiaries whose life has been turned around with the help of IRT’s Step Up programme in Uganda. After losing her husband, Gotiliva was left devastated with little hope for […]
IRT volunteer Madeleine Cuckson writes about how Gotiliva transformed her life with StepUp as part of our #StepUpSuccessStories series.
Gotiliva is one of many beneficiaries whose life has been turned around with the help of IRT’s Step Up programme in Uganda. After losing her husband, Gotiliva was left devastated with little hope for the future. She had no financial support and lived within very basic means, describing how she had ‘no dish drying rack, no latrine, no refuse pit for dumping rubbish’. Gotiliva used traditional farming methods to cultivate her land but this incurred large amounts of time, excursion and didn’t achieve a good harvest, leaving Gotiliva with close to nothing to survive off.
The StepUp programme provided Gotiliva with the building
and agricultural training necessary to live a full life again, earn a good wage
and harvest crops using more effective farming practices. Gotiliva has now
constructed a high-quality latrine with a washing facility attached, a dish
drying rack and a better kitchen with a larger variety of vegetables on raised
beds. Not only does Gotiliva feel happier with her home and livelihood, she is
a self-sufficient member of her community – “I dress better and eat well…I
am so much respected in the community”.
The real impact of StepUp’s life-changing work is always
shown through our programme beneficiaries’ stories. For Gotiliva, the programme
has provided her with a new lease of life and a powerful future:
“I have followed my dreams to achieve a permanent house,
serious savings to acquire those household items that I do not have now, such
as better bedding, utensils, plant more fruit, agroforestry and timber trees. My
dream is to live a better life and die a happy woman, a woman of value and
substance who will always leave a legacy in the community for other women to
As Step Up continues to expand, we aim to bring our
training and support programme to even more communities, with the help of our
dedicated partners at OCA who implement this programme in communities across
IRT needs donors to be able to continue our valuable work.
If you would like to make a difference to the
lives of vulnerable farmers in northern Uganda, please consider donating today. You can do this
through our website at
https://www.irt.org.uk/donate/ or by calling our office on 020 8994 9120.
Progress in Grain Processing for StepUp Farmers
October 6, 2020
The Apala Farmers’ Collective has gone from strength to strength following the installation of a maize mill. During 2018, IRT were able to fund a grain store and drying area for nine communities in Okwangole Parish in Lira, northern Uganda. The communities taking part were rural returnee farmers who had participated in our StepUp scheme […]
The Apala Farmers’ Collective has gone from strength to strength following the installation of a maize mill.
During 2018, IRT were able to fund a grain store and drying
area for nine communities in Okwangole Parish in Lira, northern Uganda. The communities taking part were rural
returnee farmers who had participated in our StepUp scheme
following returning to their villages after the brutal devastation of The Lord’s
These farmers had transformed their lives, from surviving on one meal a day to running successful farms, all through participating in StepUp. When the grain store was built in 2018, the farmers in the Okwangole region formed The Apala Collective, with the intention of working together to store and sell produce in bulk to buyers, which they have been doing ever since.
The Apala Collective were thrilled with the grain store, but knew they could increase their profits even further through the installation of a maize mill. IRT were able to fund this during 2020, and the maize mill was built and installed in just under a month, with StepUp participants contributing their time and labour to help.
Despite the challenges of Covid-19, the entrepreneurial farmers have hit the ground running since the installation of a maize hurler and grain processing machine at the grain store. The site is now a fully-fledged hub where farmers can store, dry, bulk and process grains such as maize, millet, sorghum and cassava. Customers can also bring their own grains and pay to process them at the mill.
Interviews were held for the position of machine operators, and the successful candidates have now completed their training and are able to operate the processing machine with ease. Apala Cooperative is now proud to own the best maize machine in the Okwangole area! The increased profits made from selling processed maize (known locally as ‘posho’) means the farmers have increased their savings, which they use towards making home and farm improvements, and, vitally, sending their children to school.
This is a fantastic example of how agricultural training, long-term investment and hard-work can come together to create sustainable, long-term solutions to poverty. IRT continue to run StepUp alongside our partners on the ground, OCA, every year due to its proven track record of increasing self-sufficiency and access to education, provision of financial stability for participants and improvement of health and sanitation for returnee farmers. All StepUp projects and programmes are designed based on a participatory approach whereby all stakeholders are involved right from problem identification, project design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.