Returning home after 10 years of fleeing conflict in Uganda

May 2, 2018

Michael and Esther from Uganda, lived in an Internally Displaced Person’s camp for over 10 years after fleeing from the Karamajong cattle rustlers and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

When they returned to their home in the Amuria District in North Eastern Uganda, they were hit by food insecurity as they had a lot of land but couldn’t till it. Often, they really struggled to afford even just one meal a day.

This is a reality many people face in the Amuria district, where for more than six decades there has been repeated conflict and insecurity. Many people like Michael and Esther were forced from their homes into government protected camps. And, although a fragile peace has allowed the population to resettle, people have often returned to an unfamiliar and overgrown land, with few possessions and skills with which to begin their new life.

To add to this, recent years have brought severe and erratic weather patterns, leading to poor quality crops and low yields. As people’s livelihoods are mostly dependent on subsistence farming, poverty and food insecurity are rife in the district – with over 70% of the population living below the poverty line. Our local partner organization, VAD, undertook a research in 2012 that indicated only half the population in Amuria eats only one meal per day.

Michael and Esther’s story exemplifies this. When they returned home, they relied on development agencies and the government to get through the weeks. They were struggling so much that the community were really worried and so put them forward to be supported by our project.

We were able to give Michael and Esther maize, beans, rice and green gram seeds as well as training and group support. In addition, our project provided vegetable seeds to farmer groups and Esther and Michael transplanted, wed, sprayed, harvested and sold these vegetables in a nearby local market. Not only did the harvests help them to eat healthier and more nutritious food, but they were also able to save enough food to take the household through until the next harvesting season, to earn an income and to keep seeds for the next planting season.

Michael said:

“It is neither too late nor too hard to earn an income from agriculture. I wish I had planted more than I did, as I would be one of the richest in the village. I am eagerly waiting for the next rainy season to plant more on a large piece of land and earn a living from it. And, I pledge to support my wife, Esther, in agriculture.

“This was our first time to earn and count an income of 400K (£78) in 45 years [an income earned over the four-month harvest season]. We shall put this money back into cultivation to increase our production. Our heartfelt appreciation goes to VAD, Feed the Minds and Big Lottery Fund for equipping us with seeds, new agronomic skills, group formation, provision of Knapsack sprayers and pesticides which have helped us spray our crops and many others”.

Working with our in-country partner, Voluntary Action Development (VAD), this project, funded by Big Lottery Fund, has been providing training in vocational and business skills to vulnerable men, women and young people living in severe poverty, to increase their income levels. We are helping people to set up saving groups and access micro-finance, and are also working to help women and young people to have a greater say in decisions affecting their lives. If you would like to make a donation to help us continue our life-changing work around the world, please click here