This is discussion about Demonstrating technologies that work in trasnforming rural agriculture for sustainable development.
Great that URDT acknowledges the relevance of indigenous knowledge of farmers. In my exprience they have a lot of wisdom and amazing technologies that are getting lost in the name of 'modernization'. Also in the development of new energy saving technologies the relevance of their input is often not appreciated or gender aspects are not taken into consideration. I am looking forward to read about your findings. I will also dig into my network and literature for any relevant information that can contribute the success of this project.I sincerely hope you are going to be amongst the final finalists!
These folks have cracked the nut of how to do rural devlopment right. Two key ideas underlie their work:
1. Development must be INTEGRATED, addressing each of the issues that can block it: sanitation, health, education, vocational and entrepreneurship training, political participation, agricultural methods, land rights, human rights, gender issues and more. URDT has established branches to engage each of these, and those branches reinforce one another. URDT turns out social and business entrepreneurs: job creators, not job seekers.
2. Development must be FROM THE BOTTOM UP. The greatest impediment to development is fatalism, the sense that "nothing I can do will make a difference." Much well-intentioned "aid" perpetuates this sense of powerlessness. As Musheshe has said, "No one can develop you but you yourself". URDT has developed very effective techniques to energize, educate and empower individuals and communities to envision in precise detail what they want, and then to take the steps needed to make their vision real. URDT's motto says it all: "Awakening the sleeping genius in each of us."
Two amazing stats:
1. In the area served by their community radio station, voter participation has increased from 45% to 80%. Where else have you ever heard of such a gain? And people in URDT's area are steadfast in their opposition to corruption.
2. Family incomes of students in the URDT Girls School increase by 20%. Not years later, but WHILE THE GIRLS ARE IN SCHOOL, the result of URDT's two-generation educational approach, with its novel "back home projects."
Think about what that means: all over the world, kids drop out of school because they and their families cannot take the income loss that staying in school entails. But instead of a loss, URDT induces a gain of 20%. What family would NOT want their kid to go to such a school? And what kid would not want to go to a school offering that kind of empowerment?
URDT's excellent results need support. Here is rural development done right. The world needs to hear more about it.
Tom, I fully agree that the world needs to know more about URDT and how its unique home-grown institutions produces a different breed of leaders in Africa.
URDT’s emerging African Rural University (ARU) for women is another amazing strategy of URDT to developing a pool of value driven, focused and competent rural transformation agents. This emerging institution is to bring a systemic change in the education sector as well as a paradigm shift in rural transformation approaches and technologies. ARU aims to develop female leaders who are not only academically trained in rural transformation but also i) willing to actively participate in socio-economic empowerment of the marginalized and ii) capable to provide a rigorous scientific input in the design and practice of rural development processes grounded in the belief that participation and involvement of rural people in local governance is key to self-generating development and leads to sustainable development.
For example, ARU students learn i) theories and techniques to empower the communities in a holistic way towards self-reliance and self-help; ii) practical skills like the HRB approach to programming vs the traditional needs based approach; iii) the application of systems thinking and the principles of the creative process in the design and implementation of integrated development programmes.
Uniquely, the rural communities of Kibaale District are committed to act as social laboratories for collective learning. Therefore, ARU can offer academic education in a rural setting. This set-up promises that ARU graduates can be employed to both support district government and other development agents like CBOs to play their respective developmental roles.
I have seen presentations on URDT work for many years and met the executive and a woman who is the key planner. They have novel and effective methods of human development, that is, developing humanity, that we in the US could learn from. They value and empower the voice of girls, boys, women, and men. The community has many many results and new skills. I love this project.
The most critical and innovative aspect of the URDT programme, and which contributes to its success, is the fact that it did away with old fashioned and widely used problem solving (you remember the problem trees?) and uses a visionary approach to plan intervention with farmers. By using visionary and systems thinking, URDT mobilises the positive energy in communities, helps them to analyse the resources at their disposal, and behave pro-actively rather than re-actively, The emphasis on what can go right rather than what has gone wrong, empowers farmers and holds them responsible for their own development.
Secondly, URDT integrates their outreach programme with a wider formal education effort, and thereby fuses in the farming community indigenous knowledge with scientific knowledge. This is in recognition of the fact that in light of the rapid changes in rural communities in Africa, indigenous knowledge alone cannot take the farming community forward.
The URDT programme is innovative and unique in Uganda and is widely appreciated. It deserves all the support it can get to widen its impact in the region and to disseminate its approach across the world
URDT is doing much more in the area of technology development and rural transformation. For example, it has trained 20 female rural transformation specialists at academic level in Technologies for Rural Transformation and over 1000 women specifically in the area of gender, development and rural technologies. It has a demonstration farm, develops and disseminates appropriate technologies like solar panels, solar dryers, low cost water jars, drip irrigation and fuel wood saving stoves to rural communities.
Over the years, URDT has established several educational institutions grounded in URDT’s values, believes, mission and 20 years of rural transformation experience. The URDT Girls’ School, the community radio, KKCR, the URDT Institute for Vocational studies and the emerging African Rural University (ARU) for women have proven to be effective strategies to developing a pool of value driven, focused and competent rural transformation agents that impact positively at issues related to health, peace, prosperity, happiness and freedom at individual, household, community and district levels.
I have been privileged to know the leaders of this organization for over two decades and to witness the growth in Kibaale catalyzed by their commitment to a Ugandan people who can create for themselves: peace, prosperity, health, freedom and happiness.
Uganda Rural Development and Training Programme (URDT) has spent over 20 years cultivating strong relationships with the people of Kibaale district, western Uganda, at all levels of society -- farmers, police, business people, clergy, political leaders, etc. To empower the local people, URDT develops education, training, information sharing, organization structures, and infrastructure like roads, schools, and their very popular community radio station (KKCR).
In this project to make scholar farmers and their successful farming practices more visible and repeatable, KKCR, the community radio, will be a big asset. Over 2 million listeners appreciate KKCR for its information, educational programmes, and microphones that give voice to the unheard. Scholar farmers can speak (in their local language) on this radio station, encouraging other small plot farmers, and bringing dignity, interest, and improvement to their endeavors.
The URDT proposal gives details of their intended work. However, I wanted to highlight this great benefit of the community radio, KKCR, that resides on the URDT campus and serves the whole district.
One of URDT's innovations that is most exciting to me is the way they have altered the promise of education for young women. Rather than focusing on getting an education so that they will be able to get a job when they grow up, the girl and her family acquire the knowledge and skills to lift the entire family out of poverty while she is still in school. In the process each student becomes an agent for change in her village/community.
I've had the privilege of volunteering annually for three to eight weeks each year, working and consulting at URDT for the past ten years. Ten years ago the estimated population of the Kagadi Sub-County was 2,500. The population two years ago was estimated at 30,000. This fantastic growth from a rural crossroads trading center to a vibrant learning center of rural Uganda is due to the many training programs of URDT. The URDT Vocational Institute produces young craftsmen and craftswomen with skills and craft-ship relative and critical to making the rural areas attractive, not only sustainable but profitable. Kagadi town has many new streets lined with new and vibrant businesses providing all goods and services as a result of URDT training.
The URDT Girls School is a full board and dormitory facility for 250 exceptional students that are challenged to take what they have learned and apply it to impoverished locations from which they come. Housing and farming improvements are evident everywhere in the Kagadi Sub-County.
Women farmers and their families have learned to form cooperative savings and credit societies as safe places to save, and to provide low cost credit to each other to start their own businesses, such as restaurants, or small shops, or purchase land, or animals to expand their farm. These S & Ls also make loans to parents for school fees, books and uniforms so their children can go to school.
URDT's African Rural University for Women expands the vision for the Girls School graduates to get a degree in Rural Development that would never be available to them if they were economically forced to migrate to the larger cities for work or training.
Within the last two years the Government of Uganda has recognized Kagadi's growth by adding Kagadi and URDT to the national power grid.
URDT's methodologies and successes need to be supported, encouraged, and copied throughout the developing world.
I have had to refer to Kibaale district as a millennium district. Its history of marginalization and neglect by successive regimes has not prevented it from making major strides towards the Millennium Development Goals. The region has emerged as a food basket feeding millions of hungry Ugandans. Schools promoting girls education have sprung up, women emancipation has taken off, the HIV prevalence rates have reduced drastically, a development partnership has been struck and all these grandmarks have been done with in the environmental sustainability frame work-its a model district and credit goes to the creative development interventions by a very effective but less known Uganda Rural Development and Training program.
Where else would you find a development program intergrating organically; a simple concept of agriculture development-a community radio station, a school for girls from poor households, demonstration farms, an all women's university and a vocational institute have been strategically put in place to support this idea. Its the only single program I have known for tackling child and maternal mortality through food security, the ICTs and girl child education under the slogans:"Educate a man and you educate an individual but educate a woman and you educate the nation"
The organization is successfully dismantling the visious cycle of poverty and demonstrating that the Millennium Development Goals are achievable by 2015 if everyone plays their role.
Supporting URDT will make its work visible and more doors will open for the advancement of its noble work.
On July 10, 2009 the judges reviewed the entries for the Changemakers “Cultivating Innovations: Solutions for Rural Communities” competition and would like to pass on the following feedback (listed below) for your entry. Thank you for applying and for your hard work in the field. We are excited to archive your entry to serve as a leading solution for the worldwide community of innovators. We wish you continued luck with your innovative, sustainable, and socially impactful initiatives.
All the best, The Changemakers Team
“I valued the respect accorded to the farmers and the process by which they became an integral part of the sourcing and disseminating of ideas. Overall, these types of models can be very successful and have worked in central America. This initiative teaches the valuable lesson of respectfully helping, while avoiding patronizing, others.”
“This is a fantastic initiative designed to raise people's self-esteem and pride in discovering and valuing their personal talents.The challenge in a type of program like this is maintaining impact and sustainability when implementing a plethora of ambitious objectives. It is hard to plan for the amount of resources that are needed to knit everything together. Possibly if this initiative selected a few major focuses, there might be a clearer view of what success might look like.”
“I thought the deep academic analysis and study was extensive, and I would like to hear more about the specific metrics and forecast of results. I liked the initiative because the role of the facilitator was just that; it was not to run the program but facilitate it. This initiative is a strong empowerment process and I would like to see it packaged in a way that it can be translated to other areas of the world.”
- Changemakers “Cultivating Innovations: Solutions for Rural Communities” Judges: TED, General Mills, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, StuffedandStarved.org, Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute for Ecological Research).