Women on a Mission
“Our lives have tremendously changed over the past two years. You can see that the women in the group can take better care of themselves and their families,” Scovia, Itara Tweyambe Women VSLA’s Chairperson, expressed at the group’s monthly meeting.
The women in the Itara village take pride in the progress they have made – as individuals, households, and a community.
Situated in Mitooma district in Southwest Uganda, the Itara village community experienced multidimensional challenges that most last-mile villages are faced with. High food insecurity, low yields and incomes, limited access to services, and women experiencing higher levels of vulnerability than other groups due to additional social and economic barriers.
When Raising The Village (RTV) partnered with their community, the women of Itara village identified an opportunity and were determined to seize it.
As subsistence farmers with small pieces of land, these women relied on agriculture to feed their own families as well as generate income. Their lack of access to seeds, tools and knowledge of modern agricultural principles had compromised both the quality and quantity of their yields. As part of RTV’s program, they received quality seeds and attended several training sessions on Good Agricultural Practices. They have been putting the knowledge gained to good use.
“RTV has done a lot of things for us, but one thing I really appreciate is teaching us how to make composts because I get manure for our crops,” Ruth, a community member, shared. “We were given beans of good quality that require less maintenance now we are experiencing a better harvest.”
With RTV’s support, they formed the Itara Tweyambe Women Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) and set out to achieve ambitious goals for their group. This was an essential step to achieving financial advancement, as the VSLA encouraged members to save money, budget and access peer-led financial services. The group has 37 members, each saving UGX 3,000 ($0.9) every month. A total of UGX 2.9m ($755) is available for the members to borrow at a small interest. As a group, the VSLAs also sets goals for at least one community initiative that benefits all the group members. For Itara VSLA, the idea of a craft business emerged.
“Simon [RTV staff] trained us on life skills and the importance of income-generating initiatives. So, we started producing crafts to make additional income,” Scovia shared.
The members also bought chicken and goats for each of the group members. “We are waiting for all our goats to give birth, so we sell off some of them and buy a milking machine,” Scovia explained.
Whereas the Financial Literacy training they received as part of RTV’s Healthy Household Training is helping them save, budget, and manage their projects, other parts of the curriculum that focus on transforming attitudes in the entire community towards gender roles, and promoting women’s participation in leadership and household decision making have also been received well.
“We were taught togetherness. I appreciate that we were brought together at household level,” expressed Ruth.
“We learned how to handle our families and reduce the incidence of domestic violence in our community,” Scovia shared.
Lovance, another community and VSLA member added, “after the training, my husband and I began working together. We collaborate to save together and plan for the future together.”
This partnership with the Itara community has left a multidimensional impact on the lives of these remarkable women who, armed with new knowledge and skills, are committed to continuing the progress and growth for themselves, their families, and their entire community.