Shared Action Africa equipped 50 refugee women and girls in Nakivale Refugee Settlement with business skills and financial literacy, customer care, marketing, records keeping as well as tailoring skills.
38-year-old Bijou Shala a participant was able to set up a tailoring business after the training from which she an average daily income of UGX 26,000.
“On completing this course, I purchased a sewing machine using my savings of UGX 600,000. I set up a workshop at my home to reduce the walking distance as well as rent fees. I am able to sew women’s clothes and shorts for males using African fabrics from DRC and Tanzania which I get cheaply. I also do one-off jobs such as repairing torn clothes.
I also get to teach people especially the young girls how to sew. I believe it is important for young refugee girls to have a skill that they can use to attain income anywhere they go. I have trained five girls and 3 older women in making dresses and making cloth repairs.
I feel so proud to be able to take care of my family of five. Though our needs are still many, I am able to meet the critical or basic needs. Moreover, having a certificate from the training makes me happy and I feel a sense of accomplishment. Before the training, I did the petty business of selling small items like sweets which earned very little in that in the day I could get only UGX 3,000 on average.
My business needs more capital to grow as I want to get more fabrics and expand my space to reach more clients as well as provide training to more people at a small cost. I also want to use social media to market my products.
I am respected in my community by both men and women because they see the positive change I am contributing to.
Thank you Shared Action Africa for changing my life.”
We are committed to promoting sustainable access to enough food, proper nutrition, and incomes for refugee women. Through forming collectives advocating for increased allocation to land as a resource of production, refugee women are able to influence strategies and policies to promote their livelihood. From the allocation of land plots from 40 by 80 feet to at least three quarters to an acre for agricultural production, refugee women are achieving such results through engaging duty bearers. Through advocacy actions such as developing strategies, tactics in engaging duty bearers, submitting petitions, and follow up, refugee women are evolving into leaders that are influencing their communities in the Nakivale refugee settlement.
“With the increased allocation to land, I am able to practice better methods of farming and resultantly improve my production for food security and nutrition as well as income generation,” 41-year-old Julie (DRC) caretaker of 7 family members.
Increased access to Ecostove by commercial food vendors in local markets has had a significant reduction in energy costs, and reliance on biomass for cooking energy.
Shared Action Africa has an Eco fund that supports women both in business and homes to get cooks stoves on credit to support their work.
58-year Nalongo Kinene a food vendor in the Nakawa market is grateful for having got the cookstoves in doing her 15-year business.
I purchased a cookstove in 2019 on the credit of UGX 900,000 which I was able to pay back. Using this eco stove has reduced my fuel expenses. When I used traditional biomass, I needed 2 bags of charcoal per month each costing UGX 100,000 making a total of UGX 200,000 per month ($54.79). However, with the eco stove, I use one sack of charcoal dust per month which I get at UGX 8,000/= ($2.18). With this saving, I was able to repay my loan in time.
I also prepare meals within a shorter time i.e. from 7 hours to 5 hours now. This saves me time which I put to other use in business. Moreover, the timely preparation of meals is important in my business because I am able to provide food for my clients within a short time. This is because the stove has the ability to emit the maximum energy needed to cook fast because it has been designed in such a way that the user can moderate the amount of energy needed to suit their cooking needs.
The eco cookstove too does not emit fumes when lighting it, unlike the traditional charcoal stove that needs a lot of paper to light it up. It also has a proper storage compartment for the ash which makes it easy for me to collect the ash at the end of the day when I am done with the cooking and dispose of it well. Ash does not get littered as I do the cooking because the ash compartment is well enclosed. This keeps my cooking place clean and hygienic.
Ecostoves are good for business and homes. I believe that many people especially in urban areas would like to acquire them.
SAA supported 10 refugee women in Nakivale Refugee Settlement with cookstoves to promote the use of energy-efficient cookstoves given the limited access to fuel in the settlement.
26-year-old Monique mother of two and a refugee from Rwanda was among the beneficiaries who testify that having a cookstove has reduced the amount of effort in terms of time and energy she puts into preparing meals.
‘’My name is Monique Makengo. Through the training and support from Shared Action Africa, I saved up UGX 800,000 which I used to buy the energy-saving stove. I was tired of using firewood for cooking and it was becoming scarce with the high rate of cutting of trees in the settlement. I used to walk long distances (about 3 Kms) to get firewood in that I had to close my shop; this made me lose out on income during this time. In addition, I had no one to leave my three young children with hence I had to request neighbors to keep them whenever I went to get firewood. so that I can stop using firewood for cooking. I also had to wake up very early in the morning at times which was uncomfortable and very tiring.
With the cookstove, I don’t have to go through all the trouble since I use one bag of sawdust. I also spend less i.e. from UGX 88,000 on fuel to UGX 10,000 on sawdust per month. In addition, the cookstove is less straining in lighting up. I use less time to prepare meals from 4.5 hours to at least 3 hours a day. I use this time for my business and spending time with my saving group as we learn different things. I also get to boil our drinking water which was not the case before since I was sparing the firewood. The cookstove is also smoke-free which makes the cooking experience a delight. There is such a high demand for these stoves in my community especially among women due to their health benefits as well as their cost-effectiveness.
Though it may seem like a small item, this cookstove has changed my life in so many ways. I am grateful to Shared Action Africa for this support.”
Maria Katusingye is a 26-year-old mother of 4 children who opted to use Jadelle after her third born. Through the weekly home to home visits and monthly community awareness sessions conducted by Village Health Teams working with Shared Action Africa, Maria got more information on the different methods of family planning hence was able to make a choice to use Jadelle.
“Because I had limited information on family planning, I was not able to space my first three children the way I wanted having given birth to them within 3 consecutive years. This had negative effects on my health as I constantly felt weak and I could not properly engage in profitable work.
Through the outreaches organized by Shared Action Africa working together with the village health teams and health workers, I got to access family planning services. My fourth child was a planned birth and it gave me control circumstances. I am able to work in my business with no encumbrance related to my reproductive health,” said Maria a refugee mother living in Nakivale Refugee Settlement.
28-year old Fezascola Kabana from DRC has 4 children while 2 passed on. Due to limited access to information and family planning services, she was not able to properly space her children in the way she wanted to.
“Through the community family planning health education and service camps organized by Shared Action Africa, I got information on the different family planning methods and I was able to start using an Implanon for 9 months now. The camp increased access to the family planning services to my fellow women and me because before it was expensive to go to the health facility.
Moreover, I regularly get information from a village health team member in my village hence I feel very comfortable with my method of choice. Being able to plan my births has only helped improve my health but has also improved my income as I can now spend enough time in my business. I am able to take care of my children and I am not worried about an unplanned pregnancy,” said Feza
Improving the knowledge and skills of health workers to provide quality family planning services.
Improving the knowledge and skills of health workers to provide quality family planning services.
Jessica, an enrolled midwife at Nakivale health center iii is one of the participants in the training Shared Action Africa conducted among the 20 frontline health workers (midwives) from 7 health centers to provide family planning services and cervical cancer screening to or refugee women in Nakivale Refugee Settlement. The theory and practical training equipped the health workers with knowledge and skills to provide quality integrated family planning and long-acting family planning services to maximize the availability and accessibility of FP services at all levels of family planning service delivery.at Nakivale Health Centre III, working in the maternity ward. She is one of the frontline line workers trained in the provision of family planning methods and cervical cancer training.
“I can now administer cervical cancer screening and can properly diagnose it and support women who have it. I also gained skills in the administration of both short-term and long-term family planning methods, but I am particularly for the new knowledge on the insertion and removal of IUDs, use of female condoms, and cervical cancer screening. I had never seen a female condom before the training but now I know how to use it. I can offer a wide range of family planning services. Since the training, the number of family planning users has increased from 50 to 70 per week. Much as we still have to deal with a lot of misconceptions, cultural beliefs, and wrong information in the community concerning the use of family planning, we the health workers are more empowered to support the women and girls that come to the health center to receive health
The training also improved my customer care skills as I serve the women and girls who come to the facility. Some of them can’t properly express themselves in the common language but I can understand what they are saying. This training enabled me to understand the human rights-based approaches to providing quality care.
Nevertheless, the demand exceeds the supply; due to a large number of refugees in the settlement, we have limited resources in terms of manpower and supplies. This causes unwanted pregnancies leaving many women and girls in vulnerable situations. Passing on this knowledge and skills to Village health teams will go a long way to increase the number of FP users and cervical cancer screening since people will be more aware and services will be brought nearer to them.”
There is a need to increase access to PPE in resource-poor areas such as Refugee Settlements …. particularly to resource-poor communities.
Due to the uncontrolled movements of people across the Uganda and Tanzania border, Rubondo Health Centre II in Nakivale Refugee Settlement is now located in an area that is threatened by a potential outbreak of covid-19. The situation has worsened due to the unavailable access to PPE and other hygiene supplies to protect vulnerable populations such as refugees from COVID-19.
Hedwig works as a midwife with Rubondo Health Centre II situated at the Uganda Tanzania Border and serves Nakivale Refugee Settlement. Given that the health centre is close to the border of Tanzania and Uganda, it gets patients from both countries including the refugee’s settlements. With limited COVID-19 testing available for everyone, there is an increasing risk of spreading the virus.
As a health worker, we are in constant fear of contracting the disease as we are expected to continue providing our services amidst this pandemic. By the nature of our job, we are in constant proximity with our patients, and protecting ourselves is becoming increasingly harder due to limited access to PPE.
Consequently, the health workers such as Hedwig have become increasingly vulnerable to COVID-19, and the situation is worsened because they cannot access COVID-19 testing when they need. This is true because COVID-19 tests are unavailable in remote areas of the country such as Nakivale Refugee settlement which is located more than 380 kilometres away from the capital. Therefore health workers in these remote are constantly worried that they will not only catch the disease but are mentally by the mere thought of infecting their family members weighs a lot of our mental health.
The health workers mental state is further affected by the limited knowledge in diagnosing COVID-19, particularly in the absence of proper testing as well as other respiratory diseases having similar symptoms. Therefore, receiving updated information on COVI9-19 and regular training on how to handle patients that might display symptoms attributed to COVID-19 would go a long way in addressing their fears and mental health amidst the pandemic,
We are therefore grateful for our collaboration with Shared Action Africa that helps us access PPE and other hygiene supplies that have enabled us to continue providing the essential health services to the refugee and host communities in Nakivale Refugee Settlement. We are also hopeful that through this partnership, health workers will receive the psychosocial support we need to remain mentally stable and continue to provide quality health care services to our patients.
Harriet worked as a midwife at Reco Health Center IV in Nakivale Refugee Settlement when covid-19 broke out. As a frontline health worker, she was expected to continue providing health care to the patients in the refugee settlement that visited the poorly equipped health facility to handle covid-19 patients. The health facilities in the refugee settlement lacked adequate information on the disease as well as supplies such as PPE and hygiene supplies to protect the health workers and patients from the disease. Therefore, having to work under these highly challenging conditions has increased the increased risk health workers in the refugee settlement experiencing mental health problems.
I remember the fear and panic among our health team on the first day we got a patient of COVID-19. Though we had to carry out business as usual, we could not shake off the feeling of contracting the novel virus. With time, we have seen more patients of COVID-19 at our health facility but this does not make it easier on us. In addition, the quarantine center is near our health center so we are afraid of getting in contact with people who would potentially be infected. Moreover, ours is a service of proximity hence we can’t afford to social distance. Not so long ago, we had a mother who tested positive for COVID-19 and was referred to Mbarara hospital. This puts us in a position of being scared of the people we are serving. In a day, our facility serves approximately sixty to seventy people in a day and these people come from around ten villages. But then, some of the people who come in to use the services are not protected! They don’t have protective gear because they can’t afford it or don’t know the importance. This is made worse due to their refugee status that makes them more vulnerable. Most are still not aware of the protective and safety measures against COVID-19.
Having such an unsettled mind affects the entire person and having a peer to peer support, continuously updated information on COVID-19 and supportive supervision will go a long way to help us cope with the virus. Getting enough protective gear such as masks, specs, gloves, aprons are very paramount for us to serve the community with reduced fear of acquiring the novel virus. Due to lack, we are at times we are forced to reuse items like disposable masks which is very unhealthy. Our health center has put in place protective gear such as hand washing facilities, temperature guns, and alcohol sanitizer.
More than having the protective gear is our need for counseling and other psycho-socio therapies to protect our mental and emotional health. At the bare minimum, we need psycho-socio support on a bi-weekly basis so that we serve our communities better while taking care of our emotional needs.
Supporting women’s leadership through expanded financial and market inclusion, integrated with access to comprehensive sexual and health and rights, and combined with increased resilience to climate change, will result in sustainable, equitable and thriving communities, families, and nations.
Welcome to our blog. Here, we’ve gathered stories and videos about our program participants whose lives have changed for the better because they have access to economic opportunities, can make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, are food and nutrition secure, and living in harmony with the environment.