One village at a time

The Guardian Group in the UK has got together with Amref and Barclays to try “to enlist your help in improving the lives of the people of Katine sub-county, in north-east Uganda.” They call the initiative It Starts with a Village. And they say its aim is to lift Katine out of the Middle Ages, a time of “civil war, plague and ignorance.”

What do we hope to achieve over the three years of the plan? Quite a lot, we hope. In consultation with the people of Katine, Amref has drawn up an overview of local needs and a comprehensive plan (PDF file) for how it hopes to meet them.

That’s a lot of hope. In the agriculture sector, the workplan includes, among other things, organizing farmers’ groups, introducing and testing new crops and varieties, doing marketing studies and improving local marketing skills. You can get an idea of the challenges ahead by reading about Esau Edonu, a local farmer, and watching a short video. There does seem to be an awareness of the importance of agrobiodiversity, for example to adapt to climate change. Maybe the emphasis is a little too much on bringing in new things for the market. Anyway, the strong focus on adding value locally to agricultural biodiversity is surely a good idea.

I’m not sure what to think of this effort to privatize aid. Is it just another example of well-intentioned but ill-conceived European do-gooding in Africa? Or does it stand a chance of making a difference? I’ll be following its progress on the project blog. Maybe I’ll even make a donation

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