Friday, October 3, 2008

Notes from the field, Uganda

I am currently in Uganda preparing for a second phase to the NUSAF impact evaluation I am working on. I have another blog where I have some details of the evaluation here, and my previous travel blog from Uganda is here.

I arrived in Kampala on 19 September for some meetings, then went to Gulu on the 27th to organize my work, and am now in the West Nile region.

I arrived in Nebbi district, in the south of West Nile, on Wednesday. I was surprised to find that the people here are in fact Luo, and so speak the same language as the Acholi. This means I have a few more days before I have to learn a new language for “hello”, “thank you” and “how are you?” Given how bad I am at picking up languages, I am glad for the delay.

Despite being a small town with nothing much, I like Nebbi town a lot. It is much cooler than Gulu, and, since it is at the beginning of the rift valley, there are beautiful green hills everywhere.

On Thursday I went out to a town far in the mountains behind Nebbi town to visit with some of the youth groups that are going to be funded by NUSAF. I wanted to get an idea of the quality of the work done during the first baseline in February, as well as take the opportunity to get to know some of the new recipients.

Probably the most interesting thing I learned on that visit was that being a recipient of NUSAF is stressful. To receive funding for training and tools, a person must create (or join) a group of 15 to 30 other people that want to get similar training, find people from the community to support them, have a few group meetings, fill out a bunch of paperwork, and then wait.

Then wait some more.

Some of these people have been waiting over a year and a half. Some get disheartened and leave. Those groups that are funded though have their own problems. Other groups in the community that did not receive funding are often jealous. The NUSAF people can themselves seem a little scary as, in the interest of ensuring there is no misuse of the funds, they ask a lot of questions. One of the people I spoke to reported that the process had caused him to have nightmares for a while.

Today I visited some previously funded youth groups from October 2006. One group was doing quite well, while the other, composed of disabled people, had failed completely.

The successful group had a great facilitator from the community. He’s a successful social worker with good contacts in the community, pushed the group to succeed, has given them good advice, comes by often, and is even pushing them to get additional business training.

Of course, the group also looks to have some good members. One of them had worked in the shop the last week for over 50 hours. The group also seems to be working together quite well.

I pre-tested with this group an instrument I have designed in order to better capture the profits of the groups. In general it went well, but since this group works so closely, it is hard to separate out the assets each person uses. I think another draft or two and I may have it down.

The failed group had some of their money stolen by their facilitator, group leader and community development officer. With the money they had left, they accidentally bought the wrong equipment, which they can’t find because the group leader kept it. To make matters worse, the facilitator and group leader recently died, so NUSAF is unable to help them. The police are moving slow, and the district office has given up.

NUSAF is a difficult project. It is so much money, and so many people are involved, corruption and mismanagement are very common.

I’ll try to update more in the next few days, and I’ll eventually figure out how to get some pictures up.

1 comment:

priya said...
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