Birgitte Qvist-Sørensen is in West Nile in northwestern Uganda, where +1,000,000 refugees from DR Congo and South Sudan have arrived over the past five years – and continue to come.
On her 2nd day in the region, she visited our bakery project. Here is how her day went.
8 am: From the morning a small bakery in the center of Arua is in full swing. Around the packing table, 15 young bakers stand and pack freshly baked buns and large square toast bread in bags. The baked goods are sold to hotels and restaurants locally and nationally.
The bakery is a catalyst for entrepreneurship for young people in a region with high unemployment – opened for just that purpose. Here, young refugees and Ugandans receive a free four-week education in baking and business development, so they can start their own micro-bakery companies.
In the bakery, the orange sweet potatoes for which the area has become known are given a whole new lease of life. All bread, buns, cakes, cookies and salty crackers contain 20% cooked, pureed sweet potato or sweet potato flour as an alternative to the expensive imported wheat.
We are collaborating with our partner The JP Management Foundation on the bakery project, which is supported by the Foundation It Utility – and is part of the larger Fresh Fruit Nexus project on sweet potato cultivation, value chains and sustainable business models – supported by Danida Green Business Partnerships / Danida Market Development Partnerships.
10 am: In the bakery’s own shop, I meet Ugandan Sally Andresiru. She married at the age of 18 against her will, had a child, dropped out of school, and was left alone with the difficult task of supporting herself and her son. She therefore jumped right in when she got the opportunity for four weeks of practical bakery training. The site started baking at home and selling locally in their own name. The business grew, so she rents the bakery on an hourly basis to use the oven and space. Part of the profit she invested in a MobileMoney stall in the local market, and hired a helper. The next step is to buy land so she can build her own business. “I have a talent for business, which is why I have now returned to my studies and am studying a diploma in business administration,” she said. Well done, Sally!
4 p.m. Teak trees, teak trees, teak trees. Once I learn what they look like with their fine smooth trunks and large leaves, I spot them all over the place. 2.8 million trees have been planted in West Nile in the past four years – mixed varieties, but many of the precious teak trees provide the owners of the land with handsome incomes when the trees can be cut down in 15 years. The trees are planted with the support of Udenrigsministeriet and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency to replenish natural resources and create sustainability in the area. As +1,000,000 new citizens have arrived with the same need for wood for cooking as Ugandans, logging and the felling of trees has become rampant.
The newly planted trees are cared for by the Ugandan landowners, who give refugees access to grow vegetables under the trees.
This post is adapted from a post on LinkedIn by DanChurchAid.
You can follow DanChurchAid to learn more about her visit to West Nile.