Monday, December 28, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

News from Uganda... Marriage and HIV bills

The "Marriage and Divorce Bill"
This bill is currently in hot debate all over the country - though the part of the bill most condemned by the international community, the bit criminalizing homosexuality, is the part most widely agreed upon by Ugandans.

For a detailed explanation of the anti-homosexual sections of the bill: 

For the latest on Museveni's apparent reluctance to pass the bill after international condemnation and threats to cut aid to Uganda (based on the anti-homosexual parts): 

On provisions of the bill affecting women (e.g. cohabitation recognised with regard to distribution of property at separation, widow inheritance abolished, impotent men to be divorced, bride price not to be compulsory)

While I am unable to find a link to any news about it, I believe that another section of this bill proposes short-term marriage contracts between men and women, where a reduced bride price could be paid to a woman's family in order to attain, say, a year's marriage contract. The contract could then be renewed if  both parties were interested.  This leaves interesting questions about the provision for children produced during such a short-term marriage

The "Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS Bill" 
A bill that critics say amounts to criminalizing HIV-positive status, might eliminate confidentiality of test results, could discourage individuals from getting tested or from disclosing their status, and will likely increase the level of HIV-transmission...

Explanation of bill

Human Rights Watch critique of bill: 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Are UVP gifts on your holiday wish list yet?

For anyone interested in giving charitable gifts this holiday season... we recommend you stop by our new Universal Giving site. This is a fantastic clearinghouse for gift packages and charitable projects, including volunteer opportunities.

In the meantime, we've also been listed on Grain Edit's holiday wish list, a design blog based in San Francisco. Thanks for the shout out, Grain Edit!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Uganda Facts

Just a few statistics on Uganda... 
  • Life expectancy: 49
  • Probability at birth of not surviving until age 40: 31.4%
  • Under-5 mortality rate: 130 in 1,000 live births
  • Percentage of HIV-positive adults: 5.4%
  • Children underweight for their age: 20% 
  • In East Africa, underweight prevalence is predicted to be 25% higher in 2015 than it was in 1990.
  • Uganda has the 3rd highest rate of malaria deaths in the world. 
  • In 2007, there were 47,000 reported deaths from Malaria (with likely double that or more unreported)
  • Percentage of adults with "low educational attainment" (as defined by the Human Development Index): 93.5%
  • Adult illiteracy rate: 26.4%
  • Population living under $1.25 a day: 51.5%
  • Population living under $2 a day: 75.6%
  • Government expenditure on health care per capita: $39
  • Urban share of Uganda's population: 11 - 13%
  • Total fertility rate: 6.4 
Fun facts about Uganda: 
  • When a Ugandan is explaining a direction or location, instead of pointing with their hand they often purse their lips out towards the direction.
  • Many Lusoga words repeat themselves.  For instance, "wala wala" means "far away," "mpola mpola means "slowly," and "kumpi kumpi" means "close by."  
  • Mangos currently cost 5 cents each 
  • Women are not meant to eat eggs, in Basoga culture, lest the forefathers curse us.
  • There are at least half a dozen types of banana commonly grown, likely more, each with their own name and purpose: bagoya, ndizi, gonja, matoke, etc. 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Give To The World

Do you have friends or family members who already have everything they need, or maybe just want gifts that are more meaningful this Christmas?

Try stopping by Uganda Village Project's Give To The World catalog, where you can find gifts from mosquito nets to vegetable gardens that will benefit small village communities in Uganda.

Not only are these gifts meaningful and life-saving, they are effective: 100% of the money you donate will go straight to Uganda to support your designated program, none of it will be spent on publicity or fundraising.

Our Etsy shop features cloth bags and jewelry made by Ugandan orphans who are trying to find a way to earn money for their schools and their families. They're beautiful and unique!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Red Dust

One of the things that I hate and love about Uganda is the dust. Ugandan earth is a dark red-brown, and so rust-colored dust lays over the villages in like a thin, almost-invisible cloak, billows up behind motorcycles and mini-buses on long dirt roads that run through the countryside like red rivers, sticks to your face and your arms and your clothes, gets in your food and your nose and your bed-sheets and your hair. It’s incessant, softly permanent, like the heat or the poverty of the place, patiently waiting for you to accept it, to resign yourself to it, and eventually to love it.

And you do – you learn to enjoy washing your hands and watching the water run off red, clear as you become clean. You learn to wear dark colors when your ride motorcycles, and to laugh at yourself and your clothes when you forget and come back dyed dark reddy-brown. You learn to sweep the floors during phone conversation, when you’re frustrated or thinking, while your water is boiling for tea, and to enjoy the satisfaction of that smooth, clean, tidy look that will last for approximately 3 hours before the next layer of dust rolls in. You learn to shower only at the very end of the day, when it's grown cool outside and you’re done with all your outdoor activities for the day, when you can sit afterwards inside your home feeling deliciously smooth and cool and clean all over.

You learn to live with the dust in Uganda, and you learn to love it, to understand it like a language or a lifestyle or a people. And when you return home to the United States, or to England, or to Canada, you’ll find that you miss the dust, and through that you’ll miss the country and the lifestyle and the language and the people. You’ll remember Uganda, and when you do, you’ll envision a long red road, twisting across a scrubby green landscape of bushes and trees and occasional thatch-roofed huts of red-brown mud, and the blue sky above like an expansive bubble, and the dust rising from little dirt paths and the long red road, rising like a breath, hovering, waiting, rising from the earth like a spirit, like the future, like the stained-red soul of the country, Uganda.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

improving health & sustaining local livelihoods

Meet Godfrey Mulumba, a 30-year-old rural artisan representing a nine member pottery cooperative in nearby Kamuli District. UVP speaks with Godfrey about his background and profession, his previous experience with the pottery business, and the impact of a partnership with UVP's Modified Clay Pot (Mod-Pot) Project on his income and livelihood.

UVP: How did you get started working as a potter?

Godfrey: My great grandfather started producing traditional clay pots in the 1930s. Knowledge was passed down to my father and he taught me how to make clay pots. I started making clay pots at 12 years of age and I am now teaching my son, Ronald, who is 10 years old.

UVP: Has the pottery business changed since when your father started making pots?

Godfrey: When I started making clay pots with my father, we made enough money through sales in surrounding rural areas. Since then, things like firewood costs have increased and there is no longer consistent demand for clay pots from nearby rural villages and towns. With more people moving to cities, we started to sell in cities but high transport costs, competition from other potters, and the difficulty working with middlemen limit what we can sell. Our group resorted to moving our products into towns on bicycles but, whenever we cannot find buyers, we are forced sell our pots at a loss or transport them back to our village.

UVP: Why did you enroll in UVP's Modified Clay Pot Project and how has it impacted your business?

Godfrey: I was approached with the idea of making clay pots with taps for safer drinking water and discussed it with the members of my local pottery cooperative. After making samples for UVP, my group produced 100 modified clay pots as our first order for UVP. The Mod-Pots I make for UVP are guaranteed to be sold because I get paid in advance, and I don't need to worry about finding customers or transporting the products to where they are wanted. This gives me more time to focus on producing pots. For every modified clay pot I make, I get 50% more money than from molding a traditional clay pot. I have appreciated the new sense of security and income; producing Mod-Pots for UVP will help pay for my three children's' school costs and help expand my business.

UVP's Mod-Pot project targets elimination of common hand contamination of household stored drinking water through hygiene education and sale of subsidized modified clay pots to rural communities. The demand for ceramic products, however, also sustains the livelihoods of local artisans who supply the Mod-Pots to UVP. Over the next 12 months, UVP will connect over 20 artisans and their products to new markets thereby opening up opportunities for higher income generation.