The story of Oduworo kanapa Village; a Ugandan Village exhibited at the ri convention in Montreal, June 2010 a unique exhibition at Montreal

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The story of Oduworo kanapa Village; a Ugandan Village exhibited at the RI Convention in Montreal, June 2010

A Unique exhibition at Montreal
An enduring memory that most delegates went away from the RI Convention in Montreal in June 2010 was the D5330 exhibition of the Ugandan Village in the House of Friendship. In August 2009 when Steve Wallace talked about exhibiting a village at the Convention some people thought that this was impossible! How do you exhibit a village, nearly 3 square miles in a House of Friendship at a Convention? How can you capture the spirit of a village deep in the heartland of Africa and take it to Montreal. The eventual, successful exhibition of the village and the attraction that it had speaks volumes for what Rotary does on a day to day basis; turning incredible plans into beautiful reality.

D5330 District-wide International Project
The story of the D5330 Village started in late 2006. D5330 in South California, USA, wanted to start a District-wide International Project and in January 2007 sent its District International Officers Steve and Vicky Wallace to look at villages which District Partners in four countries; Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and India had nominated for evaluation. The criteria for selection were, among others, as follows:


         Extremely poor and needy village

         Lack of government or other alternative interventions available

         The community’s willingness to take responsibility for their own development (rather than sit back and wait for assistance) and to be a keen partner in making maximum use of available opportunities to develop itself.


Using their own funds, Steve and Vicky Wallace visited four villages in all the four countries over a six week period and thereafter took their findings back to their District. Of the four villages, D5330 selected Oduworo Kanapa Village, in Uganda, D9200, as their first District-wide International Project. The village was nominated by and is coordinated by the Rotary Club of Kampala West, in Uganda, D9200. 


Adopting a village in Uganda
Oduworo-Kanapa is found in Teso, Eastern Uganda. The people of Teso used to be cattle keepers. In the early 1980’s, following the fall of the Idi Amin regime in Uganda , a neighbouring tribe stormed an army barracks and grabbed guns which they then used to terrorise neighbouring tribes, raiding all their cattle. Oduworo Kanapa was a gateway for this tribe and for over a decade their village suffered repetitive raids. Many people were killed and the survivors ran away. The survivors later regrouped and settled down, this time turning to agricultural farming. Some years later, however, they came under the influence of politicians who persuaded them to take up guns and rebel against government. The government response was extremely repressive and again many people were killed or had to flee. The area was labeled an insurgency area and later, even when some people had regrouped, there were no government programmes that were initiated there to help the people. Other natural disasters such as prolonged draught and high prevalence of malaria carrying mosquitoes made it one of the most dreaded and extremely difficult places to live.

When D5530 adopted the village a needs assessment was carried out, involving all the stakeholders. The village has about 4,000 households. During the needs assessment, the population was divided into four groups as follows; men, women, youths and the elderly. Each group was asked to identify the needs most crucial to their group and to rank them in order of priority. At the open air meeting on this occasion, over 1000 people turned up to take part in this exercise. All the four groups had the same top priority; water. After water, there was consensus by all the four groups on health and food security. Thereafter, the needs echoed the interests of the different groups which included vocational training (youths), micro-finance (men and women), bee-keeping (elderly), income generating projects (men and women).

The consensus on water did not need any explanation. Oduworo Kanapa is an arid area with major water source in the village. Water is collected from shallow holes in the ground during the rainy season. The muddy water sources are shared by people and animals alike. The water holes also serve as bathing places and for washing clothes, further compounding the already dirty water. Water carried home was not boiled but drank as it was because of scarcity of firewood in the village. In the dry season, when the water holes dried, people walked as far as 8 miles looking for water.
Rotary Interventions to date. 

Needs Assessment:

During a visit by the then DG and Rtns from District 5330, Rtns from RC of Kampala West a needs assesment was carried out on 11 January 2008. The community was divided in five Groups: Elderly, Women, Men, Youth-boys and Youth-Girls. About 1140 people participated. Each Group was requested to come up with 3 priority issues for (1) Immediate and (2) for the long term.
The combined prioritisation was as follows:


Priority short term


Priority – Long - Term




Health Centre




Maintenance of roads


Agricultural inputs


Vocational training


Nursery school




Income Generating Activities


Improve Primary sch.; raise level to Senior secondary school

On that day an Rotary Community Corps (RCC) was commissioned by the DG District 5330


Upon adopting the village, the first priority was to improve the quality and quantity of water in the village. UNICEF had previously drilled some boreholes but these had broken down. Since 2008, 15 boreholes which had broken down have been repaired and youths in the village have been trained to repair them. A Rotary Community Corp was organized and has been teaching the people the proper use of the boreholes. In addition, four brand new boreholes have been drilled. A grant for rain water harvesting involving construction of water tanks to collect and store over 60,000 litres of water at two schools in the village is under implementation. Furthermore, a grant a grant to provide training to youths in the village in the making of bio-sand filters has been funded and the training is in progress. This will not only provide better quality water but will also provide skills and an income to the youths. 200 bio sand filters are to be made.


Among the first projects was the distribution of Mosquito nets to householders in the village. Over 1000 households were provided with treated mosquito nets.

Two medical camps have so far been organized in the village at which medical doctors provided free medical checks and supplied routine non prescription medicines. All children in the village were provided with de-worming medicine. In addition Rotarians in D5330 donated prescription eye glasses which, during the eye camp, were given to people who matched the specifications. Financial assistance has also been provided, in special cases to some people to get medical assistance elsewhere.
The village had a health centre that was badly equipped. Rotarians met with the minister of Health in Kampala to highlight the plight of the health Centre and in response government provided refrigerators powered by solar and also gave drugs and other equipment. The staffing needs at the health center were also boosted.
One of the major factors that contributed to poor health in the village was poor hygiene. At the time of the Rotary intervention, pit latrine coverage in the entire village was about 10 %. Funds were provided for buying equipment such as pick axes, hoes and wheelbarrows. All homes were required to dig pit latrines. One of the messages that has ben communicated, is that to benefit from Rotaery one had to have a clean home with a toilet. In May 2010, sanitary platforms were provided, under a matching grant, to homes to assist them in building of pit latrines. Within a period of two years, the pit latrine coverage had increased from 10 % to 85 %.
The Elderly.

The elderly people in the village requested for economic activities that were not strenuous such as bee-keeping. A matching grant was approved under which 200 bee hives were distributed to 50 elderly people in the village. Training was carried out to ensure that the hives were properly installed. Reports from the village confirmed that the hives have been colonized. At the time of delivery the farmers were asked to form a cooperative union to strengthen their bargaining power. A honey buyer from Kampala has been to the village and he solicited to have the honey sold to him. A market for the honey is therefore already guaranteed.

Food Security and Income Generation.
Since the start of the project, the following have been done in this area;
         Distribution of improved, high yielding, quick maturing and drought resistant maize, beans, cow peas and groundnuts.. Over 7 tonnes of high quality seeds have been distributed.

  • Distribution of over 3,000 high yielding Valencia orange seedlings

  • Distribution of cassava and sweet potato cuttings.

Farmer training.
In June 2010, 20 farmers from the village, made up of 12 women and 8, men were brought to an organic farm, Katende Harambe, near Kampala for a two week intensive training. The course included the following subjects; poultry keeping, Zero grating, renewing soil fertility, pig rearing, goat farming, cotton growing, vegetable farming, fruit growing and marketing of crops. All these were areas relevant to them. The 20 farmers were selected on the basis of their ability to go back and train the rest of the villagers. This was therefore a training of trainers. It is expected that the impact of the training will revolutionize the way the people in the village live. Production per acreage should increase, and boosting family income. In addition the farmers should be able to produce and provide a balanced diet for their families.


Modest sums of funds have been provided for trial micro-lending schemes in the village. Under this arrangement farmers are able to borrow up to USD 50 at a very nominal interest rate. So far this scheme is proving very successful with most people paying back without much hassle. The ultimate success of the scheme with small sums of money will be the basis for an expanded micro-finance scheme in the village.

Solar Lighting
Solar lighting has drastically changed the lifestyle in the village and extended the day by some 3 to four hours. Previously, villagers used to go to sleep soon after dusk, once they ate their evening meal, usually around an open fire. Not many people in the village can afford a paraffin candle. Rotary provided a matching grant for solar lighting and now life no longer comes to a standstill after sunset.
The initial motivation for providing solar lighting was so that school children could do their homework after it got dark. The whole family life has been transformed with solar light. The lights have also changed people’s attitudes and mentality. They said that before Rotary came to their village, they associated lights with modernity, usually urban life which was for the educated people and those who had left the village. They now, too, felt modern even though they were still in the village.
Other interventions.

Other interventions to date (end of June 2010) include the following;

  • Provision of scholastic materials such as exercise books, pens and pencils to each child in all the seven classrooms per school in the two primary schools in the village

  • Provision of teacher reference books in the two schools.

  • Provision of sports facilities in the two schools.

  • Provision of shelves school libraries

  • Supporting children in the area to go to vocational schools

  • Provision of sanitary pads for school girls.

  • Providing woodlots for people to plant trees

What has been the cost to date:

Close to US$ 200,000 has been spent in the village through Matching Grants. Additional funding has come directly through individuals and Rotary clubs in district 5330 as well as the RC of Kampala West.

Emerging from adversity; a story of hope and Rotary
Oduworo-Kanapa is a big village with about 4000 households and a population of well over 15,000 people.  Before the interventions mentioned above, only a handful of homes had a capacity to raise USD 50 a year.  The literacy rate was in the range of 30% to 40% compared with a national average of 50% to 60%.  The nearest government hospital is 17 miles away.  There is no secondary school in the village and only a handful of children went beyond the basic primary education.    In Uganda, nearly 55% percent of the population is under 20 years of age.  For an extremely disadvantaged village where the adult population had been affected by the disasters of the past the statistics were worse.  When we first visited this village people called themselves the forgotten village.  They said no organisation had visited them or shown any interest in doing something good in their community.  This is the village that Rotary chose to reach out to.


The needs in the village are still vast and Rotary cannot address all of them.  Rotary has however brought hope.  The community has been galvanized and understand that they are not fated to live the life they were living.  They used to drink dirty water because there was no alternative.  They used to walk over 8 miles to look for water because there was none nearby.  They say that their eyes have been opened. They now understand that there is a better way things could be done, a better quality life and that with hard work and some help, they can change the quality of life around them.  They are determined that their children should lead a better life.


The exhibition at Montreal highlighted the challenges that people in Oduworo-Kanapa faced before any interventions came and the difference that Rotary has made in just over 3 years.  It showed the Power of Rotary and the amazing difference it brings to people’s lives.


Since 2007 many Rotarians from D5330 have been coming to Uganda to stay at the village, learn from the people how they can help them improve themselves. The delegations have included District Governors and Rotarians and well wishers. They have left the comforts of their home to live with the people of Oduworo Kanapa, look at life from their point of view and assess how, together they can build a better life in Kumi, Uganda. The commitment of this Rotarians is amazing. In Montreal, the booth was manned by the District Governor himself, the District Governor Elect, District Governor Nominee and three Past District Governors and members from across the 60 or so Rotary Clubs. This was a demonstration of their commitment to Oduworo Kanapa, a Rotary Village in Uganda. It was a touching illustration of Rotary’s commitment in its quest for Service Above Self.



Sam Bwaya

PP, RC Kampala West.



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