Friday, February 28th, 2020 | By
A 50 year old Ruth Kasimba lives in Butimba village in Kikuubedistrict; a few kilometers near where Uganda’s proposed oil refinery will be constructed in Kabale parish in Uganda’s oil-rich Hoima district.
Like any other rural woman, Kasimba collects firewood for cooking- the exercise she describes as physically exhausting but also mentally draining.
However, as a peasant farmer who grows different types of crops for food and sale, Kasimbacould not believe that the daily-throw away garbage like banana and cassava peelings could turn into fortune tosave women from the long distance walks to collect firewood.
In one of the Nyinabwenge radio talk shows at Community Green Radio, Kasimba learnt about how to covert peelings into charcoal briquettes.
“I learn on radio that after collecting the peelings, they are spread under the sun for some hours until they get dry. The dried peelings are then burnt slowly until they become ash,” she said.
“The ash is then mixed with soil and cassava porridge and then poured into a charcoal presser machine to come up with briquettes or one can use hands to make the briquette size of their choice,” she added.
Kasimba, who is a member of Butimba listeners club, sold the idea 15 other group members and now they are currently making briquettes for home use and are trying to expand the business for economic venture.
Kasimba is among many listeners who are trying to put into action what they listen on radio.
Away from making charcoal briquettes, Butimba listeners club is engaged in making indigenous tree nursery beds to conserve the environment.
Butimba listeners club is one of the pioneer clubs that started with Community Green Radio during its inception in 2014.The radio started with 11 listener’s clubs from Hoima, Kikube and Buliisa Oil-rich districts. Currently, more listeners clubs have been created in districts of Kyankwanzi and Buliisa.
The women-dominated listeners’ club members don’tonly listen. They put into action what they have learnt and also train other new listeners clubs about what they are doing.
PeninaRuhindi, a member of Kigaaga Community Radio listeners club in Kabale village in Homa district- which is adjacent to the oil refinery says they are putting into action the lessons from the radio to ensure sustainable agriculture by planting indigenous trees which encourage agro-forestry and also defend their rights as women.
“When we listen, we reflect on our community and identify the challenges talked about. We then try to find the solutions. Like now we are taking it upon ourselves as listeners club members to encourage women to gain confidence and speak up on issues affecting them and defend their rights. We encourage women to go on radio, as women we have started practicing boundary tree planting to defend our land from grabbers,” she said.
Norah Bahongye, a member of Kigaaga listener’s club says she is happy to listen to her favorite women’s program-Nyinabwenge in evening time when she has retired from her day’s duties on Saturday.
“This radio has changed the lives of many women. I did not know that me as Bahongye, a rural peasant farmer can be on the radio. I thank the radio management for aiming at amplifying women. I have indigenous knowledge on farming like best seed selection and pest control which I have shared on radio, and even people come looking for me to learn. I also know that as a woman I have a right to protect my crops from being sold by my husband from the garden. This has been common by the way because men knew we can’t defend ourselves. But listening to my voice on radio itself makes him think am empowered and I can do anything to protect myself,” She said.
Since the discovery of commercially viable oil deposits in Albertine Graben in Uganda in 2006, the high demand for land to pave way for oil exploitation as well as speculative investment has heavily impacted on host communities in theregion. The host communities are faced with evictions and displacements to pave way for oil developments. However, for the vulnerable groups such as women and children who largely depend on land for livelihood, the situation is worse. (The article on this link explains how women are impacted,http://www.nape.or.ug/10-blog/132-there-is-nothing-good-out-of-the-mines)
Despite the challenges faced by women, the voicesremained mute with untold suffering, their stories untold and underreported.
This is why National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), a local Non-Governmental Organisation, introduced Uganda Community Green Radio in 2014 in Bunyoro region to address human rights violations.
Nyinabwenge show- Women’s programwas put to specifically amplify the voices of rural women so that they can be heard, to engage them in policy making and protection of property rights, improve food security and address gender gaps in the environmental arena.
The program runs every Saturday evening for two hours and is done by Precious Naturinda as the main host and field reporter, Sara Kyeyune as a co-host, Julius Kyamanywa as the Program Director and Allan Kalangi as the overall radio manager.
The radio has helped women to gain confidence by recording them and inviting them in their radio show where they feel it’s a safe space for them to talk about issues affecting them without fear and hold their leaders accountable.
Women are engaged in conservation efforts and addressing climate change being leading by examples in their communities and disseminating their expertise using the radio. Butimba listeners club in Kikuube district, Kigaaga listeners club in Hoima district and Ngwedo listeners club in Buliisa among others are all engaged in raising indigenous trees and distributing to community members. They are also engage in food security and seed sovereignty campaigns by constructing granaries at households and having group seed multiplication gardens(of indigenous seeds which are facing extinct) which are then distributed amongst themselves.
The radio started with affiliation through another radio but last year, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) purchased Radio Kiboga FM which is being rebranded to Community Green Radio.
According to Allan Kalangi, the officer in charge of the Radio at NAPE, many women contribute a lot towards development but their contributions and success are underreported. However, giving them a program has become a platform for them to sensitize others and they feel they are recognized in society.