Green Living in Uganda
When Godfrey Kasozi looked around his home country of Uganda, he knew he would use his life to improve what he saw. But it wasn’t just the poverty and technological development he wanted to change. Godfrey was just as concerned about the environment.
So in 1997 he founded the Centre for Environmental Technology and Rural Development (CETRUD). Today, CETRUD fosters relationships between families and their environment, to reach a sustainable future. They teach organic farming methods and help caregivers start small businesses while raising awareness on the environment and HIV and AIDS.
Their success is tangible. Visibly. And in numbers.
Visiting the families that have been part of CETRUD’s program, there is example after example of productive small businesses, flourishing home gardens, engaged and motivated community members, and children thriving.
Their approach is unique: most of the people they work with are living with HIV and caring for orphans whose parents have died of AIDS. CETRUD offers intensive training in managing a small business and provides small grants between US$200-$400. They provide ongoing support to help navigate the challenges that any business start-up faces. By providing practical solutions, they help their mostly female small business owners to build a successful enterprise.
CETRUD calls the women “caretakers,” emphasizing their role in caring for a business that belongs to the orphans and vulnerable children in their care. Program participants agree to tell the children about their HIV-positive status and to train the older children in running the business. This way, the youth are able to keep the enterprise afloat if the women fall ill. The businesses include restaurants, used clothing stalls, and sewing shops, as well as small stores and farms.
At a 95 percent success rate, the caretakers’ businesses are remarkable.
More than a business mentor, CETRUD teaches organic farming methods to all of their beneficiaries. Caregivers are trained at CETRUD’s own demonstration farm, where they learn about pest management, fruit improvement, soil management, and conservation. In each caregiver’s home, beans, squash, pumpkins, and tomatoes can be found competing for growing space among banana trees and a tangle of passion fruit vines.
By making sure that families have a constant supply of healthy food, CETRUD reduces the likelihood that money for the business start-up will be diverted to meet basic needs, resulting in an under-capitalized start-up. But it also helps the nutritional status of the caregiver, which is important to their health, given their HIV-status. It also helps to make sure children are well fed as they go to school.
Their holistic programs don’t end there. CETRUD’s environmental management program teaches the community agro forestry that includes the planting of trees to provide firewood, poles, and timber for construction and other purposes. Some trees also restore soil fertility by helping to fix nitrogen in the degraded soils. They introduce new methods like drip irrigation to help conserve water, or fuel efficient stoves to reduce use of firewood.
CETRUD's mission is to improve human life, environment, and give tangible hope to poor people in Uganda. And when you visit their beneficiaries, you see that they are doing just that: improving the quality of life for children and their families and protecting the environment and natural resources for future generations.