Amatsiko is a registered community based organization (CBO) operating in South- Western Uganda, Kabale District, Kigezi region. The idea for the project was initially conceived in 2005 by Alex Atuheire, the project director, after he saw the detrimental effects that being orphaned or vulnerable had on the future of the community's children.
We work to improve the livelihoods of those most in need through community development and education. With over 90% of people in rural communities in Uganda derive their livelihoods from farming, Amatsiko’s main community development focus is to assist rural farmers to improve food security, family income, farm productivity, nutrition, health as well as the well being of their families.
The results of Amatsiko’s work with smallholder farmers are often life changing. Families previously unable to produce sufficient food to feed themselves are now able to do so.
Teaching farmers to farm in harmony with their surroundings brings huge environmental benefits through encouraging natural fertilisers and pesticides, and the use of soil and water conservation techniques and appropriate technologies which provide long-term benefits to the farm.
Amatsiko’s holistic approach enables those at greatest risk from poverty to provide for themselves and their families without relying on long-term financial support from outside – a truly sustainable approach. Group action enables trained farmers to lobby and advocate for their rights, access better markets that offer higher prices through bulk selling, pool transport and reduced marketing costs.
Uganda’s economy is predominately agrarian with 81% of the employed workforce being in the agriculture sector. One third of the countries land area is under cultivation with 70% of the cultivated area used to produce locally consumed food crops. Most farmers engage in small-scale subsistence agriculture and operate on an average of 2 – 4 acres of owned or borrowed land with women providing 80% of the agriculture labour.
Our work is to train farmers in sustainable organic agricultural practices.
Malnutrition is a major public health emergency in Uganda today, with about 60% of the population suffering from it in some form - protein-calorie deficit and/or micro-nutrient malnutrition. It is the underlying cause of at least 50% of deaths of under 5years children in the country. Malnutrition among women in Africa results in maternal and infant death and illness. Many women in Africa and Uganda as well, suffer from chronic energy deficiency, inadequate weight gain during pregnancy, and poor micronutrient status.
Insufficient food intake, high-energy expenditure, micronutrient-deficient diets, infections, and the demands of pregnancy and lactation contribute to maternal malnutrition Even if it does not lead to death, malnutrition including micronutrient deficiencies, often leads to permanent damage including impairment of physical growth to unborn babies and mental development, and to added health care costs. I propose that we start a Comprehensive Nutrition Mission in which Smart integration between agriculture and nutrition will be heavily emphasized to reverse the alarming phenomenon.
Poverty can descend upon a community over a period of decades, years or instantly, as in the event of a natural disaster or war. Usually with long-term poverty it slowly seeps in as the natural resources around the community are used up without being replaced. Communities with intact eco-systems, forests, and clean running rivers can exist without problems for eons. When somebody somewhere wants a huge amount of resources fast they tend to forget about sustainability and strip a forest down, dam a river, mine a hillside etc…Slowly the damage is done until the ecosystem looses its integrity and the problems begin. Our poor soils produce food deficient in macro and micro nutrients; required for normal body growth, development and maintenance of health in our bodies. Accessibility to technologies that improve soil fertility are limited to most families increasing proneness to all infections and deficiencies that lead to, chronic energy deficiency, poor weight gain in pregnancy, increased reproductive risks, anemia, and other micronutrient deficiencies which contribute to maternal and infant deaths and illness like kwashiorkor.
Women and children are the main victims of malnutrition. The additional biological demands during menstruation, pregnancy and lactation have made nutritional deficiencies the most widespread and disabling health problem among the women. The women folk therefore deserve to be addressed with wide interventions.
It has been observed that lack of access to diverse nutritious food is not only the cause of malnutrition, poor feeding practices and infection or combination of the two are major factors for malnutrition of children. Infection, particularly persistent diarrhoea, pneumonia and measles undermine nutritional status. Poor feeding practices -inadequate breast feeding, offering of wrong foods in insufficient quantities etc. contribute to malnutrition in both the mother and the child. Such conditions require concerted efforts the good nutrition.
Establishment of home gardens by every mother, accessibility to non hybrid seed and seedlings will be the ultimate step towards addressing both infant and maternal mortality in Bufuka village and Uganda.
Activities and strategies for reduction of malnutrition
- Training in basic food nutrition to mothers.
- Establishment of ecological home gardens with small livestock as part of the ecosystem.
- Focus on assets and resources that women manage and control.
- Joint planning for husbands and wives.
- Increase access and use of diverse nutritious foods at household level.
- Labor saving and productivity enhancing technologies.
Permaculture Home Gardens
Establishment of home gardens with Permaculture technologies to every mums homestead within communities will advance evidence-based solutions. Able to empower the young children, mothers and the communities at large with latest permaculture farming technologies like;
- Use of effective micro-organism which accelerates decomposition of organic matter and mineralization of required nutrients. These organisms also feed on ammonia as, well that accumulates in pit latrines and pigsty leaving the environment friendlier with no flies.
- Manufacture of organic liquid fertilizers from animal urine, cow dung human urine, sugarcane and other plants and water, to increase soil fertility and crop yields.
- Production of organic pesticides for pest control, from plants and animal wastes, aiming at maximum use of farm wastes, minimizing chemical related malnutrition diseases through production and consumption of nutritious organic food.
- Train mothers and family members in the construction of compost shower that avails hot water for the family to bathe without bothering family members every morning and evening. This reduces costs on fuel by shs.98,000/=,reduces carbon emission to the atmosphere and forest degradation.
- Encouraging mothers to re adopt polyculture in crop farming which ensures year round food production as opposed to monoculture backed by mulching to reduce water loss from the soil.
- Water harvesting technologies like use of earth bags in the construction of underground water tanks able to hold water for domestic use and irrigation of crops during fertilizer application or in a dry season.
Proposed Permaculture and Nutrition Approach.
Permaculture is a model that explicitly integrates sustainable farming and renewable energies in circular economy .Small home gardens (agro-ecological farms) are known to be highly productive, and are ideally served by new renewable energies that can be generated and used on site. An integrated gender, nutrition and agricultural initiative coupled with improved hygiene could improve growth of children. Integrating agricultural activities with a package of nutrition interventions can reduce chronic under nutrition by up to 57%. Interventions that invest in human capital—especially nutrition education and women’s empowerment —have a greater likelihood of producing positive changes in nutrition.
To achieve the above mentioned, pregnant women and school children will undergo training to establish home gardens. School gardens and village gardens enriched with non-hybrid vegetables, fruit trees, medicine plants, fodder trees for their animals. Demonstration through practical lessons will be jointly conducted to acquire hands on experience.
Improving young child and maternal nutrition in Uganda and Bufuka in particular over the next five years will have the following benefits:
- a) Reduce the number of maternal deaths
- b) Increase national economic productivity, both physical and intellectual,
- c) Increase productivity which will result into reduced child stunting, improved maternal health, enhanced micronutrient intake, and improved nutrition care. Investing in nutrition makes economic sense, with the economic benefits far outweighing the investments required for scaling up nutrition programmes.
The Home Garden
To address the scourge of malnutrition and mortality among young mothers and infants and offer nutritional security to other vulnerable groups, through providing diverse, nutritious food grown in Permaculture home-gardens.
- Improved household nutrition through consumption of diverse and nutritious foods. Reducing expenses on fruits and vegetables through establishment of home-gardens.
- Establishment of a home garden to our target homes and providing access to non-hybrid seeds and seedlings.
What can be found here?
- Non-hybrid vegetables; rich in a diverse range of macro- and micro-nutrients e.g. beetroot, leek, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, green pepper, onions, carrots, amaranth.
- Fruit trees like paw paw, avocado, Tree tomatoes, oranges.
- Medicinal plants e.g. Moringa ,aloe vera, cucumber, stinging nettle.
What will be done here?
- Providing communities with knowledge and advice on how to establish and manage a home-garden in terms of growing bio-diverse nutritious vegetables gardens with small livestock as part of the ecosystem.
- Provide homes with seedlings from the nursery bed to take home and plant in their own home-garden.
- Active teaching at agro-ecological Permaculture demonstration gardens such as the making of:
1. Compost manure
2. Advocating for polyculture not monoculture, use of biodiversity at all levels above and below the ground.
3. Manufacturing Liquid organic fertilizer from Plants and animal wastes.
4. Organic pesticides
5. Nursery beds for seedlings
6. Demonstration on the use of effective micro-organism
7. Labor saving and productivity enhancing technologies
8. Training in basic food nutrition to pregnant mothers
There are two broad underlying causes of inadequate dietary intake and the high disease burden:
- Household food insecurity (mainly related to poor access to the range of foods needed for a diversified diet).
An added element of this is that the foods that households frequently consume are relatively deficient in micronutrients. Seasonality in food production, variable food prices, and seasonal earning patterns exacerbate
the instability and the poor quality of the diet the household consumes through the year.
- Poor access to health care and a poor environment. In far too many cases, young children do not live in a healthy environment with good access to clean toilets and other sanitation services, a reliable safe water supply, and effective health facilities and services, including nutrition services such as micronutrient supplementation and nutrition education.
Our Agriculture and Food Security Projects Include:
In response to these changing needs, Amatsiko have already begun implementing agriculture and food security projects. The following is a list of projects and activities that exist and will be included under this pillar:
- Emergency food aid during times of drought and crisis.
- School Nutrition Programs, which provide nutritious meals as well as education on proper nutrition.
- Crop diversification, introduction of high-quality seeds.
- Agriculture training.
- Planting school gardens.
- Planting school farms.
- Planting medicinal gardens.
- Tree planting to address desertification.
- Irrigation and watershed development.
Alternative Income and Livelihood
Amatsiko provides parents, especially mothers, with the resources to generate a sustainable source of income, increase their savings and even start their own businesses.
Women who participate in alternative income and livelihood programming increase their capacity and skills. These skills not only benefit the women who have them, but are passed on to friends and children who can use them in the same way, now and in the future.
Going beyond merely the provision of seeds and animals, our alternative income and livelihood programming includes training, support and workshops, and ensures long-term, sustainable solutions to economic challenges.
Today, 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 per day. This kind of crippling poverty forces many parents in developing countries to send their children into the workforce to provide for their family instead of going to school. They can’t afford proper meals, adequate living conditions or even health care if their children get sick. For mothers, the grip of poverty is even worse. Across the developing world, women’s education and literacy rates pale in comparison to those of men. And with household responsibilities keeping them at home, many mothers have neither the mobility nor the means to earn a living.
When mothers are given the education, tools and skills to earn and sustain an income, their children gain access to education, are healthier and are removed from situations of child labour.
With alternative income and livelihood resources and training, women become empowered and proud and act as wonderful examples to their daughters and other girls, impacting everyone. The result is an educated community that is more equipped to lift themselves out of poverty.
Did You Know?
- About 20% of the world’s population, 1.2 billion people, live on less than $1 a day.
- 925 million people around the world do not have enough to eat.
- 98% of the world’s hungry live in developing countries.
- Women represent 70% of the world’s poor.
- Women, mostly in rural areas, represent more than two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults.
- When women have an active role in the economy, this not only lowers levels of women living in poverty, but helps to raise household income and encourages economic development of countries as a whole.
Our Alternative Income and Livelihood Projects Include:
Our sustainable alternative income and livelihood projects are different.
- Animal husbandry which includes rabbits and pigs.
- Vocational training.
- Business and financial literacy workshops.
- Leadership and skills training.
- Honey production.
- Artisans projects.
- Girls’ Clubs.
- Women’s and Men’s lending circles and support groups.
We guarantee that at least 85% of money donated to the project will be used to directly benefit the children that we support. The remaining 15% will be used for the running costs and overheads of the project. Read More
Amatsiko Preparatory School
The Amatsiko Preparatory School was established in 2013. During the community participatory conference and community mapping, the community opinion leaders, district stakeholders and Amatsiko organization; It was noted that the major causes of deaths, insecurity, thefts and other crime related activities in the area was by mainly the idle children.Read More