Since 1986 Uganda has worked to rebuild its economy and make the difficult transition from a country torn by civil war to one of democracy and free enterprise. ACDI/VOCA has been assisting with this transition by promoting a wide range of development activities.
ACDI/VOCA began managing a USAID-funded PL 480 Title II program in 1989 with the objective of transforming smallholder subsistence farmers into viable commercial producers through the introduction of modern farming techniques, thereby increasing rural household income and enhancing food security. The ACDI/VOCA-Uganda program operated a FY 2002-2006 PL 480 Title II Development Activity Program, promoting food security through both agricultural grantee nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and a health/nutrition intervention that includes food distribution for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. Over 82,00 MT of commodities were distributed or monetized over the life of the program.
Through a grants management structure, ACDI/VOCA trained local nongovernmental organizations to work with food-insecure farmers and rural communities to improve the availability, access to and use of foods. ACDI/VOCA staff provide training and technical expertise in the following areas: savings and credit, nutrition, Farming as a Business, post-harvest handling and marketing, and agronomy. Results included
- over 144,000 farmers—48 percent of whom were female—benefited from trainings
- bulk marketing of maize resulted in a price differential of $130 per MT versus the previous price of $88 per MT
- ACDI/VOCA, through 13 grantee partner NGOs, mobilized farmers to save almost $125,000 and use the savings to fund group-based savings and credit programs
To accommodate farmers’ increased production, ACDI/VOCA collaborated with district governments, local communities and private contractors to improve market access by rehabilitating rural feeder roads. This initiative has changed the landscape of many rural communities, catalyzing a proliferation of commercial centers and economic activities along the rehabilitated roads. Over 236 km of road have been rehabilitated.
ACDI/VOCA supported the innovative market information system, FoodNet, which makes price information available for local markets through SMS text messaging on farmers’ cell phones. Farmers access this timely market information to negotiate fair prices with buyers. ACDI/VOCA also provided grants to local farmer groups, research institutions and international organizations to develop and promote the use of high-quality inputs, such as hybrid seeds and fertilizers, and to train smallholder farmers in new and improved farming techniques. Additionally, ACDI/VOCA worked with two local financial institutions to assist farmers by guaranteeing a percentage of the noncollateralized portion of their loans for agricultural production and marketing activities.
In this program, ACDI/VOCA and USAID/Uganda piloted the Title II HIV/AIDS Initiative, which increases the food security of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) through the distribution of supplementary rations to them and their dependents. ACDI/VOCA partnered with four organizations providing support and services to PLWHA, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), World Vision, Africare and The Aids Support Organization (TASO) to distribute food to beneficiaries. The project benefited 61,455 people with monthly food rations and complementary clinical and counseling support from partners. Over one-third of the food beneficiaries also participated in ACDI/VOCA agricultural interventions.
ACDI/VOCA engaged in a great deal of capacity building in the design and funding of the Title II HIV/AIDS Initiative. The training has included logistical technical advice, compliance, monitoring and evaluation, project and financial management, budgeting and data collection skills, and the training of counselors in nutrition sensitization. The program also works with field extension workers to train beneficiaries in improved food utilization and methods to measure dietary diversity as an indicator. ACDI/VOCA secured funds from the local USAID mission to provide intensive training for PLWHA food beneficiaries in improved nutrition, hygiene and sanitation.
Monetization and Logistics
Monetization is the sale of U.S. commodities in a foreign country to generate funds for development activities. The commodities granted to ACDI/VOCA are bought by the U.S. government from American farmers and processors. Under the ACDI/VOCA-managed PL 480 program, U.S. vegetable oil was sold in small-lot monthly auctions and wheat was sold through negotiated sales. The vegetable oil auctions acted to open and stimulate the local commodity market while benefiting both small- and large-scale commercial traders. For wheat sales, ACDI/VOCA led a monetization consortium of PL 480 Title II private voluntary organizations (PVOs) including Africare, CRS, Save the Children and World Vision. As the consortium monetization leader with extensive commodity trading experience, ACDI/VOCA organized the movement and sale of all PVO monetization commodities throughout the year. The coordinated wheat sales brought maximum proceeds for the partners, minimized impact on the local market and promoted the development of local mills.