The programme aims to bring people together to improve the sustainability of communities internationally. British Council Uganda works in partnership with a number of civil society organisations on the programme. The programme has connected Active Citizens in Uganda with other Active Citizens around the world, meeting them in person, sharing ideas and developing initiatives that have a positive impact in Uganda.

Who are Active Citizens?

Active citizens are people who have demonstrated they have social responsibility within their local community. People such as: youth workers, women’s groups, educators and faith leaders.

The programme helps these local influencers build trust and understanding, develop skills and deliver projects on key issues such as poverty, literacy, democracy and climate change.

How it works

  • A national strategy

We commission research to identify the key national issues. We then form partnerships with civil society organisations (delivery partners) working in these areas.

  • Facilitator development workshops

Delivery partners identify local facilitators. These facilitators take part in facilitator development workshops. These workshops inform the facilitators about the programme and approaches to delivering the programme locally.

  • Local community delivery

Local facilitators adapt and deliver local workshops to groups of Active Citizens in their communities. Active Citizens then work with facilitators to design and deliver social action projects in their communities.

  • Globally connected

Locally engaged Active Citizens are part of a global network, which interacts through study visits and exchanges with other countries. They also share their work and findings via online portals.

More information

Visit the Active Citizens website (below) to learn more about the programme.

Active Citizens Social Enterprise Training: Igniting The Spark To Social Entrepreneurship In Uganda

British Council Uganda through its Active Citizens programme organised a five day Social Enterprise Training for 17 social action project leaders from 5 districts; Kampala, Nebbi, Apac, Pallisa and Bushenyi. It was held at Esella Country Hotel from the 1-5 February 2016.

It was aimed at deepening and strengthening the understanding of the social enterprise concept and how to turn these enterprises into financially viable impact businesses.

Ikiriza Emily a Project Officer at British Council and Peniel Rwendeirefacilitated the training. Understanding the social enterprise concept; how values and passions shape enterprises; social enterprise leadership; communication and dialogue; Community asset mapping; Understanding customers, competitors, and stakeholders and social enterprise growth design were some of the lessons that were delivered to the participants.

At the end, each SAP leader had learnt and shared his or her experiences, reviewed the current practices in their project and a change in the mindset. They renewed their zeal and energy of engaging in exercises that will help their SAPs to plan, implement and communicate their social businesses better.

Ocanda Isaac a participant from Nebbi District said “This training has been a once in life time opportunity. We have been taught how to monitor our business activities in terms of losses and income, record keeping and diversifying our activities.”

He added, “On the last day they trained us on integrating Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), a concept that was knew to me. This was very helpful because without inclusiveness we can’t realize social development.”

We also caught up with Doreen Nimungu from Nebbi District. She has wasted no time in starting to implement what she learnt from the training. Doreen has already started a savings group of 30 people in her village with both men and women included.

She also plans to train a group of women and girls with disabilities in Pakwach sub-county on how to start and manage a social enterprise. Currently she is working on a project proposal to submit to Nebbi District Local Government to support her financially in her bid to train People with Disabilities in social enterprise.

Opale Juma's Success Story

Opale Juma, aged 32 is an Active Citizen and a resident of Kagoli central village in Pallisa Sub county, Pallisa District - Uganda. He is happily married to Fahima Amongin and blessed with seven children.

“In 2012, I was facing a number of challenges which included; limited capital, lack of business knowledge and skills, above all a negative attitude towards work” he says.

In 2013, he joined a local savings and credit group in his parish called Kagoli Youth Development Association (KAYODA) through which he was invited to attend the Active Citizens’ training. As a result of this training, he acquired the basic knowledge and skills on how to use the local available resources to tap in to the local opportunities.

After receiving the Active Citizens’ training, Juma decided to begin a chapatti business in Kagoli trading centre with only 50,000 Ugandan Shillings (UGX) as his capital.

“From this business, I was able to save 3,000 UGX per day which enabled me to expand my capital, from 50,000 to 200,000 UGX with daily savings of 7,000 UGX” says Juma.

Basing on the mentorship from the Active Citizens facilitators, Juma was encouraged to seek a loan of 800,000 UGX from BRAC Uganda. He used the loan to venture into rice growing. He also used the savings from his rice venture to purchase a cow, three goats and two sheep.

He says, “Currently, I am able to support my family‘s needs as well as pay school fees of over 400,000 UGX per term for my four school going children.”

He adds “I have been able to employ four people on a permanent basis in my chapatti and livestock businesses and I also employ over 30 people in the rice growing business on temporal basis.”

From all his businesses, Juma saves about One million Ugandan shillings per month and he intends to expand these businesses. He also has plans of venturing in poultry farming before the end of 2015.

“My sincere gratitude goes to KAYODA and British Council’s Active Citizens team for their tireless efforts and encouragement that have propelled me to this level,” says Juma.

He adds, “My appreciation also goes to my family, employees, entire community and more so British Council for their cooperation and continued support”.

Mother To Mother

Mother To Mother is a women’s group in Pallisa district that unites women living with HIV/AIDS to fight against stigma and contribute to the reduction of new infections. The group also works towards a sustainable wellbeing of its members.

HIV/AIDS is one of the most killer diseases in Uganda despite the past achievements in reducing its spread rate. Most HIV/AIDS infected women and youth don’t want to be identified as victims due to the stigma.

Mother to Mother is a women’s group in Palisa district that has turned what was seen as a problem into an opportunity to consolidate its members’ efforts through working towards sustainable wellbeing.

Before British Council’s Active citizen’s intervention, the group existed and eventually collapsed due to social-economic challenges that discouraged members.

Through the Active Citizen’s trainings carried out by the district coordinator, the group was revived. For the first time, they had hope of reuniting and working together to tap into the locally available resources and opportunities in the district. 

Currently, the group has gained momentum because of the reliable leadership it has at its disposal. The group is now engaged in income generating activities such as craftwork, weaving, Music Dance and Drama, especially for community entertainment. They also started fish farming to help them diversify their sources of income. On a weekly basis, the members are engaged in a group saving scheme, where every member is supposed to save 2000 shillings.

During the cascades, a lot of efforts were put on module four, which focused on the SAP (Social Action Plan) planning. It was observed that the SAP has the potential to grow and a huge potential to collapse, if there are no planed strategies to keep the SAP relevant to the members.

Despite the staggering foundation, they have recorded some achievements which include:

  • Uniting women affected by HIV/AIDS. It takes courage and commitment to declare yourself as a person infected with HIV/AIDS in a community.  This SAP has united majority of the women in the sub county amidst stigma situations. They have chosen to ignore what the wider community thinks of their situation and remain focused on the noble cause of their existence.
  • Enterprise development is among the success they always talk about. The products made such as table mats, baskets and other crafts are sold off and this generates an income to the women. This has kept them busy and productive enough not to think about the stigma they face.
  • Contributing to the welfare of their households is among their registered successes.   Through engaging in income generating activities, Mother to Mother has helped them to be more of assets than being seen as liabilities in their households. They have managed to support their health through the income raised without over burdening the heads of their families. 

My Community, My Town, My Health

My Community, My town, My health is a slogan that unites Nebbi Town Active Citizens and residents for the common goal of cleaning their town every last Friday of the month. The occasion is also an opportunity for residents to interact with their leaders.

“If Nebbi was located in Kampala, Kampala Capital City Authority would strongly benefit from the efforts of the committed Active Citizens towards cleaning their town” says Ochola Willy, the Active Citizen’s District Coordinator.

Nebbi District located in the West Nile region, is one of the areas where British Council’s Active Citizens programme has taken root.

The Active Citizens through their Social Action Plan (SAP) abbreviated as My-CTH have consolidated their efforts to express their love for their community and town as per the saying of their SAP name.

On a monthly basis, every last Friday of the month there is no need to make a special announcement since all the youth carry their garbage collection tools and clean the town.

The exercise doesn’t only include the youth, but also the district officials such as the town clerks, RDC and the mayor. This exercise is not carried out on a single street, but rather the wider section of the town especially those areas that are near the market.

The SAP has achieved strongly on social cohesion since it has now become a social responsibility for ensuring that, every last Friday of the month it’s a town cleaning day.The engagement of district leaders in the exercise has improved and a working relationship between the community and the local leaders has been established. This exercise is seen as an opportunity for the community to have interaction with their leaders whom they rarely meet.

  

Grace Owiny Unites Disabled Women in Nebbi District

Grace Owiny, an Active Citizen  has used her mobilisation skills to unite disabled women in Nebbi District under the umbrella of Nebbi Women with Disability Association (NEWODA)

“Who says disability means inability” says Grace Owiny, the chairperson of Nebbi Women with Disability Association (NEWODA) Social Action Plan (SAP). Grace, a mother and an Active Citizen, is a highly motivated woman with a disability.

Grace is also a skilled artist who deals in crafts; her passion in crafts started way back when she was still a little girl and she has always used her skills to challenge people in the neighbourhood that disability is not inability.

When Grace attended the Active Citizen’s Workshop, it changed her perceptions on many things. Initially, she used to work alone at her home but after attending the workshop, she was inspired to mobilise more women with disabilities in the community to join her in the craft business.

During the workshop, NEWODA as a group had much interest in the social enterprise and entrepreneurial development module. They started thinking of how they can engage the wider community since they are the major market for the products.

The facilitators using various related skills took them through a tailored programme that also included establishment of a saving culture amongst themselves, starting with the transport refund they got from the training.

Today it’s no longer seen as Grace but as NEWODA a SAP that has united and helped women to consolidate their efforts to participate in the community’s social economic programmes.

NEWODA has managed to establish an office which also works as their meeting point and a shop for their craft products. Besides the craft business, they have also engaged in training women and youth without disabilities and they have been contracted by other Civil Society Organisations to train more women in such skills.

Active Citizens fundraise for construction of Health Centre

Access to health services is a human right that one has to access freely and fairly and the Government of Uganda is mandated to ensure that all citizens have access to these services. Better health services are some of the things citizens expect after fulfilling their obligation of paying taxes.

However, much as access to health services is a human right, residents of Pallisa Town Council (PTC) still have to move long distances to access better services at Pallisa Main Hospital. As a result several lives that could have been saved in time have been lost especially those of expecting mothers.

After witnessing the hurdles mothers have to go through to access better health services, Members of PTC- Social Action Plan (SAP) who are under British Council’s Active Citizens Programme felt they had a social responsibility to save the precious lives of these mothers.

During their advocacy programmes, they noticed that the Local Government had the capacity to give them a health centre as long as there was space where to set it up or else it would be constructed elsewhere, where there is land.

This inspired the SAP members to think of ways they can avail land in the community for a health centre. Hence the need to focus on fundraising for land where the health centre will be built. The total amount needed to purchase the land is 50 million Ugandan Shillings. This may sound as a huge amount but through joint community efforts, residents are hopeful that they will raise it.

Formal and informal fundraising exercises have been going on and a bank account was opened to keep the money safe. So far, over 10 million has been collected in cash and pledges amounting to over 5 Million.  

Beru Joseph, a father and an Active Citizen says, “I am happy that people are trying to think along these lines of doing something without waiting for government support”. He adds people are asking themselves, how we get to other areas that are badly off like the road sector.

PTC SAP members have taken it upon themselves to massively sensitise the community on their participation in development programmes besides only paying taxes.

Fight Against Banana Wilt (FABW)

In the African setting, when a household was attacked by a wild animal, the rest of the community would spend sleepless nights until the animal was killed. So sad to note that this culture has died and now its every man for himself.

However Armstrong an Active Citizen has revived the tradition in the modern context. Bushenyi is one of the districts that were strongly attacked by Banana wilt disease for over 5 years. The community members lost their cherished gardens to the disease and opted to plant other crops that can’t be affected by the disease.

In early 2014 Armstrong was among the participants who benefited from the cascading program of Active citizens.  His SAP focused on mobilising the community to fight against the disease in order to revive the pride of Bushenyi in banana production.

Five months after the workshop, (Fight against Banana Wilt) FABW was recognised by NAADS to be one of the most effective community led projects that had fought against the disease.

FABW mobilised the community members including the youth, women and the elders to fight the disease. Among the approaches used to ensure success of the project, was engaging the community members irrespective of their age and gender. This helped FABW SAP to easily mobilise the needed resources such as hoes, pangas and garden knives to cut down the sick banana plantations and replant healthy plantations with support from the financially able and willing community members.

The programme has had many achievements. FABW has managed to register 16 households that have replanted healthy plants. The 16 households had challenges of banana wilt but through community support, they were able to replant their plantations.

Furthermore as a result of the FABW, the community was united and they consolidated their efforts to address challenges using the locally available resources. This cohesion has not only been based on fighting the disease but has also worked as an advocacy group. Putting to task the local leaders and also advocating for access to clean water.

Besides replanting the plantations, the households were supported to plant other food crops for sale such as beans and potatoes. This has helped to revive the economic potentials of households that were strongly affected by the banana wilt disease.

Active Citizens Paint Zebra Crossing

Nansana town, located along the Kampala –Hoima highway 12 kilometers outside the city centre, was full of activity as Active Citizens painted a zebra crossing next to the police station.  Like any other town, road accidents are common. The town has over four schools, a church and a roadside market, yet it doesn’t have a zebra crossing or traffic lights to assist pedestrians cross the busy road.

A few hours before the British Council team arrived in the area, residents had witnessed a minor accident that involved their colleague a “boda boda” rider.

 “How many lives will be lost before authorities take action?” asked Ahmed Menya, a teacher and an Active Citizen.

 In his seven years as resident of Nansana, he has witnessed several road accidents, yet no action had been taken to avert the situation. As an Active Citizen, he thought he had a social responsibility to change things and his idea was painting a zebra crossing.

 Using his personal savings and engaging in different initiatives, he raised money to buy all the requirements for the painting job.

 The next step was to sell the idea to the authorities for moral and legal support. “When I introduced the idea to the authorities, some like the traffic police welcomed it”, he says.

To make this successful, he engaged the schools in the community since they were the major beneficiaries.  After getting a green light from authorities, he executed his plan.

The Mayor of Nansana Town Council, Patrick Wakaima applauded Ahmed and the Active Citizens programme for the initiative. He added, “If there other members amongst you with such brilliant ideas, please bring them forward and we shall see how to support you.”

Ahmed’s work in the community has earned him a fully paid trip to the UK, where he will meet and interact with fellow Active Citizens’ from other countries.

Active Citizens is one of the British Council’s society programmes, designed to improve the sustainability of communities internationally. It works in partnership with local civil society organisations (CSOs) to achieve this goal.

 

 

 

Active Citizens take part in Facilitators Workshop

This year’s Active Citizens facilitators’ training started on the 18th of August at Esella Country Hotel, Namugongo and run up to 22 Aug with 25 participants who were selected from various parts of the country having different professions participated in this workshop.

This workshop is under the British Council’s program Active citizens which involves people that have demonstrated they have a social responsibility within their local community;  youth workers, women’s groups, educators and institutions that are established, trusted and valued in their communities who in turn pass on the skills to their communities.

During the active citizens’ workshop the participants were taught the need for self-reliance in society. For example if a community is to build a water-well, each person would have a role to play. One would bring a brick or two, another person may bring a will barrow and others might bring different material/services needed to build up the well. By using this collective effort, a community uses the available resources to build what is needed even without external support.

“I have learnt the concept of entrepreneurship from this workshop which has inspired me to run my school successfully”, Says Bogere Samuel a participant who started a primary school with only 2,500 UGX (1 Dollar). During the training, participants were equipped with entrepreneurial skills which Bogera hopes to integrate into running his school successfully.

This training wasn’t targeted to benefit only the select facilitators but also many people from different societies who are inspired and facilitated by mostly the chosen facilitators.

Most of the participants shared their life stories which showed a lot of hardships they had experienced when implementing social responsibilities within their local communities but with the mentorship got from this workshop, their creative and innovative minds were highly motivated to do greater work smoothly.

One of the participants Kyobutungi Ruth demonstrated the need of investing in tangible assets like goats, cows other than spending on material needs like fancy clothes which are not productive.

“It has helped me acquire various skills that I have always needed to run all my business ventures and it has also met all the expectations I came with” added Ruth

At the end of the training, the participants gained skills and knowledge on creative and innovative ways of engaging their communities to deliver social transformation actions using the little available resources and cascading the knowledge in their communities.

It also equipped them with social enterprise and entrepreneurship skills that empowered them to engage in livelihood activities that support and sustain the proposed social actions. 

Poem by Martin Okec (Active Citizen)

Oh British Council

I saw you in blue last time,

Smart in the Ours by right Uniform,

Is this you again?

Dressing up like an Army man,

In the Active Citizen Uniform.

 

Oh British Council

It seems this time you are well armed,

But with a corrupted village like Uganda,

Will this really work?

Any way like NAADS Program,

With your few trained mobile police,

And C.I.Ds you will indeed create a significant gap.

 

Oh British Council

Army men would need guns,

Likewise the Police men will need them,

But for your case only stone in our pockets.

What you have delivered at Esella is enough?

We promise we will equip the community,

With entrepreneurial skills,

And change their attitude positively,

Towards voluntary service delivery and community development,

Until Uganda marries your daughter,

Sustainable development only.

 

Author: Martin Okec (Active Citizen) 

External links