Integrating sustainability into community empowerment in Uganda

by | Aug 2, 2022 | Innovation Stories

Have you ever turned your small idea into a local innovation? Here’s my innovation journey with the IFRC Limitless program to promote employment opportunities and environmental protection in my community during the pandemic.

Hi, My name is Fred Marule, I’m a volunteer from the Uganda Red Cross Society, and I joined the IFRC Youth Innovation Academy Limitless program.

Initially, my idea was to look into how the social-economic welfare of socially vulnerable groups (such as young and single mothers, people with disabilities, and orphans) could be enhanced through local innovations. Due to COVID-19, prolonged lockdowns, market restrictions, livelihoods, and small-scale enterprises have been disrupted. 

In addition to joining the workshops of the innovation academy, I received 500 CHF to test and prototype my idea with the community. Together with my volunteer colleagues, we engaged the local council and religious leaders as our entry points into the community, and presented our idea: “Promoting employment opportunities through localized low-cost high impact innovations that foster environmental conservation.”  

The community welcomed the idea, and we began prototyping. 75 socially vulnerable people, including single and young mothers, people with disabilities, and orphans, were trained in handicraft skills such as craft shoe making and basket weaving.

Craft shoes and basket weaving training in the local community

As for raw materials, we used some of the non-disposable manufactured products, like the used up and thrown away car and motorcycle tires for crafting shoes, used and thrown polythene bags and papers for basket weaving and mat making, and so on.

Therefore, my project has three important aspects;

  1. Employment opportunities for socially vulnerable people,
  2. Environmental protection through recycling and reuse, and
  3. Socioeconomic transformation

The initiative was a tremendous success, and the skills taught were taken seriously. And currently, these learned skills are being passed on to new members of the community.

Members have started generating some income from utilizing the local market where they sell their finished products. They decided to form a group where they could come and practice these skills, as well as teach the new members at least twice a week at specific hours. From here, a savings and internal lending scheme were started in addition to the handicraft work.

Community members with their complete handicraft work

They are now looking forward to integrating more skills like soap or reusable sanitary pads making, and tailoring, among other income-generating activities. And so, as idea initiators, we hope that we are able to source funds and support these members and other people in the communities. 

I appreciate the fact that young people in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are given a platform to build and implement ideas that positively impact their own communities. Thank you IFRC and the Solferino Academy, indeed together we are limitless!

Photo Credit: Corrie Butler

15 Comments

  1. Fred Marule

    Hi,
    My thoughts here are about believing in ourselves. This is exactly when we shall overcome challenges in our own communities.

    They’re a variety of local innovations we could tap in and engage communities for their participation and record success. Community engagement is very key as this will enable our programs and or projects to be community-led and have strong sustainability no matter how small or big ideas will be.

    Climate change mitigations must be utilized as source of economic development so our climate change actions will always be welcomed and participated in by locals.

    #Building climate and economic resilient communities through small community-led initiatives.

    Reply
  2. Kule Mwesige

    Thanks for promoting the ideas into practice,

    Reply
  3. Misaki Daniel

    This is great. I have personally known Fred. He passionately does what he has to and stays focused

    Reply
  4. Pam Jacobs s

    Thank you Fred for sharing your work, that was interesting.

    Reply
  5. Nsamba Julius

    Your idea is really good. Thanks 🤝

    Reply
  6. Baluku Geoffrey Majebere

    Am Baluku Geoffrey majebere , thank you Mr Fred for this great opportunity.
    May God continue bless you.

    Reply
  7. Kagwa Abraham

    Ooh Fred great climate lover. I so much love the initiative

    Reply
  8. Stephen Arinitwe

    Woow. So Inspiring and interesting. Keep good work Entrepreneur, and I wish more support comes to your way👏

    Reply
  9. Oliver

    This so amazing, thanks Fred for such a brilliant innovative idea of touching the young souls. The Good lord see u through.

    Reply
  10. Fred Marule

    Very much overwhelmed by everyone’s comments and appreciating the work I and my colleagues do for our community.

    Perhaps when they’re more support in terms of resource capital and full participation of the community members, our small idea will turn big and with a large coverage.

    Thank you everyone.
    Thank you IFRC Solferino Academy.
    Thank you Uganda Red Cross Society.

    Reply
  11. Bruce

    So interesting, Uganda needs people like you.🤝🤝🤝

    Reply
  12. Jailos Mwandosya

    Brilliant innovative ideas, if possible please you can teach so that also our community here should do as small business

    Reply
  13. Joackm Bwambale

    Thanks a lot Fred for the love of the alugit community as citizens we have a lot to play in community transformation

    Reply
  14. Kabugho Sarah

    Thanks for hardworking

    Reply
  15. Jockus

    Thanks brother for helping the community, Jah bless,
    Please train others also to do the same,

    Reply

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