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Community Innovation Programme (CIP)

Empowering former IDPs to rebuild their livelihoods and create sustainable incomes and food security in their communities

Photo of Penny Mbabazi
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

My idea is to re-launch a Community Innovation Programme (CIP) like the one I did with my local rotary club in Kiryandongo district. Different from the charity and philanthropic approaches we used to make interventions, I will this time focus on tapping into the imaginative and creative mind of women and youth so that they are able to come up with ideas they turn into local business to address the problem of poverty, youth unemployment and food security in their community. My approach will be a bottom-up where I will engage these groups at their level and leverage on their inherent abilities to help themselves. I choose to use this approach because I believe a person experiencing a certain problem is always an ‘expert’ in finding a solution, and any other support should only come in to provide the technical knowledge and support necessary to realise the full range of possibilities. The best ideas will be selected through a competitive process by a team of experts (social entrepreneurs) and those that would emerge as winners will be given start-up capital to implement their projects. My solution will address the problem where women and youth who were displaced by the over two decade Northern Uganda conflict are unable to access and own land as an economic resource, in a country like Uganda where over 80% of its population depends on agriculture for food, shelter, water, income and general survival. An estimated 1.8 million were displaced and moved to different parts of the country looking for food and security. Kiryandongo then, a relatively a relatively secure district bordering Northern Uganda, is one of the districts that received a large influx of IDPs. Currently, majority of the people are unable to engage in agriculture either as a business or for subsistence. On average, one acre of land is rented at 200,000 UGX ($55) per year, which many cannot afford. Unable to afford land for agriculture, they are unable to create income to meet their needs.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are women and youth, majority of whom are widows and orphans, who were displaced by the over two decade Northern Uganda conflict that was between the Lord Resistance Army and Government of Uganda from 1986 till 2006. These women and children lost their husbands and parents respectively, at the time when the conflict was its peak. Those who survived, decided to move to neighboring places looking for food and security. On average, each survivor (mainly widows) moved with 5 orphaned children to take care of. Since then, these children have now grown into youths who have not received any formal education to acquire jobs or be able to access or own land to practice agribusiness, which is a common area of business in this community. With this CIP, these groups will receive small loans that will enable them to start small business they believe can address the challenges of poverty, unemployment, food security, and ultimately facilitate peace process in their communities.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

My idea is unique and different. Unlike other programmes being implemented as charity or philanthropy programmes in the community, for example by Rotary and government, the CIP will be run and managed as a social business basing on the needs and strength of people to help themselves. This idea is coming in to address the challenges brought about by the dependency syndrome that was created by both government and relief agencies during the over two decade Northern Uganda conflict. This model will rely on the natural skills and abilities of people to identify problems and suggest solutions that can be nurtured into business projects with an aim of solving the challenges of access and ownership of land, unemployment and food security in the community. Instead of looking at women and youth as receipts of charity donations which very often traps them into poverty, this model will focus on empowering them to take charge of their own destinies with an aim of leading them to prosperity.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Linkages Consulting Limited is a registered company in Uganda with works to empower communities that are emerging from conflicts to rebuild their livelihoods through business strategies. And at the same time, helps companies and organisations connect their businesses by identifying needs and challenges of their stakeholders while finding innovative solutions of addressing them through Corporate Social Responsibility projects. See

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

In my work as a human rights expert, i have over time observed the gap - wide gap- between policy and implementation and the actual needs of communities. The challenges that people, especially, have to deal with on a daily basis have never left my mind. When an opportunity arose to address the issues, i volunteered to take the lead in my rotary club to develop interventions to change the plight of women and their communities. I would do this again, and again!

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

In this community, where majority of the people there are either, former IPDs or refugees, peace has been influenced by tensions surrounding access and ownership of land. Since the Northern Uganda war came to an end, land has been at the center of every conflict that has happened in this community, between families, or community vs government/investors. Like many rural parts of Uganda, everyone’s life depends on land for food, shelter and income. Unable to access or own land for agriculture, many people, especially women and youth who do not own land culturally, are left with little or no means at all to survive. Similarly, prosperity has been influenced by the increasing gap between policy and practice, which continues to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. Much as government has made some efforts to change the situation, the impact has not been significant enough to cause any major socio-economic transformation. To many, peace means bread on the table.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

While implementing this idea, my team will work with OPIT KIC Widows Group as our local partners and beneficiaries. OPI KIC which means, ‘let us feed the orphans’, is a local initiative which consists of a group of women, mainly widows who survived the brutal conflict in Northern Uganda. I’m already engaged with this group where I’m leading a project I initiated in this community through my local Rotary club of Kampala North. The project, which has been running for the last two years, consists of various components including agriculture, health, water and sanitation, education and youth programme. This idea is therefore, coming in as a sustainability strategy to build on the success of Rotary’s work by focusing on incorporating microfinancing for sustainable investment. From these engagements, we expect to see more women and youth owning land, increased household incomes, improved health through proper nutrition and more children attending school among others.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

This community has a passionate group of women organized under OPIT KIC Widow’s Group. Despite their long history of suffering, they are still filled with hope and enthusiasm to make their lives better. Siriba is strategically located on the Kampala-Gulu highway road, which connects Uganda to South Sudan. With its rich and fertile black soils conducive for agribusiness, Siriba has a large growing number of youth who are equally enthusiastic, energetic and fun to work with.

Geographic Focus

The idea is targeting Siriba community in Kiryandongo district, Uganda East Africa.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We shall need 36 months to implement the project. Part of this time will be dedicated to the initial phase of community engagements, popularize the idea and setting expectations with those intending to participate in the program. The remaining time (2.5 years) shall be resorted to implementation of the best ideas, training and general monitoring and evaluation of the activities at different stages of implementation.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

If Yes, how has project idea changed, grown, or evolved since last year? (2,000 characters)

My idea was not submitted last year. However since my submission, i have so far received fantastic feedback from individuals who have given me new ideas and perspectives on how best my idea can achieve even greater impact. Specifically, Prof. Russ Davis reviewed my idea and gave me helpful inputs. From our conversations, we have agreed to combine our efforts with the Rural Renaissance Project.


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Photo of Penny Mbabazi

You are most welcome Davis! Looking forward to hear from you.

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