Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
“When elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.” This African saying could have been coined for the millions of villagers who were driven from their homes during the long conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Ugandan government.
Finally, after 20 years, peace is returning to the countryside. People are leaving the crowded camps where they took refuge and going back to rebuild their villages and their lives.
It’s been a generation. Houses have crumbled and fields have gone back to wilderness. Seed stocks and farming tools are long gone. Wells and pumps are broken and unusable. Starting over won’t be easy, but the people are determined. ELCA World Hunger, through The Lutheran World Federation, is accompanying the people on the road to renewed life.
‘Because there is water, more people are coming home’
Galdino Ongaya, a leader in the village of Davo Iwayo, says, “When we first moved back, there was no water. It is very difficult to have strength to work in the fields when there is no water.” Until the new well was installed, the nearest source of safe water was four miles away. The well was made possible by funds donated to ELCA World Hunger.
The people of Davo Iwayo are working together to ensure that their new well will provide safe water far into the future. Sustainability begins with a community water committee. Committee members learn record-keeping, hygiene, sanitation, safe water storage and community outreach. A pump mechanic is trained and equipped to keep the well in good repair. Neighbors regularly pay a small fee to maintain their community’s water source.
Another well was installed in the village of Ayuu Lupur. Leader Patrick Musaka says, “Because there is water, more people are coming home. We are trying to bring back our Acholi culture; we gather around the fire and tell our stories to the children.
‘Next year we will make miracles!’
Another challenge is food, both for the table and for market. In the village of Oilotor, neighbors work together in a farmers’ group with the support of ELCA World Hunger.
Together the group purchased four oxen, a plow, tools and seeds for a community market garden. Members also learned the benefits of tending kitchen gardens to provide food for their families year-round. In the past, villagers would gather wild vegetables, but it was often difficult to find enough to feed a family. Martina Asio, one of a family of 10, says, “Our diets are much more balanced now, making us healthier.”
Health care, microfinance programs, job training and other forms of sustainable development are springing up in the renewed communities of northeastern Uganda. Oilotor’s lead farmer, Ben Okojoi, sums up: “We are proud of our work. We can make plans for the future, and next year we will make miracles!”
ELCA World Hunger is an integrated program of relief, development, education and advocacy that works to address the root causes of hunger and poverty in more than 60 countries around the world, including the United States.
Sustainable development ensures the long-term viability of a community. Development fights hunger and poverty through sustainable agriculture, primary health care, health and nutrition education, literacy training, water and sanitation projects, microfinance and many other methods.
- Go to ELCA World Hunger for more information on how your gifts address the root causes of hunger and poverty around the world.
- ELCA World Hunger offers a free video series to raise awareness of hunger around the world and in our own backyards.
- Learn more about hunger and its root causes with the free downloadable Toolkits from ELCA World Hunger.
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