Skip to content

The Home of Africa’s Adult Education Community

Back to magazine

Poverty Alleviation Through Collective Farming

8 May 2024 | Teddy Naluwu | Unbound Kampala Benefits of ALE In Africa


Members with mature Melons Uganda

According to the World Bank (2017), rural communities have higher illiteracy rates (20% of the population aged 10 and above have never been to school) compared to urban areas (10%). This lack of education hinders their ability to take advantage of available economic opportunities as they lack the necessary skills and knowledge, leading them into a cycle of poverty. Adult Learning and Education (ALE) programs are crucial for such communities as they provide functional skills and knowledge to help them overcome these challenges.

Tweggattirewamu Tufune Enkyuukakyuuka Mumaka Gaffe (shortly, Twegatte) is a Community Empowerment Group (CEG) located in Kyotera district, Uganda. It was established in March 2023 with the objective of reducing poverty through collective farming. The group is supported by Unbound Kampala, a Civil Society Organization (CSO) that introduced the Integrated Community Learning for Wealth Creation (ICOLEW) programme in Kyotera District, Uganda in December 2020.

The group comprises 35 participants, including 3 males and 32 females, who work together to support each other on their respective farms. They utilize sustainable agricultural practices such as trenching, weeding, and intercropping, to increase their productivity and reduce production costs. Twegatte (ICOLEW) Community Empowerment Group (CEG) is in Buzindwa village where they carry out watermelon farming in Mr Lule Tonny’s coffee garden, who is also a member of the group.

So, what is the ICOLEW Programme?

This is a programme for adults that combines learning basic literacy and numeracy with creating wealth. The program also focuses on encouraging people to continue learning and improving their skills throughout their lives, and on using these skills to have a positive impact on themselves and their communities. Many learners, such as those at Twegatte CEG, enrol in ALE programmes with the hope of improving their financial situation. Therefore, the learning outcomes must align with their expectations to ensure the successful implementation of the programme. In other words, the programme's objectives should resonate with the learners' goals and aspirations to create a meaningful and valuable learning experience.

Learners engage in participatory rural appraisal (PRA) techniques to generate priority topics for learning in the group. This process allows them to identify challenges that hinder progress and develop strategies to overcome them. Twegatte CEG has identified low incomes as one of the primary obstacle that is fundamental to other related challenges they face. Over 90% of the learners rely on agriculture as their primary source of income. However, due to a lack of awareness of best practices, they have low productivity and high input costs, resulting in inadequate earnings. To overcome this challenge, they have devised an action plan. The plan involves collectively learning and applying sustainable agricultural practices to enhance their earning potential and help eliminate poverty.

Sustainable Agriculture Practices (SAP) encourage individuals to utilize the resources they already have, such as the land they own and local agricultural inputs like seeds and manure. With the support of Unbound Kampala to organise learning activities, the learners established a watermelon farming project on half an acre of land.

The project was named the Watermelon Income Generating Project. Twegatte CEG worked together as a team to clear the land, plant crops and manage the project. The anticipated earnings of the project are over USD 300, which will be used to initiate other projects such as piggery production and improving sanitary structures such as bedding, latrines, kitchens and more. The learners attribute their success to the strong group cohesion fostered by the ICOLEW program. They have also been assessed practically on the application and adoption of the knowledge they have acquired. They have acquired and implemented sustainable agricultural practices such as intercropping, which is evident in the story of growing watermelons on a coffee farm.

This story demonstrates that taking small actions and acquiring knowledge can have positive outcomes that gradually lead to change in households and communities. It emphasizes the significance of ALE programmes for community learners. However, these efforts are often constrained financially and inadequate to reach a broader illiterate population. To create effective and sustainable ALE programmes, the acquisition of practical skills and knowledge must be matched by improved support. This will encourage increased enrolment of learners and faster adoption, while also accelerating learners' incomes, enabling them to meet their daily needs. The government should increase support and funding to strengthen the ALE sector as a facilitator of the other pillars of the Parish Development Model, a government programme aimed at eradicating poverty.