Students grow their future at Lomokori Primary School.
The Napak district in Karamoja Region, Uganda, is the most sparsely populated and one of the poorest in the country. This is due to decades of conflict, insecurity, and extreme weather. Furthermore, there is a severe under-investment in services and infrastructure in the area.
Traditionally, Karamojong boys are responsible for tending the family’s cattle. However, with no access to school or other opportunities, the boys often fall into cattle rustling and violence. Education is widely recognised as preventing this behaviour and is therefore an important foundation of peace in the communities.
Furthermore, Karamojong girls are traditionally married at a young age. However, studies have demonstrated that each year of education (primary or secondary) reduces the likelihood for child marriage and teenage pregnancy which has wide-reaching implications.
9 in 10 young children in the Napak region do not receive a suitably nutritious diet.
1 in 5 children aged 6-12 in the Napak region attend school.
This is why our work is so important to the lives of these children in Lomokori Primary School, Napak District, Uganda. Our Hunger and Nutrition Programme with Voluntary Action for Development – VAD, which was generously funded by Baillie Gifford, both addresses child under-nutrition while simultaneously strengthening the pull factors for attending school. One simple, hot meal a day can make the world of difference.
The first step of the project was to acquire and cultivate land on which to grow crops.
A total of 11 acres are currently under cultivation. 5 acres belonged to Lomokori Primary School, 2 acres were given by a parent, Mr. Lokoro, and a further 4 acres were mobilized by other parents at the school.
The land was cleared and ploughed using a pair of oxen and an ox plough which were provided as part of the project.
Thankfully good weather conditions ensured that students could plant a wide variety of crops: maize, beans, green gram, cassava and vegetables.
Secondly, the project involved training pupils, staff and parents in best agronomic practices.
We equipped a total of 879 pupils (434 boys and 445 girls), 13 School Management Committee and Parent Teacher Association members, and 10 teachers in the best agronomic practices.
This included: weeding, planting, spacing of crops and knowing the proper seasons for the crops and different agronomical requirements for different crops. The skills obtained have helped the children to apply them both at school and in their homes as well.
Thirdly, high quality cooking facilities have been installed to produce daily hot meals.
A kitchen, food store and fire places for the energy-efficient stoves were constructed on the school grounds. Due to cost inflation of construction materials the kitchen and food store don’t currently have a roof, but our partner VAD is hoping to see this completed in the following weeks.
And finally, a School Agricultural Club was formed to ensure the sustainability of the project.
40 pupils (25 boys, 15 girls) were further equipped with knowledge to ensure the sustainability of the project. They will continue to plant, grow and harvest further crops each year. The SAC led 32 peer-to-peer sessions which enables them to share their knowledge with other pupils at the school.
The children are not only growing food but are growing their future!