In Uganda, women’s day is a public holiday and thus a good opportunity to organize a celebration. The Uganda Domestic Biogas Programme (UDBP) used this day to reward some of its beneficiaries and partners; and in return, they received an award for their contribution to women empowerment. The ceremony took place at the grounds of one of UDBP’s partners, a women’s group called Gabula Atudde, in Mukono.
Ms. Margaret Nakiwala, a widow, gave a public testimony of what biogas has meant to her. With biogas, she can now cook easily and doesn’t have to look for firewood anymore. The slurry is used on her vegetable garden, where she already sees the benefits; increased production and less plants diseases. She can even sell surplus vegetables now, unlike before when she was consuming all with her family. Ms Nakiwala called upon the “ones that do not have a biogas plant yet, to get one as soon as they can.” Her enthusiasm for biogas makes her a perfect promoter. For her communication skills, credibility, and the number of new clients that she brought to the programme, she received a certificate for best female promoter. The certificate came with a bicycle which she can actually use in her promotion activities.
And it is not just Ms. Nakiwala who is promoting biogas here. The founder of Gabula Atudde, 84 year old Mrs Luyombya Christina Bukirwa, has been a biogas user for 13 years, and it is her passion to bring other members on board as well.
Biogas is primarily benefiting women, as they are the ones cooking and searching for firewood. The different national biogas programmes have taken an effort to make women real beneficiaries. Efforts go from encouraging men to http://sycamorelandtrust.org/price/ take on certain “female” tasks in the household, as well as training women to become biogas entrepreneurs.
UDBP received the first award on promoting women’s empowerment through biogas. This award was given out by Hivos because of the outstanding efforts taken by the programme as well as the results so far. The Ugandans have taken the aspect of promoting gender equality seriously and have paid attention to this issue from the beginning. The programme ensures that both women and men are trained in each household on the use and maintenance of the digester, it walks an extra mile to get women into masonry, it has set up partnerships with women’s groups and it has a focus on constructing plants at female headed households, among others.
The results after one year are encouraging, but Uganda is not yet there. The award was given to UDBP to strengthen them in their efforts and to motivate other country programmes that are also on their way. On women’s day in Uganda, awarding female and male users, promoters, and masons showed that such encouragement meant a lot to people. On their way out, after the ceremony, people that missed the boat talked enthusiastically about the awards, wanting to win the same next year.