by Tracey DeGraaf, Director of International Programs
Resilient communities are not just tough, but also quick to learn, quick to apply learnings, and have the ability to move forward.
So what exactly does that look like for a rural community in South Western Uganda to move forward?
Mugisha Patrickis describes how people quickly applied their learnings to uplift the region through a Savings And Credit Cooperative (SACCO). Following the soap-making workshops that ACTS conducted in Katerera Village, 21 people from eight villages came together to form a SACCO from the soap-making activities. SACCO loans are accessible to cooperative members despite their employment status and are easier to pay back than a loan from a bank. A SACCO loan rebuilds the members’ savings account because the interest is being reinvested into the cooperative credit system – providing for a greater sum of money for members to borrow from. This system is supportive of communities in harsh economic conditions.
Patrickis says that, “in this SACCO we have money saved where any member of the group can access short-term loans, and we are planning to equip every member of the group with the financial capacity to pay school fees for our children. We sell our soap at a relatively cheaper price to enable all community members to improve sanitation and hygiene, and through this activity, our social capital has been raised, which has increased togetherness.”
Isn’t it interesting that Patrickis mentions that “togetherness” has increased?
While the focus of ACTS’ work is on Water And Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) in order to improve community resilience through improved health, it was the efforts of the people to increase “togetherness” that increased their resilience to poverty. The SACCO that Patrickis speaks about now produces 40 – 80 liters of liquid soap every month and sells it through the cooperative! This not only improves the health of the community, but it also improves their income and their access to credit, which improves their financial resiliency in a harsh economic environment.
The key to building resilient communities is to enable resilient people to alleviate their own poverty by leveraging their own assets and abilities. Patrickis and the SACCO in Katerera village is a perfect example of how resilient people used their own creativity and resourcefulness to alleviate poverty in their communities.
Because ACTS is equally quick to learn and apply our learnings, we are taking steps to support WASH cooperatives with entrepreneurial training.
Stay tuned to track the results of this new intervention.