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Reconstructing War Weary Northern Uganda

Todd Shapera | Uganda

Two women in Northern Uganda carry water from a newly drilled wells in their hamlet. They walk to their huts across a newly built gravel road. Access to clean water and new roads are two of three legs of U.S. AID and Winrock International's $500 million NUDEIL construction projects in Northern Uganda. The impoverished region, now peaceful, is recovering from a long insurgency by Joseph Kony's the Lords Resistance Army. Accessible clean water can transform family health and free mothers' time for other economically productive activities. The new roads can mean easier travel to markets, safer travel to school for children, and easier access by health care workers and security forces.

Northern Uganda enjoys relative peace after suffering decades of conflict spurred by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army. Nearly 1.4 million people were impacted by kidnapping, property destruction and killing.  With Kony run into the Congo jungle, refugees from bleak Displaced Person (IDP) camps began returning to their hamlets, and Kony's abducted child soldiers began trickling home.

In March 2012, I documented reconstruction through U.S. AID's $50 million rural infrastructure project, NUDEIL --  drilling wells and building schools and gravel roads. Implemented by Winrock International, NUDEIL collaborates with local governments, and emphasizes using local labor (rather than machinery), to provide impoverished farmers with needed cash.

Separately, Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC) was reviving local cotton farming as a regional cash crop for subsistence farmers. GADC founder, South African Bruce Robertson, retooled Gulu's war-damaged ginnery, and supports long-displaced farmers with training and a hungry ginnery. Last year, the third season, GADC purchased cotton from nearly 10,000 small farmers, and provided work to 300 Gulu ginnery employees.

Winrock International

Acumen Fund

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