Of Uganda’s 44.3 million people, 76 per cent reside in rural areas. At least, 41 per cent of Ugandans live on less than $1.90 a day.
The National Planning Act of 2010 declared the whole of Uganda a planning area. However, the population boom in urban areas such as Kampala has created unimaginable slums. Sadly, Ugandan slums are blighted areas that aren't easy to revitalize. Many privileged citizens view slums as prisons for poor people.
On any day you visit them, Kampala slums are characterized by bee-hive activity. Residents ‘steal’ electricity by illegally tapping into overhead lines. In alleys, sewage drips onto children's bare feet. At night, people are forced to dodge flying toilets – plastic bags that serve as makeshift toilets before being discarded by their owners because, between 10 pm and 6 am, community toilets are locked for cleaning.
In many slum communities, it is not unusual to see children selling ripe bananas and other foodstuffs along the streets until 1 am. Many boys and girls have been raised by single parents. Many children still cannot attend and complete formal school. Many children especially girls, at the age of 12 drop out and start seeing older men - becoming pregnant and/or getting infected with several sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/Aids.
According to UNICEF, many people in semi-urban areas drop out of school. Not just because of limited finances but also due to malnourishment, poor school attendance, and early pregnancies. Financial difficulties force children into the world of work, thanks to the poor environment and social exclusion.
Similarly, according to the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) and Education and Sports Sector Annual Performance Reports (ESSAPRs), 43 per cent of learners who join primary one never make it to primary seven in Uganda, 53 per cent being girls. Out of school, many girls are forced into sex work.
Some sex workers, it is said wash and reuse condoms to save money, struggling to find ways to pay their rent/meals. In Kikubamutwe – Kabalagala – a Kampala suburb, many women use their rented rooms as lodges and when a customer comes by, children have to stay outside by the doorway and wait until when the customer is gone.
Despite this widespread deprivation, Kampala still offers a hopeful vision for the future that other cities can emulate. Through our ebullient and charismatic approaches, we are creating initiatives that will enable women and men to gain skills, learn new abilities, and receive a source of sustainable income. We want to help others believe in themselves, and we hope that doing this will inspire them to fulfil their dreams.
Through the 'We Will Win Initiative', we are empowering girls and boys in need. We will recruit some of the most impoverished children from the slums. Many are born to illiterate parents, and one in five little girls has been sexually assaulted. The skills training and intensive tutoring that people will receive will make them more successful than most graduates of elite private schools.
While the idea of urban development is appealing, and many countries have made it a priority, improving living conditions in places like slums can be extremely difficult. Billions of dollars are spent each year to help poor countries. In Haiti and South Sudan, one can still see fleets of luxury sport utility vehicles driven by aid organizations.
Insufficient attention is being paid to solving the actual problems of the natives. A long-term, sustainable economic development plan is needed.
It's time for international aid to be better targeted. It has the potential to help troubled places make dramatic improvements. That's why the 'We Will Win Initiative' is so intriguing as an alternative model. Its emphasis on empowerment will provide skills to people who have the least access to opportunities. Skills that will allow them to actively participate in the processes they watch on television. We believe that this will be one of the most effective development projects in this part of the world.
The 'We Will Win Initiative' will have an enormous impact on people in low-income communities across Uganda, reaching more than 3.2 million of them. The plan is to teach people the skills needed for a successful career in filmmaking and content creation. This will help fight sexual assault, teach young people how to start businesses, and run information centres based on knowledge gathered from further learning.
Some of the productions could encourage people to run public health campaigns. They will form savings Saccos to achieve financial inclusion. Others will learn how to fight for their rights, engage political leaders, and do other things that help people in need. The initiative will demonstrate how individuals can work together to create stunning film productions. We Will Win will bring together experts to create global standard works and help budding producers develop their skills.
The ‘We Will Win’ model will eventually be scalable throughout Uganda and Africa. And other slum communities will have their own untapped 'We Will Win' concepts waiting to be discovered. The world will no doubt be inspired by this example. Many people who earn less than $40 a month will see their income increase. With these skills, they will find opportunities to earn $250 per month. We expect that as they develop more skills and experience, they will be able to find roles paying $450 a month.
It is believed that children are usually a product of their environment. In Uganda and most urban and semi-urban Africa, there are several school dropouts. This makes it difficult to ensure that proper values are inculcated in children, who in turn raise an immoral generation leading to exacerbating the poverty cycle. This results in an uneducated generation and later incompetent citizens.
Without initiatives like 'We Will Win', real transformation will not happen. The program will teach many people that slum dwellers are as good as anybody else. They will gain the confidence to make a positive change in their society.
The We Will Win initiative needs the support and partnership of everyone. This success will show the power of a grassroots organization to make change even in the hardest conditions. As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
“No one has ever become poor from giving.” - Anne Frank
The author is the CEO of HiPipo