International Programs

Background to the Program

In line with our aim of promoting youth engagement in international affairs, FICUBC coordinates community development programs overseas that provide valuable life and work experiences for our members. During the summer of 2006, our group began working in the community of Namuwongo in Kampala, Uganda.

Namuwongo is an urban slum on the outskirts of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. It is an informal community in which residents constantly face the threat of eviction and the destruction of their homes. Despite its existence for over fifty years, Namuwongo is situated in a government owned and protected wetland, which technically means that the residents are living as illegal squatters.

Despite this precarious legal situation and the pervasive fear of evication, Namuwongo is home to approximately 10 000 residents, although no one knows the exact population as a census has never been conducted in the area and would be impractical due to the congestion and constantly changing flows of residents. The local population consists overwhelming of Acholi, a tribe from Northern Uganda that has been devastated by twenty years of ongoing conflict in the region, and if Namuwongo were located anywhere other than Kampala we would probably refer to it as an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp. The people of Namuwongo work as brickmakers, brewers, craftsmen and women, farmers, boda-boda (motorcycle) drivers, and in a host of other occupations. There are community structures such as local government leaders, religious groups and churches, and women and youth groups. Just like you and I, the people of Namuwongo want a decent quality of life, not just for themselves, but also for their children who often lack adequate nutrition, health services, and education.

FICUBC was wary of launching a community development program in Namuwongo for a number of reasons. In a country where NGOs are as common as anywhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is to say – very common, none are located within Namuwongo. Upon further investigation, we learned of a number of development projects that had been initiated in the past but all of which inevitably failed, due to a lack of community interest, the exit of the group who had initiated the project, and most often a combination of the two.

It was in light of this history that FICUBC, in cooperation with a Ugandan NGO called the Practicing Environmental Managers Organization (PEMO), designed a community development project for Namuwongo that would promote its integration and sustained commitment. Following a preliminary assessment by PEMO commissioned by FICUBC, a community profile was compiled and it was agreed to adapt a development tool used by PEMO in rural areas to be used in Namuwongo. This tool is called a Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), which in the case of Namuwongo was shortened to PA, that integrates the community in the assessment of its problems and the identification of opportunities and solutions.

The Program

In cooperation with a local women’s group, FICUBC and PEMO mobilized the community for this new initiative. We moved throughout each of the four zones (Kasanvu, Zone A, Zone B, and Kanyogoga) explaining our intentions and encouraging people to become involved.

Although there was a high, although completely understandable, amount of suspicion by many community members of our motives, our elections proceeded more smoothly than most in the Great Lakes Region, although there was enough drama to ensure that we all got a taste of what would come in the next months.

With our 53 community representatives selected, from interest groups such as men, women, youth, the elderly, the disabled, landlords, and local chairpersons (LCs, local government leaders), we began the PA process with daily afternoon meetings Monday through Friday. These meetings were extremely well attended, with many unelected but interested community members attending as observers, and could take anywhere from 3-4 hours.

Each day for the first month we would work on a new tool of the PA process, although sometimes the translations involved with three working languages or our commitment to ensuring that all members coudl voice their opinions on any topic we addressed meant that it could take days to finish a single tool. We drew a community resource map, which for some was the first representation they had ever seen of Namuwongo, and had the representatives identify what they thought were important features. Everyone seemed to enjoy the printouts we had brought of Namuwongo taken off of Google Earth, especially when we compared them to our own map. We continued on working day after day with the representatives on tools such as gender analysis, income analysis, historical profile, and creating problem trees. For detailed information on each of the tools and the information gained please see the Final Report below.

As the PA program came to a close we now had a resource that would prove invaluable to future development projects in the community. The creation of Community Action Plans (CAPs) for the two problems identified as the most pressing by the community outlined the problems, possible solutions, relevant stakeholders, and any other information deemed necessary in addressing the issue. Of the two CAPs produced, for Land Eviction and Poor Sanitation, the latter was selected for our first community development project.

In order to continue to promote community involvement and leadership in the development program, it was agreed that a community-based organization (CBO) would be created to represent the interests of Namuwongo residents. Just as the 10 000 strong general population was represented by 53 zone reps, the reps in turn elected an executive council (3 members per zone) to carry on their work. This election marked the end of the PA process and the start of actual programming to meet the goals of the CAP.

Namuwongo Community Development Organization (NACODO)

Following their election by the zone reps, members of the new executive council began their meetings to select a name for the new CBO as well as produce its constution. Having completed these tasks and elected a new leadership structure with positions such as Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary, Spokesperson, and Zone Mobilizers, the executive laid out their strategic plan for the next three months. First on their agenda was addressing the problem of poor sanitation. Waste, both household and human, is a major health hazard in the community. It is a mortal threat to the residents, especially the young children, in the form of diseases such as cholera, dysentry, malaria, and the worst threat of all to the young children, diarhhea caused by bacterial infections.

In order to combat these problems the executive launched a weekly program of community clean-ups, designed to remove waste from the drainage channels that run throughout Namuwongo in order to reduce standing water and improve the water flow, and additionally to reduce the flooding that was all too common in the rainy season. This program has been incredibly successful with as many as 160 people showing up every Saturday morning to take part. The difference is visible, especially around the focus areas of markets and water points.

The original concept of the program that community members should be involved in not just the implementation of the program, but also its design, seemed to be proving its worth. After countless hours of meetings the community residents now had invested their time and energy in the design of a project and CBO that they could legitimately call their own, and were determined to see it succeed.

Following the success of the clean-up program, which will continue indefinitely, NACODO is designing new community outreach and education programs to increase sensitization on issues related to sanitation, in order to change the behaviours that led to the problem in the first place.

Looking Towards the Future

As FICUBC members return to school this fall they leave with a great sense of accomplishment, as well as many new and close friends. We return to UBC with practical knowledge of the realities of life in developing countries, indeed in the worst areas of developing countries in terms of standard of living, and we can apply this knowledge in our academic work and future professional careers. We look forward to seeing the program, as embodied by the continuing efforts of NACODO, continue to grow and succeed and take on new challenges in the community, and we hope to continue to support it by mobilizing resources from abroad.

The prospects for NACODO look bright as they continue to expand their network of stakeholders and design new programs, all the time benefiting from the continuous involvement and support of the community. Every Saturday someone new is brought on board, someone who used to be suspicious of the program or simply someone who had never heard of it in the first place. Regardless, the stage has been set for continued programming in Namuwongo that will serve to improve the quality of life for its residents in the years to come.

There are photos of Namuwongo, the PA program, and NACODO that are posted on our online photo space at Flickr (

FICUBC Namuwongo Project Brief

Preliminary Study – prepared for FICUBC by the Practicing Environmental Managers’ Organization (PEMO)

Namuwongo Community Development Organisation (NACODO) Action Plan

Community Participation in Development Planning: The Namuwongo Final Report


13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paul  |  September 19, 2006 at 9:15 am

    Thanks FICUBC for the tremendous work you did for Namuwongo as a community.Uganda delights in you and we pray that you get necessary support in any form for the good of Namuwongo and her inhabitants.You endured the scorching afternoons,water and chapat for lunch, may God reward you abundantly.Thanks for the humane heart and please continue else where.

  • 2. Amongin Jacquiline  |  December 6, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    Very good work. Can Hope foundation be part of your network?

  • 3. ERIC  |  January 27, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Very nice work,thanks we will always appreciate the work you do.

  • 4. ogwang Felix  |  February 1, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Expand you programes to cover Northern Uganda.(OYAM DISTRICT).

  • 5. William Tayeebwa  |  February 19, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    FIC-UBC: Remain such an inspiration to humanity. Make your love and passion for Africa contagious on a global scale.

  • 6. ClapekDodki  |  July 16, 2007 at 12:54 pm


  • 7. ClapekDodki  |  July 17, 2007 at 10:02 am

    nudo pubblico

  • 8. ASAPH NTANDA  |  August 24, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    such initiatives are good but tthen may you be specific how the disdvantaged youth can benefit from your programs. the methods used while conducting your business otherwise I support you cause

  • 9. ASAPH NTANDA  |  August 24, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    may you also guide us to where your offices are and help us with your contacts

  • 10. mwijukye moses  |  August 14, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    thanks for all you are doing aim a therapist in case you need my services i will be willing to volunteer with you for two months

  • 11. Sseruwagi Habib  |  December 12, 2008 at 7:44 am

    Very good work, I hope you show the youth the direction on creativity and innovativeness to improve the lives of people around them..

  • 12. safiina  |  August 26, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    hi guyz , how come i can’t download the Namuwongo final report??? mbu invalid request Robert pliz do sumtg thanx

  • 13. Mwijukye Ntanda  |  July 31, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks for the good work you are doing.its my humble prayer that my beloved district Mitooma will be considered most especialy Bittereko sub-county which has been forgotten by many leaders since independence


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

%d bloggers like this: