Monday, June 13, 2016

David Batema Gender Issues

Our visit with Judge David Batema was very interesting.  This topic is incredibly important to sustainable development because it applies to all sectors and every individual regardless of status or occupation.
A few things this visit encouraged me to consider are:
1) Equality vs. Equity
I used the metaphor of people with different heights trying to see over a level fence to illustrate this.  If we elevate the short people with the same size blocks as the tall people, the heights will still be uneven, but if we elevate people according to their height (giving some more than others) we can level out and everyone can see over the fence.  This means addressing inequalities on a specific cultural basis.
2) Perspective and privilege
I think the most eye-opening part for me was realizing how much someone's perspective can change how they receive a message.  We all have different levels of privilege and when discussing issues like gender inequality it's very important to consider the cultural context of the speaker and audience members.
3) What's missing from the discussion
Coming from a fairly liberal and politically correct educational background, I immediately noticed a few aspects of equality that were ignored in Judge Batema's presentation. I think it's important to reflect on why LGBTQ rights were not discussed. Is Uganda's culture at a point where they can discuss these rights yet? Do women's rights have to be established and advocated for before Uganda can consider LGBTQ rights?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Rural Visit

One of the first experiences in Uganda was our trip to the rural village, which I really think opened all of our eyes. We got to witness how more than 60% of the population lives in the country first hand. My favorite part of the day, and maybe even the whole trip, was seeing all the children wave and smile at us. Since I live in a town that does a lot of farming, it was also very interesting to see how it is done in Africa.

Agriculture is very important to sustainable development, and can arguably be related to every SDG goal. We learned that cocoa is a very important part in Ugandan economy, but that they export their raw goods to outside countries just to buy back the finished product at a much higher price. Another issue Ugandan agriculture faces is that most of the farms are small, and every crop is grown and harvested by hand. This leads to sustenance farming, or farming that only can feed the family that owns it. Fixing these problems would help sustainable development throughout the country.

A couple questions to ponder upon...
Would it be beneficial for Uganda to cut out the middle man and start producing final products within it's own country?
Although America has perfected large scale farming, large scale farming is not always the best solution to every country. Would Uganda benefit from large scale farming?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The time we spent at the Kikandwa health clinic just outside of Kampala was truly an eye-opening experience for me. Kikandwa, in the short time it has been open, has already made a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of Ugandans living in this area. As a health center III, Kikandwa fulfills a variety of functions in the village. The duties and treatments the medical staff can provide include but are not limited to; maternity tests, prenatal care and test, blood tests for diseases like typhoid, HIV, Varicella, Syphilis, treatments for ulcers, urinalysis, etc. The clinic contains reception, library and scan room, doctor’s exam room, a laboratory, treatment room, the main ward, and pharmacy. The entire operation is almost exclusively run by nurses, but doctors will come to the clinic to check in from time to time.

The mission at Kikandwa relates to sustainable development primarily through the goals of good health and well-being, decent work and economic growth, and sustainable cities and communities. As a healthcare center, it is Kikandwa’s mission to provide medical care Ugandans finding themselves in rural villages. Building the clinic in a rural area provides new opportunities for employment for the people currently living there. Lastly, it contributes to sustaining the community, as the clinics continued efforts toward fighting disease and providing care improves the quality of life for all Ugandans that are able to access it.

Questions for the group:
1)      How do you think Kikandwa can move away from being a primarily donor funded clinic?

2)      Do you believe adding a specialized ward to Kikandwa to treat a specific group like children or pregnant mothers would be beneficial to the sustainability of the clinic?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Murchison Falls

The trip to Murchison Falls was one of the parts of the trip that I was looking forward to the most and it didn’t disappoint. We got the chance to go on two safaris and a boat ride up the Nile to see the falls during our time there. I really enjoyed seeing all the different animals the park had to offer. Some of the animals we saw were Lions, Gazelle, Crocodiles, Elephants, Hippopotamus, Water Buffalo, Giraffes, Monkeys and many more. Our driver was very knowledgeable about the animals at Murchison and would often stop the car and enlighten us about what we were seeing. I didn’t particularly like how whenever a lion was spotted every car would drive off road and surround the lions. Our tour guide during the boat trip had eagle eyes and was pointing out hidden crocodiles left and right. We couldn't get very close to the falls because of how strong the current was, but the views were well worth the trip. I also liked the fact that we got to sleep in tents, although it became a little scary when a hippo was feeding right outside my tent. The last thing we did before we left Murchison was drive up to the falls themselves. I really enjoyed the falls and learned that the park has been under protection for over 50 years, and has even changed names during this time. This was a great ending to the trip up to Murchison falls (Although the tsetse flies were bad), overall I was able to get some quality pictures and make some fantastic memories.

Murchison falls and tourism in general is important to sustainable development in Uganda because it contributes too many of the UN’s sustainable development goals, especially the ones related to life on water and on land. This is because many of Uganda’s tourist attraction deal with wildlife. The tourism sector also employs many Ugandans so it has a large effect on the goals of no poverty, no hunger and good jobs and economic growth.  

Questions for the group:
1. Do you think that the park is too big to be sustainable? Why or why not?
2. What was the coolest thing you witnessed during you time at the park?
3. What did you like or dislike about our trip to Murchison?
Health Care in Uganda

It has been pretty clear to see from all of our experiences in this trip that health care  in Uganda is very different from the United States. The Kikwanda Health Center is a trying to expand from a level 3 to a level 4 center. Currently they focus on vaccinating children for the 6 main killer diseases, treating malaria and typhoid, and simple testing including ultrasounds on Saturdays. Once the funds are raised the clinic plans to expand to include a maternity ward to provide more mother and child services. Pharmacies here do not have nearly as many hard drugs and we do in the United States, the pharmacists can prescribe medications, and do not have a medical data base to keep track of all patients and prescriptions. Finally the hospitals are very crowded, have minimal machinery, patient privacy is not a priority, and insurance is not common so it is common to have to pay large sums out of pocket to receive treatment. Although the United States may be more "advanced" in medicine then Uganda, the US system is very slow and tedious.

Is there something that the US can learn from the Ugandan health care system and vice versa?

Do you have any suggestions how Uganda can fix the problems within its public health care system such as making it less corrupt and developing more modern practices?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Media in Uganda

The media in Uganda seems to be very interesting. Much like the U.S. the main sources of media seem to be social media, TV, the radio, and the newspaper.  On the trip we were able to learn about media as a whole. Also we were able to learn about media through the viewpoints of somebody who works with radio, someone that is an investigation journalist, someone who is a feature journalist, and finally someone who worked in the TV industry. Each individual we talked to had a different opinion on media, and how it should work in Uganda. Something that I found very surprising was the role of government in media. For example the government owns the largest newspaper in Uganda, “New Vision”.  The government also has the power to shut down social media. This occurred twice this past year during the election.

Media is extremely crucial to the sustainable development of a country.  As described by one reporter media is crucial because it shows the people of the country its issues that it must improve upon.  I feel if the media continues to expose problems in Uganda it will only create more progression in the sustainable development goals. The UNDP also uses the media as a tool. The UNDP will use media as a form of communication to remind the people what the goals really are. Overall media in Uganda has the role of accurately reporting what is going on in the country and world.   


Do you feel that the government should have any role in the media? And if so how much?

What more can be done by media to further progress sustainable development in Uganda?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Microfinance- Reach Out

On Tuesday, our group visited an organization called Reach Out to learn about microfinance and to sit in on community microfinance groups. Reach Out was originally started to combat HIV/AIDS and provide support to patients, but in 2009 they started a microfinance operation to help the extremely poor save money. Microfinance is almost like a small bank, but for people who cannot provide collateral for a loan. These small groups, called VSLAs, are comprised of 15-30 people. The general purpose of these VSLAs is to help poor people, especially women, save money and be able to access small loans efficiently. It's important that the members within the group know each other, because the incentive to pay back the loan is social pressure. In essence, you don't want to be embarrassed in front of a group of your peers by not paying back the loan. I said before that the small group is like a bank; everybody contributes savings at weekly meetings, and loans (usually four week loans) are then given out within the group. The interest repaid on the loans is then distributed equally among group members at the end of a 12 month period.

We were fortunate enough to be able to sit in on two weekly meetings for local VSLAs. They showed us how a meeting operates, and all of the bookkeeping work they do. Reach Out has created over 300 of VSLAs similar to the ones we sat in on, and the groups have been extremely successful, with a default rate of only 3.4%!

Food for thought:

Why do you think social pressure is a good enough reinforcement for these systems to work?

What are some issues the developing economy of Uganda could run into if dependence on microfinance were to develop?