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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ugandan Pharmacy and TASO

As our trip is heading into its last full week, this morning found us all traveling to different places to pursue information on either our major or specific research topic. Three girls interested in education spent the morning at a daycare observing the similarities and differences between those in the United States, and the rest of us enjoyed yet another breakfast at MUBS. While the rest of the group awaited a presentation from The New Vision, Uganda’s government sponsored newspaper, the five pharmacy students on the trip, including myself, ventured to the Pharmacy Society of Uganda (PSU) to speak with the secretary of the organization about the practice of pharmacy here in Uganda.
The secretary was extremely informative and walked us through the education, areas of work, and problems facing pharmacists in Uganda today. Pharmacy is a rather new practice in Uganda. The Pharmacy and Drug Act of 1970 was the first law created to govern the profession. It established the PSU and brings together all of the pharmacists in the country. This act also establishes the National Drug Authority which regulates the distributing of pharmaceuticals in the country. A Bachelor of Pharmacy degree began being offered in three Ugandan universities in 1989 with the first class graduating in 1993. Prior to this, people had to travel to other countries to get their degrees and then return to Uganda to practice pharmacy. This led to a huge shortage of pharmacists in the country since they are needed in many fields including community (where 95% work), hospital, industry, and research. Currently there are only 319 pharmacists in the entire country. This is not nearly enough to meet the demands of the population of nearly 3.3 million. Although all pharmacies are required to be owned or employ a pharmacist, many times they operate without a pharmacist present. This leads to poor quality of care for the patients as well as compromised services. However, with the number of people interested in pharmacy due to its high social status and pay this problem is expected to greatly improve in the future.
Currently the pharmacy industry in Uganda is dominated by businessmen rather than pharmacists themselves. The businessmen are in charge of importing the drugs from foreign manufacturers, and there are no regulations in place that ensure the drugs entering the country are manufactured correctly. In fact, due to the recent HIV epidemic, latex gloves and condoms are the only products that are tested for quality before entering the country. This leads to a huge problem with counterfeit drugs being sold in pharmacies, many times without the knowledge of the pharmacists. The NDA has a lot of work to do to ensure that regulations are enforced regarding the importing of drugs. Another problem with the Ugandan pharmacy industry is the fact that prescription medications are dispensed without a written prescription from a doctor. I was shocked to hear this with all of the strict regulations in place in the United States for getting a prescription. This has lead to a large amount of antibiotic resistance as well as drug abuse in the country. Although laws do exist to regulate this, they are not enforced, and people buy pills whenever they are feeling even slightly sick because they don’t understand the proper way to take medications.
Despite the obvious problems that exist in the pharmacies of Uganda, I feel that they have great potential to advance within the coming years. They are aware of the most in-demand services and have started a HIV medication factory so that they will not have to import the ever important Anti-Retroviral Drugs. Also, every pharmacy always has some type of malaria treatment in stock as well as bed nets for sale. This shows that pharmacies are working to serve their population and will hopefully continue to advance forward in the future. All of the necessary laws and regulations regarding the filling of prescriptions do exist, so they just need to be enforced more strictly in order for change to take place. This will hopefully become easier as time goes on and more pharmacists enter the workforce. Quality pharmaceutical care will greatly aid the country on its path towards development. If citizens are able to access the proper medications and receive information on their illness, they will be healthier and able to work. Also, society will begin to gain a sense of trust in pharmacists, thus furthering their ability to act as a change agent to alter the current mindset of the entire population and focus efforts on prevention of disease rather than treatment.
Our day continued with lunch at MUBS and we then began the second half of our day which included a visit to TASO (The AIDS Support Organization). This organization was started in 1987 when the current government came into power. TASO works to improve the life of victims of HIV/AIDS by providing them with the services they will need to battle their relentless disease. Upon entering TASO, we were welcomed with a song from their drama group with is composed of clients of the organization. The goal of this group is to ensure people that even if your HIV test comes back positive, you can still do something positive, so they compose and perform songs based on their life experiences.
While at TASO, we spoke with both the public relations employee as well as two medical professionals. While we only visited the Mulago branch of TASO, organizations are located in various regions around Uganda. These centers provide medical care, psych-social counseling, and social support for those testing HIV positive. Donors fund about 95% of the facility which serves over 20,000 clients throughout the country. Funding only allows for 400 clients to receive ARV drugs (used to stop HIV replication and allow blood cells to multiply) out of over 3,000 clients, so only those with CD4 (white blood cells that make up the immune system) levels below 250 get put on the regimens. Those selected for free drugs are carefully chosen based on interviews and home visits to ensure that they will keep up with the medication and take their treatment seriously. This is extremely important in order for TASO to ensure that it is not wasting any of the valuable ARV drugs on people who do not even care about their treatment.
In addition to starting people on medication, TASO also sets up a specific counselor for each client that meets with them to discuss their possible steps to overcoming HIV/AIDS and encourage continued work despite the judgments that may be passed. After the client has returned to TASO for 2 months and has no complication with their medication, they are able to get check-ups in TASO centers in the community rather than coming back to the center. TASO’s ability to extend into communities throughout Uganda shows their extreme dedication to the support of those with HIV/AIDS. I feel that TASO is an excellent organization in Uganda. It provides those suffering from HIV/AIDS with a place they can go for help where they know that they will not be discriminated against. In addition to this, its free services allow treatment for people who may not have been able to finance it themselves. It is greatly helping the country’s development by promoting practices that will stop the transmission of HIV as well as treating those who have already contracted the disease, thus allowing them to live a longer, happier life than they would have without treatment.
The TASO presentation concluded with another song by the drama group. This piece included African drums and at the end of the song all of the members of the group came into the crowd and held our hands to illustrate the world uniting in its fight against HIV. We then did some shopping at booths set up by clients of TASO to raise money for their organizations and took a brief tour of the facility. The tour guide informed us that TASO Uganda offers scholarships to students to come to Uganda from other developing nations and learn about TASO in hopes of starting something like it in their country. This reinforces the fact that TASO is a great organization that touches the lives of thousands of Ugandans, giving them hope in this time of great hardship in their lives.
After leaving TASO, we exchanged some more money and set off to purchase Ugandan football jerseys. I was expecting a leisurely time at the mall that I usually experience when shopping in America, but after all of the shopping we have done here so far I should have known better. It took us all about an hour to finally select the jerseys and correct size as well as barter with the store owner for a good deal. In the end, most of us ended up with jerseys whether they were the right size or not and are very excited to wear them to the football game later this week. The day concluded with a dinner at an Indian/ American restaurant and we then returned back to Red Chili to pack for our exciting three day journey to Murchison Falls which we will embark on tomorrow!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Buganda Parliament: Tradition, Culture and History

This afternoon we went and visited the Buganda Paliament where we got to learn about much of the tradition, culture and history of the biggest kingdom in Uganda. Today the Buganda Kingdom makes up about 25% of the country, and has an approximate population of 7.5 million people. The Buganda Parliament does not have any real power, but they have a large amount of influence over the Beganda people.

Uganda is filled with a rich heritage, and goes back over 800 years. When the British came to Africa in the in the 16th century they made Buganda a “protectorate” instead of a colony because of the sophisticated political and social structure that was in place. It is headed by the Kabaka, or king.

The system of governance is broken up into two different parts: civil and lineage sections. The lineage side is more cultural, and is broken down into clans. The most basic system is the household. Moving up it goes to sets of families that govern each other, to sub-sub clans, to sub clans, and then finally the clan heads. The kingdom is broken up into 54 clans, and every Beganda has their clan name as part of their name which is passed down through the father.
On the administrative side the kingdom is broken down into 18 counties. The most basic structure of a county is the village council, which would then report to the Miruka Council, which is a set of villages. From there they answer to a sub county council which then reports to a county council. From there both the 54 clan heads, and the 18 county councils answer to the Katikkiro, who is the prime minister, and his cabinet, who then answer to the Kabaka.

The kingdom of Buganda came up with many inventions that they are proud of, and led the British to believe that they were a sophisticated society. Such inventions include turning tree bark into a cloth, special treatments for animal furs, a rich music history, a unique style of housing to keep themselves cool, pottery, and metal work. They also have a long history of sport, including wrestling tournaments, and regatta canoes.

Some of the important ceremonies in the culture are the Okwanjula, and the Okwabya Olumbe. The Okwanjula is the introduction ceremony when a couple decides they are going to get married. This is where a woman of Buganda must introduce her fiancé to her family and members of the clan will bring gifts in celebration, almost like a coming out or engagement party. Another ritual or ceremony the Beganda celebrate is the Okwabya Olumbe, it is done a few months after a funeral and symbolizes the end of the grieving period. It is a ceremony to install the new heir of the family, which goes to the oldest male. They are often given a spear and a shield to show manhood.

There are also a few annual ceremonies of the Beganda. One is the coronation of the Kabaka, which is done on the 31st of July. This gives the king a chance to head out to another county and see the people. The birthday of the Kabaka is also a big holiday for the people, which the Kabaka will hold a large party of all of the ministers and clan heads of the kingdom. They also celebrate Bulongi Bwansi, which is a community outreach day where they all get together to make Buganda a better place. This is done on October 8th of every year.

In addition to this they also have the Ekitoobero festival which is a large musical festival for the people.

It has not always been peaceful times for the Buganda kingdom. During the reign of Idi Amin the king had to flee into exile, until they were invited back in 1993 by the NRM government. This was a large moral boost to the people, but the relationship between the Kabaka and the Government has been strained because of the people’s allegiance to the Kabaka.

Although the Kabaka does not have any real power, many of the Ugandan Parliament Members have pledged allegiance to him. They also have a radio station where they can express their views and have received much of their funding through renting out the Kabaka’s land for farming to the people, and through contributions from richer members that support the king.

After we got done learning about the history and the culture of the Buganda people, we received a tour of the parliament building. It was an old beautiful building which, in size, was bigger than the national parliament. We also tried to connect the Buganda Parliament to sustainability. The rich culture and heritage is something we don’t have in America, but tradition is something that is very sustainable. It gives the country unity, pride, and a sense of where they came from. On the other hand, if the Kabaka disagrees with the president, the people will be divided, and the culture will be one that is unsustainable. So as long as the Kabaka and the president can work together towards common goals, the rich Heritage of the Beganda will add towards the sustainable effort of the country.

The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative

This morning we went to the Foundation For Human Rights Initiative. Needless to say this was an interesting and enlightening visit and experience. Those who facilitated the lecture and discussion were knowledgeable, passionate, and willing to answer our questions to the best of their ability, which I thought they handled well. This was a change from our visit to parliament whose representative dodged our questions and giving us the runaround, mainly on issues regarding human rights.

In Uganda, as far as human rights are concerned, there is much to be desired. One of the major problems in that the military is at the back of everything in Uganda and is left largely unchecked by the people. But one of the biggest challenges to human rights is a lack of effective and sympathetic leadership. For a true democracy to exist the people need to feel that their leaders are elected fairly by the people without tricks or coercion. Throughout Uganda’s history as a nation leaders have come to power through military coups, rigged elections, or from the barrel of a gun. When the NRM came to power in the mid 80’s, they talked a lot about human rights having just overthrown an aggressive and abusive dictator and created a rather progressive constitution as a result, creating such institutions as the Inspector General of Government’s Offices and the FHRI. According to Livingstone Sewanyana, the executive director for the FHRI, these progressive actions have largely been done in theory, rather than practice and are not as effective as they should be.  One of the reasons for this is the drain of national resources by high public expenditures. Rather than passing legislation that provides people with more rights, the Ugandan government is quick to implement restrictive legislation such as the anti-terrorist and the deeply contested Anti-Gay bill.

Some of the main issues that the FHRI deal with are the general right to healthcare such as access, quality, and affordability. They also deal with labor rights working to establish a minimum wage. Most workers do not make enough to live off of and support a family. The FHRI works towards establishing women’s rights, advocating against domestic abuse and female genital mutilation. One of the issues that they deal with which caught my attention was juvenile rights. The problem with this is that children are incredibly vulnerable. One of these violations of their rights is that children are being kidnapped and taken to a witch doctor for sacrificial reasons. The purpose of these sacrifices is for superstitious reasons as the witch doctor claims that by sacrificing a baby and placing its skull under a newly built house he can make the recipient rich.

FHRI also advocates for an improvement of prison conditions and justice for the accused. In Uganda the accused are guilty until they prove their own innocence. The prisons are extremely overcrowded and 65% of all inmates have not gone to trial. The poor are the greatest victims of this system, as they cannot afford representation, and therefore are at the unsympathetic mercy of those who seek to imprison them. And of course the FHRI deals with the rights of homosexuals who are in jeopardy right now mainly due to the Anti-homosexual bill which seeks to imprison and execute those who are accused and convicted for being homosexuals.

Some of the avenues that the FHRI uses to advocate are providing legal representation for persons accused. They monitor human rights and submit periodic reports regarding violations. They launch these reports publicly and use them as tools for lobbying government to protect the rights of its citizens. They study bills and submit their views about the bills in an effort to influence the outcomes and decrease or eradicate the potential for loss of human rights. If legislation does get passed that is restrictive they go to court to fight the bill and deem it unconstitutional. Another way they advocate especially in regards to restrictive bills such as the Anti-Gay bill which is largely accepted by the Ugandan population is by advocating against its provisions such as the death penalty which the population seems to be against. In my opinion one of the most effective forms of advocacy is through education. Educating the population that all persons, regardless of who they are or the lifestyle they chose to live have basic human rights, including the right to privacy and the right to life, and that people need to learn how to co-exist.

The abandonment of human rights is not sustainable. When people are threatened either by the loss of privacy, the threat of imprisonment for being who they are, or the absence of a minimum wage adequate enough to support a family they do not perform to the best of their abilities they are in a constant state of fear and vulnerability in which a nation cannot be sustained or advance. In fact in this state the opposite happens as it begins to regress into tired old practices that leave much to be desired as sustainability and human rights go hand in hand. The beauty of the FHRI is that they give a voice to the voiceless and a face to the faceless. They fight to insure against a majoritocracy, as Tommy Sands the Northern Ireland musician calls it, in which the majority tramples the rights of the voiceless minorities of a society. They are important and the only outlet that the minorities have for fare treatment and justice. In Sewanyana’s words “We have a dream, that one day Uganda will be free”.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

SURE Prospects Institute & MUBS Chairman country home

This morning started like most others; we headed to breakfast at MUBS. This morning’s breakfast was pretty typical with the exception of a new item added to the menu: Ugandan doughnuts. They looked like the doughnuts in the US and were most similar to cake doughnuts, however they are not very sweet.

We experienced a lot of hurrying up and then waiting throughout the morning. After plans were more solidified, we decided to grab some snacks at Capital Shoppers Supermarket for a light lunch later in the day.

On the way to visit SURE Prospects Institute, there was a lot of conversing between the Drake and MUBS students about what the Drake students had experienced on our rural visit yesterday. We also sang the songs that the children performed for us at the village the previous day.

When we arrived at SURE Prospects Institute, Francis, the principal, owner and founder, gave us an introduction. He explained that SURE is an inclusive school with three sections: nursery, pre-primary & primary, and special needs. Francis started the school in 2002 after he competed university. The actual idea was conceived in 1998 while attending university, when he was the chairperson of the Students with Disabilities campus organization. He decided to focus on youth and children with disabilities. Upon graduation, Francis spent time on the land where the school was going to be and pondered his idea. He also went out into the community and asked what others thought of the idea. He wanted to get the community’s view of disabled persons. In Uganda, people don’t care for the disabled. They don’t even refer to them with “politically correct” titles such as blind or deaf in their language—they simply refer to them as stupid. Numerous of the disabled are disowned and become beggars on the streets. Many of the people in the community thought he was going to get them in trouble with the law for abandoning and mistreating their disabled children, so he had to work very hard to convince them that he only wanted to help.

Francis had a desire to help disabled people become educated, productive members of society rather then becoming beggars on the streets. This makes this institution sustainable as well as the economy.

When the school started, children were taught skills to go straight into the work force. They were trained to use sewing machines and computers. The costs of education, especially those who are disabled, is very high. Nearly 90 percent of disabled children born in Uganda are born into poor families. To compensate for the high cost of education and the little money that the disabled parents and guardians had, SURE became an inclusive institution. This meant that disabled and abled persons were educated. The ratio started out as 10 abled children to 1 disabled child. That ratio is now down to 3:1. The 10, now three, fees of the abled children would help to cover the costs for the disabled child. This means that the disabled children could go to school for free. Nearly all the subjects covered in the school you attended are taught at SURE Prospects Institute. There are currently 302 students at the school. Nearly all classes are a mix of abeled and disabled children.

Many people in Uganda have the conviction that disabilities are contagious. This was another barrier that Francis had to work through. Now, SURE is known as one of the best schools in the area. He really had to show others what they were doing at SURE Prospects Institute. They have a strong emphasis on education so that these children can become productive members of society. It is engrained in these children’s brains that even though their arms or legs or eyes don’t work, their brains do. Francis and the other 24 teaches have to show the children, their parents, and the community the potential the potential these children have. Some of the teachers are also disabled.

Francis has also tried to show businesses the advantages of employing disabled people. One of the advantages is that they are SUPPOSED to get a tax break.

The people that have gone through this school have been successful in the workplace. There have been six children that have graduated from SURE. One of the six is even attending university.

One of the other challenges that Francis faces on a daily basis is being patient. Teachers at SURE have to learn about the children and be creative. Something that Francis taught me was that learning disabilities are difficult, but not complex. At SURE instead of calling the intellectually challenged “slow learners,” they call them “time takers.” This is very true; if you are patient with these children, they are often very accurate in their work.

This school is very sustainable and very beneficial for Uganda. Francis has a passion for what he does. He is educating the disabled to become useful members of society rather than becoming beggars on the streets. He cares for these children as they were his own.

After the presentation, we gave Francis a small gift, as well as some gifts for the children. Deb also presented Francis with a gift from her mother, whose name is also Francis. Then we had some time to walk around the school on a short tour, as well as spend some time with the kids. We gave them some “sweeties,” talked with them, and some even played football (what we know in the US as soccer) with them. Many of the disabled children seemed to have a buddy that helped them. There were two boys, one of them blind, and the other boy led him around all morning making sure he was not left out. They were all very cute and touched our hearts.

Next we went to a park on the shore of Lake Victoria for a light lunch. It was so beautiful out! It was nice to put our feet in the sand and take a few pictures.

After we were finished with lunch, we headed to the Chairman of the MUBS Board of Trustees country home. We had to take a smaller bus up to his house because the road is so rough and narrow. As we were driving up, everyone in the cramped bus was being thrown from side to side. At one point, many of us had to get off the bus so that it could make it over the roughest part. Many of us just walked the additional 200 meters up the hill to the house. It had a gorgeous view of Lake Victoria. We just spent some time out in the yard talking and enjoying drinks. We also went up on the balcony of the house and took some pictures. What a breathtaking view of Lake Victoria and the countryside of Kampala.

We had a wonderful dinner and spent some time chatting and playing cards. After awhile, The Chairman gave a short speech. He talked about sustainability differences between Uganda and the US. With the one-acre of land that the Chairman’s house is on, they try to grow everything they need to survive. The goal of the Chairman, as well as many other Ugandans, is to be able to survive on their own land, without going into town to buy anything for a month. This kind of life style is sustainable. If you take care of your crops, you can survive on all the food you grow.

The night was wrapped up by saying that we as students and ambassadors had to decide the value of this experience. We have to take advantage of the opportunity we have with our time left in Uganda.

Finally, as we were getting ready to leave, all the students took part in African children’s games, the equivalent of our “Duck, Duck, Goose” in the US. It was such a fun way to end another wonderful day in Uganda.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Rural Visit

Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda, so today was a very important experience for our group. We had a 6:45 bright and early wakeup call (sharp, not leisurely Uganda time) and piled onto the bus with about ten bags of clothes for the village children, not to mention an endless supply of candy for the kids. We also came bearing gifts for the host family women of cooking utensils and multipurpose knives for the men. We ate an energizing breakfast at MUBS and then were on the road for our hour and a half adventure to the rural visit.

We were promptly greeted by Professor Senteza’s father, James, whom we were to call Dad or Tata as a sign of respect. Rural areas have a more traditional way of life including the use of more formal greetings than in urban settings. We were very thankful because James planned most of the day for us. On the way to our destination farm, we spotted papaya trees, sweet potato plants, and a variety of other crops. We also found a chameleon running around and were quite fascinated by it.

Once we arrived we were introduced to the owner of the 10 acre farm, Robert; John, his brother who received us for lunch and discussion at his house; Abraham, their elder; and Henry, an expert in farming methods and a representative for NAAD, National Agricultural Advisory Services. NAAD is a farmer based program sponsored by the government and ranges from the central county to the smaller sub counties. There are farmer forums and each village has members in them. The organization looks for farmers’ input and helps provide seeds for crops such as maize and beans and funds for expensive pesticides and herbicides.

We split up into two big groups and were lead on a tour of the farm and informed about the farming practices. Fruit trees such as mangos are grown on the edges of the property in order to mark the borderlines. Ditches are dug amongst the street to catch water and pool it into connecting canals throughout the land. This is a form or irrigation canals that’s purpose is the keep the soil fertile and the land from not flooding from the vast amount of rain they get. It is a great way to conserve the water throughout the soil when it rains about once out of every three days.

Agro-forestry is the main technique we heard about throughout the tour. These are the systems that allow the soil to remain rich with nutrients and allow Ugandan farmers to have successful harvests. An example is that coffee is inter-planted within banana trees so that the nutrients are spread. Mulch is made out of dried grasses and leaves and used to prevent weeds as well as hold nutrients and water. Herbicides are also used to control weeds, such as Round Up and Weedmaster. Only about 25% of farmers use these products though because they are so expensive. The farmers use the technique of crop grafting especially for coffee and banana trees, where they cut a young branch of the tree off and replant it in a new area of land calling it a “clone coffee” tree. This technique is very sustainable for the farmers because it allows them to use the crops they already produce to further expand their farm and continue growing crops without needing new seeds for plants.

The main crops for Ugandan farmers are coffee and cocoa, which are cash crops, and bananas, which are a food crop for eating and selling locally. The process of selling coffee as a cash crop is harvesting the seeds from the tree in November-January, drying them for ten days, a county buyer purchases them and transports them to a mill where they are graded, they are taken to an exporter and graded again, and then they are exported. Uganda exports about 90% of all of the coffee beans that it produces. The main type of coffee grown is Robusta coffee, because the old types were killed by a fungus twig borer. From plant to flower, the growth takes about 18 months. The farmers manually prune the coffee trees to make sure that only four branches grow, which helps spread the nutrients and create better and bigger beans. Bananas are also a very special crop to Bugandans, and they mostly grown a “dessert banana.” Banana trees were similarly struck with a wilting disease causing premature ripening and oozing of bananas due to cutting them off trees with an unsanitary knife. There are now much better sanitization practices, and the crop takes about nine months to grow.

Some other crops grown were Tenjera Tomatoes, which are a bacteria resistant strain. Plenty of yams were growing in big mounds within the plot. We saw some ground nut (similar to a peanut and used to make the delicious groundnut sauce for matooke) plants deep within the ground. There were also many green beans planted about 1’ x 2’ apart. The maize is also planted quite far apart, about 3’ x 3’. This allows the crops to produce a better yield with bigger cobs and taller plants than we have in Iowa. The Ugandan farmers focus more on quality instead of quantity like the US when it comes to produce. Maize is grown in a swamp-like, wet environment and takes about three months to grow.

Ugandan farmers have many techniques in place that promote sustainable development. They are very big on crop rotation, for example planting cabbage next where tomatoes currently reside and maize after that. The different crops use different nutrients within the soil. Cabbage, for example, is grown in continuous production, so that planting and harvesting different sections happens at the same time. This prevents all produce from being sold at one time only. Robert is also renting out about five acres of his land per season, about six months. This allows new farmers to get off their feet and turn to him for guidance. They are very behind when it comes to machinery though, and they actually do all of the work by hand between only three men and four women on the entire plot.

After the tour of the farm, we were provided fresh Jackfruit for the first time and it was a huge hit! It was sweet and tasted very similarly to Juicy Fruit gum. It definitely lived up to our high expectations that the MUBS students had built up. We also feasted on some fresh mangos and bananas all home grown. We then travelled to the town of Kasawo to John’s house for refreshments, including more mango and juicy pineapple.

Next, we began our service project which was painting the inside and outside of the town hall building in the village. The building hosts special occasions such as birthing classes for expecting women, NAAD meetings, seminars, workshops, and political rallies. We were greeted with a huge applause because everyone was so glad that we were there and able to help them. There was even a representative sent from the Bugandan King to thank us for our hard work. We had a lot of fun getting messy and working together to really make an impact on an entire village. One of the students said that this was the first time they felt like they finally made a difference on people’s lives.

We travelled back to John’s house for our homemade lunch. Our entertainment was provided by some of his children and their friends making up an eight child choir that sang a welcoming song and two other cute songs with choreography and all. They introduced their names within the song and also said repeatedly that they “would never forget us.” We returned by singing two traditional American songs: a song about freedom by our very own musically inclined Patrick as well as a group sing-along of “This Land is Your Land.” Our lunch was absolutely delectable and had some of the best matooke we had ever eaten! We were so grateful for our host’s incredible hospitality and for feeding as large of a group as ours.

Our post lunch group discussion featured a wide variety of comments and questions about the farming techniques we had just seen and heard about. Everyone was very impressed by the large diversity of crops as well as the ingenious irrigation system. Some of the farmers’ future plans are to expand their land. While farmers in America have been continuously increasing the size of their plots throughout time, due to the large number of children or decedents, the Ugandan farmers’ plots have been decreasing each generation. Robert would also like to expand his animal raising capabilities and have more goats, cows, and pigs. Most of the farming techniques used in the past still remain the same today, but the aspect that has changed is the type of crop due to disease outbreaks.

A difficulty for Ugandan farmers is the climate because of the lengthy dry seasons that are the worst in January and February and also are during June, July, August, and December. The wet seasons are when it is easiest to sell their crops but also when the prices for them are the lowest since there is such a high supply of them. Although the food prices have been increasing recently, the farmers have not seen any benefit from the raise. They do not really have a say in the prices of their products because they are forced to use a private country buyers who also desire to make a profit. The price of gas also equals out to about $9 a gallon, so the cost of transporting their goods to Kampala is quite pricey.

It would be a much more sustainable market if the farmers had a way to dry and store grains and instead be able to sell them during dry season and charge higher prices. Right now the methods are too expensive and most of the time the country buyers will store it instead. Another problem with the huge agriculture industry is that there are not enough youth that want to get into the agriculture business. Too many young people migrate to cities and leave the rural areas as soon as they can, even though the agriculture industry is the biggest in Uganda and the most important.

After the discussion was concluded, we were given free time to wander about the village in small groups and explore what rural living is really like. We were very quickly swarmed by children shouting “Muzungu” with extended arms awaiting our candy we brought for them. The kids quickly caught on that we all had candy and began to follow us in large packs around the village streets. They were absolutely adorable wanting to hold our hands and giving us endless high fives when we asked for them.

Professor Bishop, my fellow pharmacy majors, and I explored a local health clinic during this time to witness some of the differences in health care we have all been hearing about and studying. It was very small quarters and actually had a few chickens running around inside. The clinic was only run by nurses and a midwife, which is quite common in rural areas instead of the traditional doctor and pharmacist employment. There was an examination room, a birthing room, and a few other small rooms for the sick. Most children do not get the sick main vaccines (Polio, Measles, Tetanus, Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, and Pertussis), which are all available for free at government hospitals and are an incredibly easy way to prevent diseases. If rural people had been access to drugs and vaccines then it would be more sustainable because the youth would be healthier and able to live longer.

After hour bus ride back to the lovely city of Kampala on the way to Red Chilli, we voted that for dinner tonight we would have Italian food. We went to a lovely restaurant very close to Red Chilli that had so many trees within the restaurant it felt like a jungle. We were in a bit of a scare when all of the power went off in the restaurant for a few minutes, but everything was resolved and the show went on. Everyone ate some sort of a pasta dish or pizza and followed it up with scrumptious gelato for dessert. It was the perfect end to a wonderful day.

Friday, May 27, 2011

MUBS Graduation & Entrepreneurship in Uganda

Our early morning began in a scurry to finish our samosas, hard-boiled eggs, and warm milk tea. Coaxed by our elegantly dressed professors, we made our way to Makerere University Business School’s 6th graduation ceremony. The ceremony began promptly at 10am “Ugandan time,” although all of the Drake students noted it started almost an hour behind schedule. Drake University was personally recognized and welcomed at the beginning of the ceremony by the Master of Ceremony and by the Chancellor. We again saw the hospitality and sincere welcome we received when we visited the Secondary School. The graduation procession was lead by the MUBS choir, dancers, drummer, Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, faculty, and our very own Drake professors.

In total, 1078 students graduated today, including 32 from Luzira prison. Among those graduating, 579 were female, and 499 were male. This ratio says something about the minimization of the gender bias and inequality women faced not too long ago. MUBS has over 20 undergraduate programs, 10 masters programs, and doctoral programs. MUBS is in the lead in business and management education and in its quality of students, programs, and other activities. The staff, students, and facilities have had substantial growth since its start in 1997, and MUBS has plans to maintain the quality of education they currently provide long into the future.

I thought it was interesting that at the graduation ceremony they did not announce the names of the graduates as diplomas were presented. Other differences I noted, as compared to Drake specifically, was that prayer was incorporated, there was no student speaker, and students do not officially graduate for at least 6 months after their last semester.

In the afternoon, we raced the rainy, Iowa-resembling weather to the Movit Manufacturing plant just outside of Kampala. There, we learned about the history of the company, the mission, vision, and different marketing and advertising strategies used. Movit Products Ltd. began work in 1999 selling cosmetic products, and has become the number one ranked business in the cosmetic industry in Uganda in just 10 years. Movit sells 57 different hair and body products for men, women, and babies. The company sells to individual customers as well as businesses in both the rural and urban areas. Movit’s original vision was to become the leading cosmetic manufacturer in the Great Lakes Region. This goal must now be updated because Movit has already dominated the market share in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Sudan, and the Congo.

A majority of the conversation today, led by the director for marketing and sales, Bruce Mpamizo, was on the disparate marketing strategies used. Movit uses an integrated marketing mix approach, which is a combination of many different marketing styles that change depending on the target group. Many Ugandans in rural areas do not have internet or television, so they rely on other promotional tools, such as visiting schools and churches to get the message out. Bruce Mpamizo coupled what Patrick Bitature said last week in that to be a successful entrepreneur you must have integrity, honesty, a hard work ethic, and the willingness to take risks.

Education and entrepreneurship are arguably the two most important facets to a thriving and sustaining economic environment, and are closely interlinked. A proper education, especially from MUBS, allows students to identify an opportunity and act quickly, making successful entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs create jobs, pass down knowledge to future generations, and demonstrate the value of social responsibility. Although as many speakers we have heard made clear, it is not just about academic work, but about learning to be a good citizen. These values have been instilled in the graduating MUBS students, and we wish them the best of luck in their future aspirations. Uganda has been taking the right steps in ensuring a sustainable future by attempting to make school more affordable and more practical option for kids and families. As said in the previous blogs, with education, students are able to sustain themselves in the future as well as educate their future children.

Now it is time to put on our Movit cosmetic products and have a good night!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Preventing, Investigating, and Prosecuting Corruption

Today started like many of the other mornings on this trip with breakfast at the Markerere University Business School (MUBS) canteen with our Ugandan colleagues. After finishing breakfast, the class moved from the MUBS canteen to a building on campus for our second formal class discussion session while in Uganda. The discussion was led by Professors Glenn McKnight, Deb Bishop, and Jimmy Senteza from Drake University. These class discussions give the students from both Drake University and MUBS the opportunity to reflect and analyze our class experiences.

As a class, we discussed our experiences from the NARO Entebbe Botanical Gardens, Equator Shops, City Secondary School, and the Ugandan Securities Exchange. Professor McKnight helped to direct the discussion towards how these different experiences relate to sustainable development. At first visits to sites like the Botanical Gardens and the Equator shops may seem unrelated to sustainable development, but our discussion connected these two sites to the larger tourism industry in Uganda. Since tourism is such a significant sector of the Ugandan economy, these sites, and other tourist destinations, are important parts of the path towards a sustainable economy in Uganda.

A large part of this morning’s discussion was devoted to our experiences from our visit to City Secondary School. Since we spent a full day at this visit, we had a lot of information to cover in our discussion. The students from Drake and MUBS used this time to discuss the differences between the American education system and the Ugandan education system. Most of these differences are related to the disparity in educational resources (textbooks, facilities, teachers, etc.) available in each country. We also briefly discussed the practices of dating and relationships in both countries.

Finally, the discussion ended with a brief overview of the Ugandan Securities Exchange. The Ugandan Securities Exchange contributes to sustainable development by helping businesses raise capital. The professors left time after our discussion to allow the MUBS students to give the students from Drake a tour of the MUBS campus.

On my tour of the MUBS campus, I saw the library, the administration building, many lecture halls, and the women’s dormitory. The current library is cramped and overcrowded with stacks of books extending almost to the ceiling, but a new library building is under construction on the campus. The new library building will be massive. It is four stories tall with a huge dome roof. When this building opens, it will house the library, the reading room, and information technology services including computer labs.

The women’s dormitory was striking in its similarity to the student housing at Drake University. In the women’s dorm, four women share a room with two bunk beds, two closets, and two small desks. While the rooms in the women’s dormitory were slightly smaller than the rooms for first year students at Drake University, they would still be immediately recognizable to American university students — right down to the pictures of friends, families, and celebrities posted on the wall next to the beds.

We returned to the MUBS canteen to eat lunch before heading to downtown Kampala to visit the Inspectorate General of Government. The current Acting Inspector General of Government for Uganda, Mr. Raphael Baku, was out of the country and unable to meet with our group, so we met with Mr. Muzamil Abon, Director of Regional Offices and Follow Up for the Inspectorate of Government (IG).

Mr. Abon gave the class a 30 minute overview of the work that the IG does to combat corruption in Uganda. The IG was established by the NRM government in 1988 with a mandate to “eliminate corruption, promote and foster the rule of law and principles of natural justice in public offices and enforce the Leadership Code of Conduct.” Ultimately, the IG is charged with preventing, investigating, and prosecuting allegations of corruption at all levels of the Ugandan government.

In order to fulfill this mandate, the IG is given unique powers within the government. The IG has the power to investigate corruption, arrest suspects of corruption, prosecute corruption cases, issue orders (e.g. stop work on a project that has been affected by corruption), access and search any property (including safety deposit boxes), seizure of property, freeze bank accounts, and clarify the declarations of assets made by Members of Parliament and other government officials. The IG strives to maintain impartiality, so the agency is the only self-accounting body in the Ugandan government. This allows the IG to protect its budget from Members of Parliament who may attempt to seek revenge against the agency.

The IG’s attempts to end corruption in the Ugandan government are hindered by many challenges. The chief challenge facing the IG is an inadequate capacity to fight corruption. The IG lacks the human resources needed to investigate corruption; the number of people fighting corruption pales in comparison to the number of people engaged in corruption. Because the IG lacks sufficient human resources, their ability to investigate cases of corruption is limited.

The IG also needs better training for its personnel. With rapidly changing technology and a high burden of proof in the Ugandan court system, the current personnel at the IG are struggling to keep up. If the IG’s current employees are to remain effective, they must receive continual training.

Finally, the IG lacks the necessary technological resources to conduct modern investigative work. Mr. Abon explained that it is typically necessary to catch a public official in the act in order to prosecute a corruption case, but the IG currently lacks the technology to record these acts. While modern police forces around the world will record investigations with small, discrete recording devices, the IG is forced to use old tape recorders that are difficult to conceal from the people they are investigating.

(It is worth noting that President Museveni announced a $10.4 million dollar effort to increase the IG’s capacity for fighting corruption, but a high level of corruption persists. For more information, see The Daily Monitor.)

Corruption is a direct obstacle to sustainable development in an economy. Emerging economies rely on quality infrastructure to attract investment and business development, but corruption contributes towards failing and insufficient infrastructure. Mr. Abon explained that in Uganda corruption results in poorly constructed public houses, roads, and bridges. In some cases, corruption contributed to schools being constructed improperly which resulted in at least two cases of roofs collapsing on people.

Mr. Abon described two main causes of corruption in Uganda. The traditional cause of corruption was low salaries. Public employees who were struggling to provide for their families looked to corruption as a source of additional income. In an attempt to eliminate this cause of corruption, the government increased workers’ salaries, yet corruption continued. The new cause of corruption, Mr. Abon explained, is greed. Workers are paid well, but corruption persists because government officials want big houses and expensive clothes. Corruption is now used to support the lavish lifestyles of some government officials.

Many Drake students were surprised to find out that it is illegal to investigate a sitting President in Uganda. As children we grew up in the age of Monica Lewinsky and televised political scandals, so to hear that it is illegal to investigate a President seems insensible. Clearly leaders can falter, but in Uganda, the President is immune from the IG’s investigations.

While the IG has worked hard to reduce the amount of corruption in the Ugandan government, corruption is still widespread. According to information provided by the IG, over 80% of the Ugandan people viewed the Ugandan National Police Force as corrupt. And just this week, the IG arrested a Member of Parliament suspected of embezzling 20 million Ugandan Schillings.

“Corruption is an evil we can combat successfully,” Abon said. “We cannot afford to lose this fight. If we do, our country loses.” While corruption is still prevalent in Uganda, neighboring countries suggest that efforts to eliminate corruption can be successful. Rwanda recently reduced corruption and increased its rating from Transparency International, a nonprofit organization fighting against corruption around the world. Eliminating corruption is a necessary step towards sustainable development in Uganda, and the IG must be given the necessary resources to continue its fight against corruption.

After our visit to the IG, we stopped at a market near the Ugandan National Theater. We browsed through the shops, and some of us purchased gifts, clothing, and other handmade products.

Tonight we had dinner at Mexican restaurant which was an entirely new experience for our colleagues from MUBS. Throughout this trip, Drake students have been exposed to new Ugandan foods, but tonight, it was the students from MUBS who were given a new cultural experience. The MUBS students tried chips (known as biscuits in Uganda) and salsa, enchiladas, fajitas, chimichangas, and tacos. The MUBS students had mixed reviews of the Mexican food, but at least a few were ready to return to traditional Matoke after the meal.

Learning about corruption in the Ugandan government is an important part of understanding the process of facilitating sustainable development in the country. Until corruption is eliminated, efforts for sustainable development will be hindered. International aid will be embezzled, money for infrastructure improvements will be misspent, and businesspeople and consumers will continue to accept bribes as a way of doing business.

As Mr. Abon explained, if the corrupt win, Uganda loses.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 6: Visits to Monitor Publications and the pool

Slums, food, marketplaces. We have instantly recognized many of the sights in Uganda as very different from those we see on a day-to-day basis in the U.S. But our visit this morning to the headquarters of Monitor Publications Ltd. in Kampala included a lot of scenes similar to newsrooms back home. This may seem surprising because in contrast to the United States, the Ugandan media faces a lot of government intervention and interference. But as we made our way upstairs to the conference room where our meeting took place, the view looked very much like that of walking through the Des Moines Register newsroom.

People were talking on phones and taking notes as we moved past. Computer monitors around the room displayed Facebook newsfeeds and the websites of other news organizations, such as BBC and The New York Times. There were HPs, Dells and the graphic designers were all working on pages using Macs and Adobe InDesign software. However, we also learned more about the significant differences between the Ugandan media and the environment in which The Monitor operates, and that of the U.S.

The Monitor newspaper is an independent publication and the majority shareholder is the Africa-based Nation Media Group. In contrast to its main competitor and mostly government-run newspaper The New Vision, The Monitor is known for its reporters’ investigative journalism work and for publishing things as they really are, as opposed to how the government would like to present them. We heard from Monitor news editor Alex Atuhaire and weekend edition managing editor Fredrick Masiga about when they receive calls and letters from government officials demanding that certain photographs be removed from the website or that a particular article is not published. But they print it anyway.

“Independence is one of our core values,” Atuhaire told us, adding that he keeps the Monitor’s editorial policy book on his desk at all times.

During the current “Walk to Work” protests Ugandans are conducting to voice disapproval of raising food and gas prices, The Monitor has not been shy in publishing photographs of the riots and reporting on leader of the opposition Kizza Besigye’s arrests, Masiga told us. He said some Monitor reporters had been denied access by the men guarding Besigye’s house and had their equipment stolen. He and Atuhaire also mentioned the government has tried several times to persecute The Monitor in the Constitutional Court for some of the work it has published because the Ugandan Constitution assures freedom of speech and of the press. For this reason, Masiga said, the Court has always ruled in favor of the media.

“We always find a way of winning our cases because we do everything within the law,” Masiga said. “People should be able to express themselves across the board, whether online or whatever.”

The Monitor’s market is also small in comparison to American papers and its circulation is based mostly on street sales rather than subscriptions. Atuhaire estimated that 25,000 to 35,000 copies are distributed each day, making the paper the second most read in the nation behind The New Vision.

Atuhaire and Masiga demonstrated a real passion for truth seeking and investigative reporting as they talked with us and described what they saw as the responsibilities of The Monitor and its staff. This discussion tied in well with our course theme of sustainable development. A society must have stable government the people trust to thrive, and its assets must be used in reasonable and effective ways. Even with a government that gives them only “relative freedom,” the paper sees it as its duty to ensure government resources are allocated and used according to agreed proceedings, Masiga and Atuhaire said. Reporters and editors work to make certain that’s what is happening by exposing any corruption and giving people in the knowledge they need to fight it.

A sustainable society includes a mechanism that serves as a check on the government and elected officials and allows people access to reliable information about their community and its people. The Monitor representatives we met with today certainly illustrated dedication to those goals.

But people also like to be entertained, right? After talking to Masiga and Atuhaire, we were shown another one of Monitor Publications’ mediums, KFM Radio. A guide took us through the recording studios and explained that the station played “a little bit of everything” in terms of music. The DJs also read news bulletins regularly, but she said the stories are not necessarily those found in the pages of the newspaper because the radio has a different editorial board. She also commented on the timeliness of the news shared on the radio, a medium that is extremely popular with Ugandans. While the newspaper staff might have hours to work out the details of a story, she said, the radio relays much more instantly relevant information.

On our way out, we also stopped to examine the printing press. Many of us took photos and videos as the huge machines roared and dozens of printed Monitor sections rushed past us on the conveyor belt.

After a busy morning, we headed to Ridar Hotel for an afternoon of fun. We spent the hours after lunch at the mid-sized resort on the outskirts of the city laying in the sun by the pool and using the hotel gym. It became clear how close we’re beginning to get to our new friends from Makerere University Business School when we realized how happy we were they were able to join us. The relationships we’re developing with them are one of the most valuable parts of the trip so far.

The pool area at Ridar Hotel was fairly congested for a while when a large group of local school children joined us. Dozens of them ran around the deck laughing, screaming and splashing. They definitely added some amusement to our day as we watched them have fun and receive swimming instructions from a couple of their teachers. After they left, Evelyn (who is a lifeguard back in the States) even taught a few of our MUBS friends a bit about getting around in the water. Hopefully, her impromptu swimming lessons and back float tutorials paid off.

We’ve also been receiving some instruction from them as they teach the Drake students Luganda, the local language. Even though they giggle at our horrendous pronunciation errors, they’ve been helping us learn basic phrases and fun words.

We made use of one of these tonight as we left the bus to go to bed back at the hostel: Sula bulunge! (Good night!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 5 – markets, and fire trucks, and artifacts OH MY!

The day started on a bright note with everyone being able to sleep in until 9:30, what a treat. The first activity of the day was a personal choice between a fire department, museum and the Uganda Stock Exchange. When we split up I traveled to the local Kampala fire department with Nate.

At the fire department we met with the Inspector General and Assistant Inspector of the department, Mr. Egwedu and Mr. Munguacel. In Uganda their department is part of the police force. They firefighters must first go through 9 months of police training and then an additional 3 months of firefighter training. This is very different from the U. S. where our firefighters are not part of the police. Sense they are apart of the police they have the same power to enforce laws, but mainly they will only testify in court. In addition to having firefighters on the grounds there were also armed police officers and officers in riot gear.

To tell the fire department about a fire citizens must call 999, but many are unaware of this number. When calling this number people first connected to the local police department, and then must be transferred to the fire department. This process can be time consuming, and when they are contacted it can be hard to locate where the fire is because not all the streets have names, and most buildings are not numbered. To try and accommodate for these problems the department has many maps of the city showing unmarked streets, and also the locations of the fire hydrants. They have maps of the fire hydrants because they are underground and in certain areas be hard to find, if t he area even has one.

Once the fire department is informed of the fire they then start their process of getting ready to leave fore the fire. This is very different from the U. S. where most fire departments where they try to arrive at a fire with they try to reach 80% of the fires within 8 minutes. In Uganda they don’t have a standard time that they try and reach the fires. They didn’t mention a reason as to why they do not have their uniforms laid out like they do in the U.S., but to my knowledge it would be because that is not how they were trained. There is a noticeable difference between the training in Uganda and the training in the U.S. because in the U.S. they have training on a regular basis, usually monthly, and in Uganda regular training is rare.

Once the department leaves for a fire they face more problems with traffic and road names. In Uganda they lack many road signs, and traffic lights are usually ignored because during the day traffic officers are used to direct traffic. When going to a fire the officers must look at many maps to locate the fire, and the hydrants underground. The street sizes and composition also pose a problem, because many are very narrow and lined with businesses and people are all over the street. Also most streets are made of dirt and gravel rather than concrete, and are covered in pot-holes that drivers try and dodge because there are no designated lanes.

Being a firefighter in Uganda is a very unsustainable environment, because it changes day to day and they have little regulations. I think it could become a successful part of the economy if it was separate from the police, because too much time is spent on focusing on the police, and little funds go towards the fire department.

During the day students also visited the largest Ugandan museum. The museum was started in 1908 and has had 2 previous locations. There are only 3 total museums in Uganda today. While at the museum students were able to learn about 6 different sections of Ugandan culture: history, culture, nature history, ethnography, science and industry and exhibition.

Students received a personal tour from a knowledgably guide named Adolf and learned about fumigation. Which is a process of burning grass over milk in order to make the milk smell and taste better.

Students that visited the Ugandan Stock Exchange learned about how stock in general works, and how it works in small third world countries. In Uganda they only have 14 stocks, which started in 1998. One special trait about stocks is that the brokers have to wear red in order to make a stock exchange, and the employees must wear green to make the stock exchange.

This shows how Uganda is still very much developing, because of the low number of stocks that are available. In the U. S. there are tens of thousands of stocks that people are able to invest in with help from brokers.

The stock exchange showed how primitive this department of the economy was and how much more development can take place. I think it is possible to make the stock market a sustainable market in Uganda, but they need to be very analytical about where they advance from here and what fields that they invest into from this point.

In the afternoon the class attended a meeting with the Ugandan Investment Authority and learned about how the Ugandans try to attract many people into their market to create industry and jobs. They try and attract them in many fields: manufacturing, agribusiness, transportation, ICT, energy, mining, petroleum, services, and tourism.

They work as the main agency for the country trying to attract investors from Uganda and the world to invest in different markets. They try to attract them by highlighting how many natural resources are here, how much land is available, how malleable the people are to learning new jobs, and how new the market is.

The company’s goal is to increase jobs in the market place fore Uganda and increase the sustainable development. They do a good job in many ways by attracting new businesses to the country, but they are not able to attract everyone to the country. I do feel that they need to me environmentally aware with their projects, and make sure that when they open these new factories and business that they are environmentally friendly. Many of the people would tell us that they are taking environmentally friendly practices, but until they are seen in the country it is hard to trust anything that people tell us when we see so much pollution on an everyday basis.