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UGA06 - Gen Obango Lira Widows Loan Programme : Partnership Reports

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Report Date: March 3, 2023

Report from BHW Uganda Partnership Facilitator Following Visit October 2022

We arrived in Lira on 26 October from Mbale having travelled with Simon and Anna. We had some good discussions enroute. Anna and Simon seem to be in quite good heart particularly given the health, financial, and accommodation stresses that they are under. They had been given notice to vacate the house in Mbale by mid-November 2022 (this has since been extended and they have not yet had to move). 

Recent Events

Loan Beneficiaries

doing wellWe met with a number of people from the Gen Obango loan group. There were eight of them, many of whom we had met before, but some that we had not. The loan group now consists of 89 people. Several of the people who we met with are now taking responsibility for other loan beneficiaries so some of the responsibility has passed to other people. All of the 89 have loans in some form or other, but all have struggled hugely during the severe two-year lockdown imposed by the government. The lockdown may not have been quite as strenuously enforced in the north as it had been in the south, but it was still awful. The common theme was that most small businesses failed during the lockdown. However, we were encouraged that nobody has left this group and, according to Anna, all have acknowledged their responsibility to repay their loans, even though some are completely unable to do so at present. There have been nine deaths in this group over the two-year lockdown which has also imposed a lot of stress. 


Penninah and Anna are also both struggling with health problems, particularly in their legs, and with arthritis. At the time we were there, there was also a growing concern about whether the Ebola outbreak in southern Uganda would affect this area. (This emergency has since passed, and the government has eased the lockdown of parts of southern Uganda.)   


not operating currentlyOn the morning of 28th October, we made a snap decision to travel back to Entebbe and to leave the country early because the media was reporting a growing push to lockdown Kampala due to the Ebola outbreak. This meant that I was not able to review the books of the partnership or visit loan beneficiaries in the field but we did have time to visit the mill. The mill is operational, but there is a “shortage” of available maize. We are not quite sure how this works, but the other mill that is on the same block of land has also closed down for the same reason. At the same time, it is quite apparent from the local area that maize is being grown in quite large quantities. 


Personal Stories

Alice: She has been part of the loan programme for quite some time, but I have never met her before. She keeps pigs and grows produce, although lost a lot of the produce during the drought in Northern Uganda. She also lost most of her pigs to swine flu but has 13 left. She also has sheep and wishes to sell one to clear the remainder of her 800,000 UGX loan, of which she has paid half.

Judith: This is not the Judith who is now starting to take a leadership role in the programme. This lady grows produce and also buys and sells food, particularly soybeans and beans. The pandemic destroyed this business, and she has very few customers, but is managing to survive.

Agnes: Agnes previously had a restaurant which failed during the pandemic. She now keeps cows. She has four heifers which are Friesian crosses. She is milking one and keeps the others for meat. She says that her business is good.

Margaret: We’ve previously reported on Margaret. She has been trying to grow produce but this failed due to the sunshine. She has gone back to having a second-hand clothing business but because of the economic downturn, this is not doing well but she is getting by.


I also talked to several other loan beneficiaries, but they have previously been reported on.  I did not have enough time to review the books for this programme but have previously recognised that Anna is quite scrupulous in her record keeping and is also an inspirational leader.

It was a shame that this time, given our limitations and plan change to return to New Zealand, we could not go out into the field to meet more of the recent loan beneficiaries, but our concern to get back to Entebbe and avoid the risk of lockdown or being cut off shortened the visit. Anna is to provide a list of all of the beneficiaries.


Plans for the Future

Foundations for Farming

All of the loan beneficiaries talked about the fact that they had been planting, but that sunshine had “disorganised” them. Translated, this meant that the crops failed because of drought. In reality this is not quite the case. There appears to be a traditional mindset operating here. The actual reality is that many of them were not aware of possible drought protection measures.  This is where Foundations for Farming could come in. There is certainly a degree of interest in this area and John and I agreed that we should explore the possibility of funding a local trainer to spend a week training the loan beneficiaries here in FFF.

In practical terms both growing seasons this year have been bad. If we could find a local trainer to come and teach the loan beneficiaries then, at the very least they will be able to grow food to support themselves and their families. It could even be a prerequisite for receiving a loan, although that would be up to Anna and the local leadership. I did discuss that with them. There are possibilities for local trainers in both FfF and table banking.

Loan Boost

We have recently forwarded US$2,000 to this loan programme as a boost. Anna wishes to bring on another 10 beneficiaries who are presently waiting in the wings. All of the present 89 have loans ranging from 300,000 to 700,000 UGX (US$80-180) although I think that there may be some larger ones too. The loan sizes are not that great, so I recommend that we provide an additional US$1,500 one off payment to boost this programme and to enable the remaining 10 people presently waiting to join.  

I do not want to set an ongoing budget for this loan programme at present, as it is clear that in some way that I don’t fully understand, they have coped through a traumatic time. I do not want to undermine that resilience but do want to open the door to this programme flourishing again.


Prayer and Praise Points

1) We can give huge thanks that this loan programme has actually expanded during and after the COVID lockdown. It is incredibly impressive. I am impressed by the persistence and creativity of this group. For a number of reasons it is not as cohesive as the group in Mbale (UGA05) as it is divided more clearly into subgroups but the programme is still working apparently very well.

2) For Anna and Penninah’s health. Although Anna sees the need to bring further leadership into this programme, the programme is largely dependent on the ongoing health of both of them. They both report joint and other age-related issues etc, and they have mobility issues at times which makes moving around and meeting the beneficiaries difficult, although they continue to do this.

3) The issue that we have previously reported on with the Karumbe Pentecostal Church is mainly resolved however the woman who caused the problem is still stirring that pot and periodically undermines what is going on in the programme. Pray that this would stop. 



The loan programme seems quite exceptional due to the fact that it has continued, that people are repaying, and there are new people who have been introduced into the group. This is wonderful. There is also an understanding that the groups need to be subdivided into smaller groups with new leadership being developed. Judith, on whom we have previously reported, is one of the people who is starting to take a leadership role here. She is HIV positive, but clearly has considerable standing in this community.

Not all payments are regular, and they are giving grace in the repayments, as it is obvious from even the simplest look at the town, that business is down, poverty is rife, and people are finding it very difficult to support themselves and their families.