How village saving circles can help Ugandan farmers adapt to climate change
Uganda’s rural communities working to tackle climate change often struggle to access finance. Around 80% of the population work in agriculture, and can lack the necessary collateral and paperwork for conventional bank loans, or the technology to embrace mobile banking and microfinance.
“Banking is still a privilege for the educated, the people with collateral,” says Paul Asiimwe, Climate Change Operations Adviser to the EU Delegation in Uganda. “You have communities whose land-holding is very small, and maybe they are not literate enough to deal with banks.”
A GCCA-funded project to strengthen resilience to climate change in Uganda’s central cattle corridor has helped to address this with village saving circles.
In Kiboga, one of six districts covered by the project, farmers have been brought together into 52 farmer field schools. Implemented by Hunger Project Kiboga, the main aim is to link farmers up with agricultural experts to discuss farming techniques and solutions to a changing and unstable environment. But a second benefit is that the ready-made groups can save collectively and apply for loans.
“One of the most intriguing things in this project, which didn’t come out at the beginning, is the issue of village saving circles,” says Asiimwe. “You can imagine a village coming together and pooling their funds. When someone has a problem, they can run there and borrow. They have their own internal mechanism to manage these funds, without bureaucracy.”
Over a thousand members of the field schools are actively saving, and have so far put aside around €27,000 (98,310,500 Ugandan shillings).
The village circles also enable farmers to borrow at 2% a month through links with the Kiboga Food Farmers Initiative Savings and Credit Co-operative Organisation (KIFFI SACCO). So far, 135 members from 12 field schools have received loans approaching €25,000 (88.1 million Ugandan shillings). The majority of the funds (55.2 million Ugandan shillings) are accessed by women farmers.
“It’s a requirement for people to be in groups prior to accessing loans,” says Dr Richard Atikoro, District Focal Point Officer for the GCCA project in Kiboga District, Uganda. “Farmer field schools have been given priority access loans, since they are already in groups. All farmer field schools are being encouraged to open KIFFI accounts for the security of their funds.”
At the Aniyali Amanyi field school, the funds have been invested in maize production and growing tomatoes, beans and sweet potatoes. At other Kiboga field schools, the funds go into dairy farming, carpentry, poultry keeping, goat rearing, pumpkin growing and banana plantations. All these help farmers to establish diverse and sustainable sources of income, essential when the traditional livelihood of livestock is under threat from water shortage and cattle disease. Read more about these projects in the Voices & Views article, Enabling Communities to Tackle Climate Change
Further reading & viewing
Global Climate Change Alliance: GCCA
GCCA+ Launch Event (video)
Set up by the EU in 2007, the GCCA works with least developed countries and small island developing states to build their resilience to climate change. The initiative’s 2014-20 phase, GCCA+, aims to broaden engagement with civil society, community groups and the private sector. It runs 51 programmes in 38 countries. The Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) of the European Commission administers the GCCA+ on behalf of the European Union.