What is happening?
In this mountainous region of Uganda, most slopes are steep and therefor difficult to cultivate. The area is densely populated, and 80% of the population live on subsistence farming. Subsistence farming is a form of agriculture that is only concerned with short-term yields. In general, farmers have small plots that are cultivated permanently. This leaves little time for the soil to settle and replenish. Few livestock are reared locally, and hence little manure is brought back to fertilise the soil. Because of an increasing population density, land is used even more intensely than before whereas it would need time to replenish. As a result, this leads to soil degradation and increases erosion.
In addition, farmers mainly grow staple foods such as potatoes, bananas and maize. Because of subsistence farming, the nutritional intake of locals lacks diversity and causes nutritional deficiencies in the diets of the locals.
What Amasiko Does
Because Amasiko focuses on sustainability, we are developing projects modelled with ecological values to teach and demonstrate how farming – even subsistence farming – can be done sustainably.
However, the population has a very conservative individualistic mentality, which makes it difficult to introduce innovations to older generations. Our hope and attention is therefore focused on young people. In our experience, they are much more open to new technologies, and it is therefore possible to teach them about sustainable agriculture.
In addition, we aim to involve adolescents in the development of our projects. This is not only to give them an insight to our ideas, but it is also in adherence with our philosophy: “learning towards a greener future.”
Amasiko sees eco-tourism as a potential alternative source of employment and income for young people. We therefore want to develop responsible tourism and familiarize youngsters with these principles.
The International Eco-tourism Society defines Eco-Tourism as:
"Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education" (TIES, 2015). Education is meant to be inclusive of both staff and guests.”
For more information visit the website of The International Eco-Tourism Society
The cottages have all built with eco-friendly techniques and materials. For example, the Zebra cottage has been made with the "Earth Bag" technique which uses sacks of earth stacked up to form the walls. The "Giraffe" is constructed from wood waste left over from sawing felled trees – an impressive technique of up-cycling unwanted waste.. See also the holidays page to learn more about our accommodation.
Amasiko gives young people a chance to follow a work-based learning program. This is not formal training but a practical way to work, live and contribute to our community. In practice, this means taking up work where we need it - whether that it is with farming, rearing livestock, maintaining our property, cleaning, painting, or working in the kitchen. Employees are expected to be able to contribute where their hands are required. This focus on learning practical skills is necessary for improving living conditions for the local population.
Our aim is to guide the community in health and hygiene, sustainable agriculture, livestock rearing, fruit and vegetable cultivation, using renewable energy sources, and, most importantly, respecting the environment and civil society at large.
The nearest primary school is 6 km away – a distance too far to walk for the youngest children. It is because of this that many children do not attend school.
We believe educating the young is integral to instigating innovations. With money that was donated to our organisation in 2013, we built four wooden classrooms. We also have a brick building which is used as classrooms for the youngest students at our school.
We began our school with 4 teachers who taught 84 children. In 2015 we have built a brick building and there were 119 children in our school. Now in 2017 we are constructing another brick building with four additional classrooms. At the moment there are already 152 children enrolled and 9 teachers employed.
Amasiko has discovered that schoolchildren suffer from qualitative malnutrition, i.e. they have sufficient carbohydrates, but too little protein and vitamins. Because better nutrition enhances children’s’ performance, we want to support the local farming community to diversify their crops in a sustainable manner. By working together with the parents of schoolchildren, we are trying to make improvements in the diets of their children.
Local hens lay few eggs and they grow slowly. They scavenge freely in the yard and therefore many young chicks fall prey to predator birds. The Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture has therefore introduced a new chicken breed, the Kuroiler, from India. This breed grows much faster and lays up to 6 times as many eggs per year. Having this breed of bird means more eggs and more protein for the children!
Amasiko Green School is going to introduce the Kuroiler to this region. We are initiating a breeding program whereby local chickens can be exchanged with us for the new species.
We also want to encourage the keeping of dairy goats in the region. For locals, goat milk can be a necessary source of nutrients. We are working on a snowballing system where parents of our school’s students are given a goat whose lambs will then be given to another family.
In our newsletters we write about the progress of our projects and we make regular calls for a contribution towards specific goals. Want to be kept informed?