WOUGNET opens yet another Rural information centre in Amuru district, Northern Uganda

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The volatile and rising global commodity prices have not only affected the rural farming communities but also set uncertainty among the farming communities. The World Bank earlier this week said that its index of food prices showed that the cost of basic food was up 36% this year in March, and since June last year, 44 million people had fallen below the poverty line around the world as a result of higher food prices. If prices rose further, tens of millions more could be also be pushed into poverty, it warned.

In December 2010, WOUGNET with support from Food and Agriculture Organization –FAO of Uganda started working with farmer Field schools – FFS in Amuru and Anaka sub counties in Northern Uganda, using ICTs to access commodity prices at the prevailing market rates. The idea behind all this was that, once farmers had current commodity  prices at their finger tips, others costs like transport would be reduced and farmers would have better negotiation power. In a liberalized economy like Uganda, there are many factors that determine market prices.  In the rural communities, ignorance of commodity prices is an additional factor that makes the majority of farmers sell at the lowest prices to meet their economic needs therefore making losses season after season and living “hand to mouth”.

WOUGNET’s strategy

WOUGNET’s strategy is that Ribeber Rural Information Centre will act as an infomediary, a point where farmers and members of the community will be able to access current information on market prices, agricultural information including other development information. At the same time, members of the community, especially the youth will be able to acquire and improve their ICT skills – with a capacity building focus on women, market prices and ICTs. Lessons learnt from previous experience at Kubere Information Centre in Apac district, have seen this centre, set up with a solar system to power the computer and other electronic equipment. Ribeber Rural Information Centre is located in a remote district where the National power grid does not pass. This will make access to digital information more easier to the people in this area. This  makes the centre , the first of its kind in Amuru district.

About Amuru District

Amuru is one of the new districts established by the Ugandan Parliament in 2006. Prior to that, the district was part of Gulu District. Together with Kitgum District, Pader District and Gulu District, Amuru District is part of the larger Acholi sub-region, home to an estimated 1.5 million Acholi. The district is predominantly a rural district, lacking any tarmac road, despite its size. It is The administrative headquarters of the district at Amuru, is located 60 kilometres (37 miles), by road, west of Gulu, the largest city in the sub-region. The coordinates of the district are: 02 49N, 31 57E.

This article has been compiled by Janet C Achora – WOUGNET Senior Programme Officer, Information Sharing and Networking.

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