ACDA Transforms the Agoro Community

Humanitarian Social Innovations is excited to welcome Agoro Community Development Association to our community of social entrepreneurs.

For the past 50 years, Northern Uganda has been ravaged by conflict and activity by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group responsible for countless atrocities including child abduction, enslavement, forced labor and violence. The devastating effects are exacerbated in the Agoro community, a sub-county of the Lamwo District of Northern Uganda, which is especially vulnerable due to its remote location and lack of infrastructure.

In 2001, people displaced by the LRA conflict formed the Agoro Community Development Association (ACDA) in order to “join hands and help one another in search of the abducted or missing loved ones, and lobby for ways of supporting the affected person or family,” said Stephen Otim. As a child, Otim’s life was changed by the work of the ACDA, and today he serves as its leader, working to develop its programs and spread its impact.

“I was a former rebel captive, son to one of the founding members of ACDA, who was supported by the organization,” Otim said. “I was re-established back to the community, re-enrolled to school. But after returning from school in 2014, I found that support from ACDA lost steam due to disorganized management. And I realized that I had a duty to revive stalled achievements so that the organization can continue to support people like me.”

After reconnecting with the ACDA, Otim won a grant for his project on ending early, child and forced marriage from The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives. It was ACDA’s first internationally grant-funded project. Since then, the organization has grown to implement many more projects and tackle a number of priorities including education, child protection, access to health information and services, food security and human rights. Its mission is to carry out initiatives that educate and create advancement opportunities for deprived groups, particularly children, girls and young mothers.

“The real challenge is that the majority of the population is very young. Those affected by the war are now becoming parents with no survival skills; hence, the lack of education or role models means that what the young faced during the insurgency is being passed onto the younger generation. Alcoholism and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases are alarming. The vicious circle of poorly educated, sickly, ignorant, gender-insensitive cultures needs to be broken,” Otim said.

Projects for Positive Impact

Through a number of different programs, ACDA has begun to change the community — and the lives of those who comprise it — for the better. In 2018, the organization helped more than 500 underprivileged adolescent girls stay in school, supported 200 orphans and vulnerable children, educated more than 50 local and district leaders on child protection policies, established more than 10 girls’ clubs, helped more than 100 women generate a collective $10,000 in revenue from the sale of handmade paper beads, and benefited more than 20,000 refugee and host communities in the Lamwo District.

In 2019, through support from the Japan Water Forum, ACDA was able to improve refugee host communities’ access to drinking water and sustainable operation of water facilities by renovating a non-functional Rain Water Harvesting Tank (RWHT), repairing two broken boreholes, and forming two village water task force committees that were trained on good hygiene practices, operation and management of water points.

“As a result, more than 500 communities, one school and one health center directly gained access to safe drinking water, and this project is indirectly benefiting more than 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers,” Otim said.

Community members celebrate the renovation of drinking water equipment through ACDA’s Appropriate Rural Water and Hygiene Infrastructures project.

While ACDA has had success transforming the Agoro community over the past several years, it still faces daily challenges resulting from its isolated location, few volunteers and limited funding and assets.

“Agoro has lots of challenges and opportunities lying side by side. The hope is that at least I know I can connect to the outside world to help,” Otim said. “We just cannot manage on our own.”

Humanitarian Social Innovations is proud to sponsor and serve Agoro Community Development Association in order to maximize its impact.

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