Full house, empty garden

© Hannelore Martens

Protos Uganda started in 2016, after a well-earned Christmas break, with a full house and an empty garden. While some of the trees in our garden had grown too big and therefore been felled, the more than usual people in the house were making the place buzzing. Volunteers were giving support to the financial department and in the overseeing of the construction works for individual and public ecological sanitation, Tooro Botanical Garden staff were courageously preparing to continue the good, but  laborious work at Mpanga Falls and the Jese field staff, involved in the Protos program, had been collecting data in the field, mainly on IWRM-practices at household level, women in key positions in water management structures and the performance of the Water User Associations.

It was the early analysis of this data which was the starting point of an interesting and participatory planning process for our last year of the current program. To make sure the voice of the field staff would be clearly heard in the planning for 2016, we decided to have a preparation meeting with them. During that day they were given an insight in the primary results of the data-analysis and were tasked to make a poster about their project area with the biggest achievements of 2015, the major challenges met and a suggestion for where to focus on in 2016. After the posters were reviewed by peers, the head of the natural resource management department in Jese and the M&E officer of Protos the posters were then presented as a starting point for the discussion on the focus areas for 2016 in a bigger group.

“Wow, it was really good to have this preparatory meeting with the field staff. It allowed us - people really working on the ground - to deliberately prepare an overview of the most important challenges we faced last year, compare it with the findings from our data-collection, and to list up ideas for the future. I also appreciate the fact that we have a better insight in the budget-allocation now. It will help us to answer questions on the ground, because we now clearly know what we have decided to focus on and the reason why.” (Lukiya, Jese field staff)

It was a comprehensive process where we should be proud of and we believe that the output - four strategic notes - will help us a lot during our monthly reflections and the daily monitoring of our program. A brief summary of the strategic focus and plans for 2016:

  • Preparing the water user associations of Mahyoro, Nyabani and Kanara for financial stability and the transition to water boards which is a national policy
  • Kayinja landing site: contstruction of a fish cleaning unit, completion of 51m erosion wall, social marketing...
  • Karambi wetland: school IWRM, showcasing low cost sanitation technologies, tree planting, soil & water conservation structures
  • Mpanga falls: further stabilitzation of the critical habitat of the cycad


Article: Hannelore Martens