This year, I’ve been humbled by how our partners and communities are striving to overcome global challenges. Conflict, rising living costs, climate change and struggling public services are issues which face us all. The impact has been most severe for people with no resources to fall back on, and in the communities in which we work these struggles are at a different level. In Sierra Leone, inflation has hit 29%, while Kenya has seen its worst drought in 40 years.
But when I reflect on the achievements which have been made I am in awe of the determination to succeed and the ability of the women, young people and people with disabilities not only to find solutions to their poverty but also to share new knowledge and skills with their peers. Camel herders and women milk traders are working together to sell hygienic milk, bringing essential nutrition in an area with few alternatives. Women and men with disabilities have come together to get their voice heard, securing opportunities to earn a living with pride.
In Tanzania, the evaluation of the completed project with our partner organisation Tusonge found average monthly incomes of people with disabilities – mostly women – had quadrupled. In Kenya and Uganda we found that our project had helped over 22,000 women with disabilities gain access to services, with over 8000 jobs created.
We are excited to have started three new projects this year! One project was made possible by supporters of our Big Give campaign at the end of 2021, and is now helping over 200 women in Sierra Leone develop their vegetable gardens and gain new skills such as soap making. Another new project in Uganda helping over 1,000 women market vendors build their agency has got off to a fantastic start, with initial training enabling women to collectively secure changes to raise their income and opportunities. A new partnership with a sustainable palm oil company in Sierra Leone will tackle child labour in their supply chains. We have taken our time to assess this complex but growing issue, with data from almost 800 children and family members used to develop solutions to child labour which respond effectively to their voices.
Meanwhile we have continued learning from our child labour project in Uganda with our partner Platform for Labour Action. The project is generating understanding of the dangers of child labour, and providing skills to learn a trade so youngsters aren’t forced to engage in harmful work. We were delighted that our supporters raised £14,808 towards our work on child labour in Sierra Leone and Uganda through our Big Give Christmas Challenge this December.
At the end of the year we received the fantastic news that our partnership with MAPCO in Sierra Leone has been awarded a new project by the European Union to start in 2023! The competition for these funds is tough, and this is a great testimony from the EU in their faith in our ability to deliver. We will build on the community-based livelihoods model in our previous project, which closed this year with fantastic results – 5,741 people increased their incomes by at least 30% and 19 CBOs will continue offering livelihoods services to their communities. Our Power Against Poverty EU project starting next year will use our learnings to further improve linkages so that people in rural areas have a collective voice. We will need to raise matching funds for this project and for a new project with refugee and host women in Northern Uganda growing nutritious vegetables – so this will be a key priority for 2023.
Humbled by the tenacity of the people and partners we work with, we are deeply grateful to our supporters who have so kindly supported us to work with thousands of people to overcome poverty in these tough times. We value every penny. Thank you.