In the early 2000s, the remote Ugandan sub-county of Katine had suffered the devastating effects of a 20-year civil war, caused by the insurgency waged by Joseph Kony’s ‘Lord’s Resistance Army’.
The entire Katine community were displaced as a result, and their livelihoods were destroyed. A lack of clean water and sanitation systems saw disease and poor health increase, and as a post-war population, social and mental wellbeing suffered too. With the return of peace, resettlement was achieved but the people of Katine continued to face difficult economic, social and health conditions.
It was against this backdrop that, in 2007, Amref, The Guardian, Farm Africa, Barclays Bank and the communities of Katine joined forces. With the support of all of our generous donors, we planned to develop five key areas: water, health, education, livelihoods and community empowerment.
The Katine project held all the promise of an aid success story and offered the public a unique insight into the real world of international development. The number of people testing for HIV increased threefold; new classrooms were built; safe water sources were closer to peoples’ homes; and a Farmers’ Co-Operative was set up. For many, this legacy has endured. But for every achievement, we faced all of the complications and challenges of real life too.
Aid really works when it is developed with meaningful participation from those it intends to help. The persistence of global poverty and the length of time it takes to see real improvement in numbers, for some, casts doubt over the effectiveness of projects like Katine. At Amref, we deliver our work through listening and collaboration, in a way that enables governments and communities to tackle poor health and inequality themselves. This makes our work sustainable. We are in it for the long term. Everyone has the right to health - and we envision a world where everyone can access that right.
Image (c) Dan Chung for The Guardian