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Long term success comes from every woman having access to the transformative power of all of AWR’s programs working together. Our impact model is facilitated through consistent coaching and mentorship and happens within the sequencing of five programmatic pillars.

Asset Transfer

(cash transfers, trees, garden tools and seeds, goats and oxen)

Skills Training

in regenerative agriculture


access to capital and savings

Adult Literacy

Girls Education

Capital + Skills + Education = Impact

Asset Transfers

Asset transfers are a centerpiece of the graduation model and help spur the creation of self-employment and financial stability. In AWR’s model, women receive first an asset transfer of the permagarden and the skills training needed to make it a generative asset. The skills training in regenerative agriculture includes an initial transfer of seeds and tree seedlings. Participants living in refugee camps receive additional support of agricultural tools and fencing materials for their gardens. Elderly participants that do not have the capacity to engage in large field crop production receive goats in lieu of agricultural training. All asset transfers are accompanied by training in how to manage them. AWR aspires to have transfers be concurrent to reduce the need to sell assets in emergency situations. Each participant is assigned a community mobilizer who provides technical support and encouragement.

Additionally, in the next phase of the model, participants get access to microfinance and savings through Village Savings & Loan Associations (VSLAs) groups. Each group receives a grant of $280 to provide start-up capital for loans and business investments. Women use these loans to buy tractors, cattle and other equipment that helps increase their farming businesses. With the additional income, they are able to pay for school fees, invest in livestock and crop production, build savings and support other small businesses – growing the local economy.

Christine received banana plants from AWR a few years back and training on how to care for and multiply them. Now she has a small banana plantation and can send her children to school. The combination of access to microfinance, skills training, assets and education is changing women’s life and breaking the cycle of poverty.

Skills Training – Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture builds the soil and ensures AWR’s farmers have greater access to a diversity of food crops throughout the year. These practices also reduce erosion and suck carbon out of the air and store it back in the ground and in the trees. Due to the war and living in IDP camps, an entire generation unfortunately has lost their agricultural skills. AWR trains women on the principles behind water and soil management and helps them to develop a contextual understanding to design a more productive and regenerative system. AWR’s Field Crop and Permagarden programs are structured around the appropriate use of local resources, water conservation and long-term soil fertility measures to help farmers sustainability produce a diverse variety of nutritious annual and perennial crops. Strengthening the ecological base of their food system enables increased yields, greater access to food in times of seasonal hunger and a more resilient farm in the face of climate instability, and extreme weather events. Income from ongoing permagardens also allows participation in weekly savings group activities.

Adult Literacy

AWR is one of the largest providers of adult literacy in Northern Uganda. Based on the participatory REFLECT methodology, AWR’s Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) centers are dynamic community resources that build self-confidence and foster change. More than just a place to become literate, FAL centers help participants identify critical community issues and innovative ways to solve them. For example, the lack of trustworthy candidates in the last general election inspired 59 FAL students to run for public office, 37 won. Learners in the centers have also repaired boreholes, opened up new roads, started marketplaces and built community schools for their children.

Enrollment and completion of the full graduation program ensures women have an income producing asset, increase their crop yields, gain vital literacy skills, and accrue savings for school fees and healthcare. AWR empowers women for long-term success – stability and financial freedom provided by microfinance and savings programs, skills in regenerative agriculture and the transformative power of education. The cost per program participant from inception to graduation is approximately $1200.

Girls Education

How to Keep Girls in School

AWR’s Girls’ Education program is focused on reimagining a system where less than 1% of girls move on to secondary school from primary in this Northern region of Uganda. AWR is centered on changing persistent attitudes towards girl’s education and the cultural and customary traditions that keep girls from attending and excelling in school. We work together with parents, caretakers, schools and government officials to create and uphold this change. The program provides academic mentorship, textbooks and supplies, life skills and sanitary pads to 1,500 girls across Northern Uganda. Results from 2019 show 80% of girls in our program passing the Primary Leaving Exam. Demand for girls’ education is high as you will see below in the second option for collaboration around immediate needs. AWR strives to be able to meet the demand for these programs, as we firmly believe that the graduation program both starts and ends with education, helping to permanently break the cycle of generational poverty.

AWR’s Girls Education program is divided into two main components:

  • Through community meetings, help parents identify and find solutions to the barriers to education.
  • Involve all community stakeholders in follow-up meetings to increase buy-in: parents, school administrators, community elders, government officials, etc.
  • Help parents become more involved in their girl’s education by providing monthly updates on attendance and academic progress.
  • Build the capacity of Senior Women Teachers to provide better support for girls in school.
  • Increase school attendance for girls by providing menstrual kits.

AWR’s community dialogue is focusing on discussions with parents where we help them identify the reasons for girls’ lack of success in school. Experience has shown that girl students of parents engaged in these types of dialogues have a far greater attendance record than those girls whose parents have not taken part in the community dialogues. AWR’s community mobilizers and school mentors visit parents at a minimum once a month to provide updates on their child’s progress and attendance. This helps parents become better informed and involved in their daughters’ education and help us identify and immediately solve the problems that prevent attendance.

The low graduation rate of girls is of great concern to local government leaders. Local leaders are invited to community meetings to emphasize the importance of regular attendance and the paying of school fees for all children. The program has been received with great interest and support from all levels of local officials. The success over the last four years has led to school officials at schools where we are not working seeking out AWR in hopes of expanding the program to their schools.

Most schools have a Senior Women Teacher who is in charge of girls at the school. The Senior Women Teachers play an important role in the daily interactions with girls at school, yet many of them lack an understanding of the serious barriers facing girls. By building their capacity and awareness on these issues, involving them in community discussions, and making them a main stakeholder in the program, we are helping them become better champions for the girls. The interactions we have had with them so far have been positive, they have welcomed the additional support they are receiving and are appreciative of the help we can bring in the classroom and with interactions with parents. Most of these teachers are overworked and underpaid, yet many are passionate about their profession and see our program as a way to be better able to provide for their students and improve the situation for girls.

A major impediment to regular attendance is the lack of menstrual pads. To solve this, AWR offers a kit containing reusable pads, underwear and soap that is sold to parents at a subsidized rate of UGS 3,000, which is the equivalent of 30 cents (kits are valued at $US 11 dollars). This is an amount that is affordable to most parents. For those who cannot afford it we have an option of doing community service. When parents buy the kit, they enter into an agreement with AWR and their girls to ensure 100% attendance at school. The kits are sold instead of being given away as the transaction is regarded as an investment in the education of their girls and thus becomes more valuable and influential on parent behavior.

  • Provide girls with access to support in the classroom 4 days a week.
  • Provide academic support for girls who are falling behind on an as-needed basis.
  • Build life skills through youth guest speakers.
  • Mandatory participation in a field trip to a secondary school.

The continued academic success of girls depends on their ability to receive meaningful instruction, be part of a classroom that is conducive to learning and access help that will explain concepts they don’t understand. AWR mentors work together with teachers as teacher’s aide to provide support to those students who need additional support. We provide practice tests throughout the year, so students become accustomed to test taking. AWR mentors work closely with the Senior Woman Teacher at each school, keeping track of individual progress of each girl so they are able to provide additional support where and when it is needed. Fridays are spent for home visits to those families where girls are starting to fall behind or are not attending on a regular basis. The program starts in Grade 4, as it is in this grade with the greatest drop out of girls. Each mentor is in charge of thirty girls. AWR provides textbooks and scholastic materials for all of the girls in the program as many schools lack basic items such as chalk, exercise books, pens, math sets and books for reading.

Girls have guest speakers come talk to them about issues such as reproductive health and personal hygiene, changes in their body, peer pressure, role models, teen pregnancy and early marriage, self-esteem, and non-conflict resolution. AWR is working in partnership with the Straight Talk Foundation Uganda who have helped develop an appropriate curriculum. Straight Talk Uganda has lengthy experience and a successful track record across Uganda in dealing with the reproductive health and development needs of young people.

Each girl participates in a field trip to a secondary school. Field learning trips are an important aspect of the success of all of our programs. When participants have a visual of what they are working towards they are much more likely to succeed. Since there are no secondary schools in these areas, few girls, if any, have ever seen or visited one. Many of the girls worry they are too old for school. It is helpful for them to visit a school to understand that a number of students are their age or even older.

The program continues with extra-curricular activities during the holidays. This varies depending on wishes from the groups of students. Activities include drama and dance performances, volleyball practice, mentoring for students needing extra help, essay and poetry competitions, debates, and access to books to read. Clubs from different schools interact with each other, for example in debates, writing competitions or sports. These activities are designed to deepen academic engagement, strengthen peer networks of support, and offer girls healthy choices and opportunities.

“My favorite subject is social studies. I want to be a lawyer because they earn a lot of money. I want money so I can help my mom. I will buy her food and clothes. I have eight siblings. There three girls and six boys. I am the 7th. Our father is not living with us anymore. He left.”
Nelly, 13 years old, in 5th grade

“I have seven children. Three are in school and it is a struggle for me to pay for school fees. My daughter Lakedi is 11 years old, in third grade, and part of AWR’s Girls Education Program. I have big hopes for her, she is a smart girl, very quick and she loves to learn. My husband had a motorcycle accident and died. I do garden work to support my family, but it is not enough. I hope you will continue support my child. With your help she will become something important in the future.”
Rose, 39 years old.

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