AIDEST in Uganda – for the empowerment of communities

By Denise Nanni and Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. For the next interview of today, we are moving to Uganda to talk to Herman Kizito Bukenya, Director of the Africa Intercultural Development Support Trust (AIDEST). We asked him about the major social issues in Uganda, and how AIDEST works to address them. Would like to thank Herman for his detailed answers and the photos he sent us. 


What are the main objectives of AIDEST?
Initiate, promote and create opportunities for the youths (men & women, girls & boys) for self-sustaining in the labour and employment market through entrepreneurship skills training while contributing to development efforts and country’s economy.
Advance human resource bases through community participation, education and technical centres establishment i.e. vocational centres to help reduce unemployment among the youths and poverty.
AIDEST embraces culture and traditional development by empowering young people at all levels to know their African culture / heritage through education, language, music dance and drama.
Sensitise the community to promote WASH initiatives to help communities and schools improve their health and living environment through establishment and maintenance of clean and safe water sources.
Promote environment and energy efficiency through community tree planting initiatives, energy saving cook stoves empowerment, solar solutions to reduce on trees and forests that are cut for wood fuel used by households for cooking, reduce on smoke generated from candles and lighting of wood.
What are the main social issues in Uganda?
There are a number of social problems affecting Ugandan society, which are worrying.
Poverty and disease are the main issues being debated, associated with poor sanitation, unclean water and inadequate housing and coupled with unemployment and population growth in urban slams / centres. As of 2015, Uganda’s population statistics indicates that 39032000 people.
Health sector is quite failing sector where insurance plans are hard to come by soon, health centres often lack adequate personnel or professional doctors, nurses and medicine/drugs, working in unsanitary conditions, which when you visit there its becoming unbearable, outdate equipment. A report done by The Africa Angle indicates that, doctor-patient ration stands 1-24000. So, a lot must be done by the government and the community / stakeholders. This kind of situation is mostly affecting the rural health centres and the common person becomes the victim of these issues, especially women and children.
Malaria according to national statistics 2012-2013, still leads the top causes of morbidity with over 15 million cases annually. This requires viable solutions to, not only blame to the government of done nothing but to encourage the health ministry to establish functional and equip the hospitals or health centres, however, the government should also listen and act accordingly, through healthcare provision that will help the citizens access it.
HIV&AIDS: Uganda has the youngest population in the world, with 77%being under 30 years. There are 7,310,386 youth from the ages of 15–24 years living in Uganda. It’s reported that at least 57000 of adolescents / youth are believed to get infected with HIV weekly, this is a worrying situation. As a community body concerned, AIDEST realised that there is need to build capacity in creating awareness among the youth of the dangers of HIV and rate at which the disease is being spread. It encourages them to always visit heath centres for check-ups to know their status, protect themselves, taking care of their bodies, not to engage in sex before knowing spouses status – it’s their human right to say NO, encourage them to always seek for counseling and testing. First, it’s YOU, YOUR LIFE, YOUR DREAMS.
A lot to mention in health sector, but AIDEST identified the above as crucial issues to share about.
How do you promote community empowerment?
For all the years since its establishment, AIDEST has been contributing to the promotion of community empowerment through working with the local community and stakeholders by engaging them to fully participate in new initiatives at the grassroots level brought by AIDEST. We usually organize meetings, seminars, and practical skills training for youth and single mothers within their home areas, and collaborate with local authorities to implement these programmes a channel through which are done successfully, as collective social responsibility.
AIDEST initiated a Youth Production and Skills Training program in 2013 that empowers disadvantaged youth (men & women), ongoing students in lower and upper institutions of learning, who want to develop or improve skills under entrepreneurship and innovation training programmes. We promote agriculture/agribusiness for sustainability through which we encourage young people to engage and learn modern farming to contribute to food security, increase on sustainable income and fighting poverty hence reducing hunger and insecurity among Ugandans and neaighbouring countries.
I initiated a project idea – ‘’Spring water4community Health’’ that aims at improving people’s health in rural areas by providing clean and safe water through mobilization in schools and communities, senstise them to participate in building of water sources within their localities, to reduce on diseases that affect their lives like malaria and typhoid as a result of contaminated and un boiled water. You can visit the initiative at can as well comment, contribute or encourage friends and networks to contribute. Thank you.
Do you address any specific project to women?
We’ve been addressing women project and/or issues in different ways;
Under the programme Youth Production and Skills Training, an all-youth empowerment that helps less privileged youths and women especially single mothers to become self-supporting by acquiring practical skills. Under this programme, women participate in tailoring and fashion, hairdressing and cosmetology, professional secretaries, management and operations, agriculture modernisation since they contribute so much on food productivity, handcrafts making and sales to enable them earn sustainable income to change livelihoods. I and AIDEST are so much concerned about improving lives through women emancipation and gender equality in job opportunities, whereby men are given the first priority in applying for them either in office or at business level. Men are still seen as the superiors for this matter, but AIDEST wants to begin valuing women as hardworking, capable and can become agents of change in society.
Of all applicants who apply at AIDEST to join short courses above, number of women exceeds that of men, this mean that women believe in themselves, this has led them to do good in business accounts and stability than men. However, there still existing gaps in women access to and control of resources, education, division of labour, property ownership, opportunities and political voices. Overall, women and girls continue to have less access to social services, are victims of gender based violence. So, mobilising and sensitizing them at grassroots to form village loan revolving schemes is alternative to support them excel in business and co-operatives, become social entrepreneurs through small business establishments that are manageable. AIDEST decided to take part in this because the number of single mothers in Uganda is on rise, due to lack of family responsibility and care that is supposed to be provided by men/husbands, and leave only the mother to cater for the children through all stages of growth.
How do you cooperate with local authorities and institutions?
AIDEST partners and collaborates with a number of organizations and institutions, these include local, national and international partnership.
Nfluco Youth Build Uganda (NYB). Collaborates in training youths in solar energy solutions and electricity construction and installation, through learn-by-doing method to enable them earn sustainable cash within a shortest time.
Balamu Community Outreach Programme (BACOP). To promote WASH programmes in schools and communities participation in Uganda.
Brick To Housing Pioneer Women Project (BHP). Young women enterprise that empowers women in entrepreneurship through agriculture, bricklaying and biogas energy efficiency and innovation in firing bricks and conservation.
Other partners at international level. 
For more information on our programmes you can check us However, there going to be upgrade on the programmes on the website, to include new ones that have been integrated e.g. metal fabrication, mobile solar energy training, African culture through art and music, dance and languages, water sanitation and hygiene, HIV&AIDS.