Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world

This blog was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Moureen Awori and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union

Written By

Moureen Awori (IITA) – lead, Solomon Lukyamuzi (IITA), Winifred Janet Acan (VEDCO)

November 25, 2021

“Being a Community Development Promoter (CDP) has earned me respect in the community, they call me “Apwony” – teacher”, proudly said Grace Akullo with a lot of strength and determination.

In August 2020, Grace Akullo, 45years was selected to work as the Community Development Promoter (CDP) under the project; Building Resilience to Enhance Food and Nutrition Security, Income and Health in Northern Uganda (BRENU). BRENU is a grant action implemented, under the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) programme, by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and partners; Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns (VEDCO), Rikolto international, Kilimo trust, Bioversity International and Ernest Cook Ultrasound Research and Education Institute (ECUREI), in Lango and Teso sub-regions.


Miss Grace Akullo with some of her children during an interview by the project M&E expert. Photo credit: Muzafaru Ssekamate (IITA)

The project uses the Community Development Approach to implement activities and the nurse and single mother of five, Akullo is one of the key agents for promoting productivity, markets and nutrition and public health for the project. She is the secretary of a 32 – women member Bedi-lworo farmer group in Okwongodul Sub-county in Dokolo District. She also works as Community Development Facilitator, and the CDP for a cluster of 10 groups within her community.

For Akullo, being elected as the CDP is likely to bear more fruits, socio-economic game changer in her life and community at large. BRENU has accorded her a wealth of knowledge and skills to enable her give peer technical support to her group members and the rest of the 9 group she is leading. Some of the key trainings she has received include, Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLA) methodology, financial literacy, collective marketing, and business development skills. “Being a community development promoter has made me a role model and reference point for any production, markets, nutrition and health information needs in the community,” says Akullo. She now advises her group and other cluster members on production, marketing, nutrition, and household incomes. Besides the trainings, Akullo mentioned other benefits from the project like bicycles which were given to CDPs to ease their movements during activity implementation and monitoring.

Despite being the CDP, Grace is an ordinary small-scale farmer engaged in maize, Cassava, Soya bean and sim-sim production. “I have been growing cassava on a two-acre piece of land with an average yield of 250 Kgs per acre and earning an average price of Shs 600 per Kilogram of dried cassava sold” she says.

The low yield, poor post-harvest handling techniques and dismal earnings from cassava has kept Akullo’s family in a vicious cycle of poverty. This was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic as it was hard for them to access inputs.

Despite the challenges, the single mother still smiles at the future with optimism, her dream is to specialize in value addition of cassava, soybean owing to their high market demand. Grace is also hoping to host the demo plots as she proudly said, “my garden has passed the test to host a demonstration for the community”. Her long-term goal is to construct a permanent house and use one room for storage and selling her products.

Miss Beatrice Arach, The DINU Gulu Regional Programme Cordinator on the left hands over a bicycle to Ms Grace Akullo at Dokolo District headquarters on 16th Dec 2020. Centre is Mr. Perez Muchunguzi, the BRENU manager. Photo credit: Rogers Muhereza (IITA)