News

Welsh scientific expertise to boost rural Ugandan farming

Tuesday 27 June 2017

The plant nurseries being built in Uganda

As prices for Uganda’s cash crops hit rock bottom, a Wales based collaboration – Community Enterprise Model for Plant Oil Production (CEMPOP) - are working to develop and trial a sustainable agri-business that supports local communities.

Using the expertise of Cardiff University and IGO Ltd, the project is growing alternative plants that would help producers generate a better income.

Subsistence farming is the main economic activity in rural Uganda, so the fall in the price of cash crops means that many young people move to towns and cities in search of a better future.

To try and counteract this the project is working with commercial farmers, and Ugandan based organisations Kyoga Youth and Women Community Enterprise, to engage with local communities and help develop a potential alternative to the growing of the usual cash crops, replacing them with Peppermint.

Peter Randerson a member of CEMPOP, and lecturer at Cardiff University School of Biosicences, said: “We have tried to set up the project in the most environmentally sensitive way possible, using local materials and expertise to clear an area of land to create the plant nursery.

“We are also using a variety of different methods to grow the plants to find the most efficient methods that are possible, that can easily be continued by the local community, so that they can reap the benefits.”

The production, extraction, processing and marketing of organic essential oils will create lasting opportunities for Uganda’s rural women and youth, coupled with educational opportunities for students in Cardiff.

Cat Jones, Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa said: “This innovative project is an excellent example of well thought out partnership work, with expertise in terms of the technical elements, such as sampling and testing being provided by Cardiff University and IGO Ltd, and local engagement and practical farming skills being provided by the Ugandan partners.

“Projects like this create an environment of shared learning, with benefits for all involved.”

The Hub Cymru Africa partnership is funded by the Welsh Government through the Wales for Africa programme and is hosted by the Welsh Centre of International Affairs.


Arts Organisation improving women’s rights in Kenya and Ethiopia

Monday 26 June 2017


Bridgend based organisation Valley and Vale Community Arts have been delivering workshops and training in Kenya Ethiopia and Wales to help improve the lives of women and girls.

The project has been using creative arts and film making to give local women a voice, helping them tell their stories and discuss issues of sexual consent, female genital mutilation and early marriage.

As well as helping provide platforms for women and girls to raise their voice, the project has been working with boys and providing practical ways to help the women and young girls make a living.

In Kenya, Valley and Vale have been working with a group of Maasai widows. After losing the main bread winner for the family, one of the challenges they face is the struggle to provide for themselves and their children.

Tracy Pallant of Valley and Vale said: “Our shared aim with our work in Kenya was to find a way to establish a sustainable long term employment, so initially we worked together to set up beekeeping and cultivation projects.

“The initial plan was for women grow their own crops, whilst the bees would pollinate and supply honey and wax. The Maasai women could then harvest and sell the honey and make candles to earn a living.

“However, due to the worst drought in recent times local honey production has not been possible for a while. Rather than not use the building set aside for the candle making project, we have converted it into a sewing workshop, making washable sanitary towels for girls as well as schoolbags and uniforms, providing a new skills base and income generation for the widows.”

Helen, one of the Maasai widows said: “We have enjoyed working side by side with the team at Valley and Vale, exchanging stories and building confidence and a strong bond together. Breaking down the harmful practices as well as providing us with the means to generate some much-needed income and help us determine our own futures.”

The project will be extending its work in Wales, using theatre workshops to work with young women from the Somali community, exploring the themes around harmful cultural practices in partnership with Cardiff based charity Hayaat Women’s Trust.

The project has been funded by Hub Cymru Africa, who are funded through the Welsh Government Wales for Africa Programme.

Hannah Sheppard, Grants and Policy Manager at Hub Cymru Africa said: “Although there seems to be a shift in the number of women and girls who are put through harmful cultural practices like FGM, the numbers in countries like Ethiopia (74%)* and Kenya (27%)* are still far too high.

“This kind of work is an opportunity for these women and girls to share their stories, breakdown the stigma and misinformation given and to help them invest in their own futures.”

Click here to see an animation produced by the schoolchildren in Kenya about FGM.

The Hub Cymru Africa partnership is funded by the Welsh Government through the Wales for Africa programme and is hosted by the Welsh Centre of International Affairs.


Swansea duo set up keyhole gardens in Cameroon

Tuesday 20 June 2017


Natalie Danford and daughter Lizzie have been working with a local organisation and schools in the Kumbo area of north west Cameroon to build keyhole gardens.

Keyhole Gardens are an effective technique for the schools to grow their own vegetables, and even sell any excess vegetables to help the school generate a small income. They are usually small gardens that are built specially to grow a range of vegetables that are fertilised through a central composting basket which grey water can be poured into, making them highly productive even when water is sparse.

Natalie said: “We have been working with seven schools in the area to develop the keyhole gardens. As well as providing food, the gardens are also important areas where pupils can learn about food production, skills many of the families have lost since they now live in an increasingly urban environment, without the space to plant.”

The project was set out following Natalie’s training at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. She used the training to create a workshop programme and created guidance which she uses to teach about the benefits of the gardens in partnership with the locally based organisation, Self Reliance Promoters (SEREP).

The aim of the project is to also build a keyhole garden in Swansea, involving local schoolchildren who will be able to learn about growing plants as well as linking up with partner schools in Cameroon.

Cat Jones, Head of Hub Cymru Africa said: “By working in partnership with a Cameroonian organisation, training workers in the organisation, members of the local community as well as teachers and pupils, the project is able to develop a work programme which can be rolled out to more schools in the area.

“The experiences of Natalie and Lizzie can then be used here in Wales to help develop a similar project which will benefit schoolchildren and the local community in Swansea.”

Wrexham Charity keeping Ugandan girls in school

Monday 19th of June 2017

Shame around periods means that many girls in Uganda lose at least three days a month of their education as they stay home when menstruating to avoid embarrassment and bullying.

Wrexham based charity Teams4U (T4U) has set up a project working in Uganda with educators in the eastern town of Kumi since 2006 to provide underwear and sanitary goods to girls aged 12-16 in 56 schools across the region.

As well as providing the sanitary pads, the programme also includes a Sexual and Reproductive Health education focus, using the expertise of the T4U volunteers and local educators to work with male and female pupils and teachers to raise awareness of the issues faced by the girls.

Recent funding from Hub Cymru Africa (HCA) is now allowing the charity to return to these schools to monitor the impact of their work.

Dave Cook, Head of Teams4U said: “I grew up in a household with 3 daughters and I realised that even with all the support and sanitation we have, they had to overcome some difficult challenges. Seeing the challenges faced by the girls in Uganda, who are often at risk of infection and poor health due to their circumstances and sanitation, I wanted to take action.

“Using the funding from HCA, we can evaluate what we have done and use this to understand how we can improve our training and increase local capacity to improve children’s lives. A new training centre nearby will be able to increase our capacity to do this.”

As well as the ‘Develop with Dignity’ sanitation programme, Teams4U also offer vocational skills based training to help improve the employment opportunities for local people, so that they can gain employment and support their families.

Beth Kidd, Grants and Development Support Manager at Hub Cymru Africa said: “Being unable to access proper sanitary wear is an extremely important issue leading to many girls missing out on education, which can have a big impact on their lives when they later look for jobs and opportunities to develop their careers.

“The T4U approach works well as it includes boys in the Sexual and Reproductive Health sessions and it breaks down the stigma allowing the local community to look at and address the issues themselves.”

The Hub Cymru Africa partnership is funded by the Welsh Government through the Wales for Africa programme.


Prisoners take action for drought appeal

Friday 5 May 2017

Prisoner Inmates at G4S run HMP Parc in Bridgend organised a 5 a side football competition to raise funds to combat the ongoing drought in east Africa.

Matches took place throughout the day with players paying to be involved in the competition, eventually raising £200.

G4S Custodial & Detention Services are being approached to Match the funding to reach a total of £400.

Ali Abdi, who works with young people in the Cardiff community from the visiting Cardiff Community Team (pictured above) said: “It was great to be involved, we had some really good close matches and an opportunity to speak with the prisoners about the ongoing struggle in Somaliland.”

The raised money will be donated to the Wales Somaliland Drought Appeal – essentials for those most affected by the drought.

Phil Forder, Community Engagement Manager at HMP Parc said: “Sport is an important part of the rehabilitation programme here at the prison. Many of the prisoners involved in organising the tournament are members of different diaspora communities and felt that this cause was something really close to their hearts.

“It was great to see them takling interest in a global issues and taking action to try and support those suffering in east Africa.”

To support the tournament,ethically produced Fairtrade Footballs were donated from Fair Trade Wales who are part of the Hub Cymru Africa partnership.

Cat Jones, Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa said: “We are really proud to be involved in supporting activities like this at the prison. Wales as a nation is well-known for solidarity and support of people less fortunate than ourselves and it is inspiring to see the prisoners getting involved.”

Hub Cymru Africa is supported by the Welsh Government and hosted by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs.


Celebrating solidarity on Africa Day

Thursday 25 May 2017


We will be joined by Wales based organisation who work in Africa to hear about their projects and will also be hearing from the First Minister, Carwyn Jones about the value of Wales – Africa work.

Political representatives from all the parties will also be present to outline their views on International Development.

Cat Jones, Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa said: “Wales has a strong history of solidarity, and should be proud of the excellent work of many of the dedicated small and often volunteer led organisations that are partnered with and committed to supporting communities across Africa.

“This event will allow us to celebrate this work and to reflect on the current challenges that are being faced by some of the world’s poorest communities.”


Let’s stand together in fight against poverty

Friday 5th of May 2017

The number of people living in extreme poverty in the world halved in the last two decades. UK aid has contributed significantly to this progress. We know aid works, but with 16,000 children under five dying needlessly each day, there’s a lot still to do.

Today, international organisations and faith leaders in Wales are calling upon Welsh political parties to maintain and extend their commitment by standing up for the interests of the poorest people in the world through supporting the spending of 0.7% of our gross national income on eradicating extreme poverty and delivering life-saving support.

Wales is rightly proud of its tradition of solidarity with oppressed people around the world. From campaigns against slavery in the 1790s, to action on apartheid and becoming the world’s first Fair Trade nation in 2008, Wales is a small nation with a large heart.

Now more than ever, the world needs Wales and the UK to stand firm in our leadership of the fight against global poverty. While life has improved for many, millions of people around the world are being pushed into crisis and poverty through armed conflict and climate change.

We think it’s important to remember all the amazing things that aid has achieved. Immunising 67 million children against preventable diseases. Providing life-saving food to more than 500,000 people affected by famine in South Sudan. And supporting hundreds of volunteers, aid workers and military personnel to fight Ebola in West Africa.

It is right that aid spending is scrutinised and done well – something that demonstrates that we keep our promises with those in need. That’s why we are calling on the next government to honour the letter and spirit of commitment to 0.7% GNI invested in aid, extending our leadership in promoting stability, fairness and prosperity around the world.

Let’s stand together.

Signed by:

Cat Jones, Hub Cymru Africa - Rt Revd John Davies, Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, Church in Wales - Huw Thomas, Christian Aid Wales - Kieran O’Brien, Cafod Wales - Veronica German, Dolen Cymru - Julian Rosser, Fair Trade Wales - Prof Tom Potokar, Interburns - Hannah Fitt, Safe Foundation - Mary Powell Chandler, Save the Children in Wales - Fadhili Maghiya, Sub Sahara Advisory Panel - Fiona Michael & Hywel Meredydd, Tearfund Wales - Kathryn Llewellyn, United Purpose - Dr Tony Jewell, Wales for Africa Health Links Network - Martin Pollard, Welsh Centre for International Affairs


Cardiff based entrepreneurs supporting Ugandan businesses

Friday 5 May 2017

The founder of the Capital City’s Riverside Market, Steve Garrett has recently returned from a trip to Uganda alongside Franck Banza who runs the Cardiff-based Centre for African Entrepreneurship.

They were there to visit a new social enterprise set up by a group of local widows in the region of Bwera, which Steve has been supporting and advising for the past five years. Alongside this, they also spent time meeting local entrepreneurs and researching the local situation to understand what kind of support they need.

Steve said: “Over time we have helped the widows set up a small food-growing project, and have worked with them to explore the best ways to sell the food they have grown, and identify other small businesses they could run to make an income and be able to feed their families and pay for their school fees and other essentials.”

One thing he quickly learned about rural Uganda when he first visited, was that there is virtually no welfare system of any kind, even for the most vulnerable, and all essential services such as education and health care must to be paid for, though in theory they are provided free to everyone. That why it’s been so important to work with local people to help them find their own ways to generate income.

The most recent enterprise project in Bwera has been to set up a mill to convert the maize and cassava which are grown in the area, into the flour that everyone uses as the basis for most meals. Previously, small subsistence farmers and commercial growers used to have to transport their crops to the nearest town to have them milled, which meant extra time and expense.

The new mill offers this service locally at a competitive price, meaning cheaper food for people and better income for farmers, at the same time as making a profit for the charity. The purpose of the visit was to evaluate how well the mill was doing in terms of efficiency and profitability, to offer suggestions on how it could be improved, and at the same time to meet other local entrepreneurs and see how we could support them individually as well as encourage them to work together to solve shared problems, such as with the electricity supply or transportation.

When Steve and Frank arrived in Bwera they were pleased to find that the mill was fully operational and beginning to show a small profit, at the same time as providing employment for up to four local people.

Steve said: “It has the potential to expand its level of operation significantly, but this will depend on raising sufficient capital to purchase more cassava and maize, so that turnover and profits can be increased. In particular, the mill hopes to supply local schools with flour, which will result in economies of scale and higher turnover, rather than relying on grinding smaller amounts for individuals, and to open a small shop on the mill premises where flour can be sold direct to the public.”

Steve will be keeping in touch with the mill project in the coming months to see what other lessons can be learned and shared, and to explore ways in which they might expand their operation and profits. Hopefull they can be an inspiration and a model to people in other parts of Africa facing similar problems.

The visit was supported by the Welsh Government through Hub Cymru Africa grant funding. Their visit also received support from the Sankalpa Fund.


Celebrating Wales - Uganda Links

Wednesday 26 April 2017

This week, the Ugandan High Commissioner will be visiting Cardiff as part of a celebration of Wales – Uganda links.

On her visit, H.E Prof Joyce Kakuramatsi Kikafunda will meet with businesses, charities and politicians to discuss international development, trade links and challenges and opportunities for Ugandans in Wales.

Wales has a proud history of connections with Uganda with many grassroots international organisations including Pontypridd-based PONT, Cardiff’s The Safe Foundation and Dolen Ffermio, based in Llanfyllin, having undertaken work with partners in the country.

Over the last two years, Hub Cymru Africa has supported 14 Wales based organisations to deliver 15 projects in partnership with Ugandan organisations and communities.

On the Friday (28th of April 2018), the High Commissioner will be speaking at the Hub Cymru Africa Uganda Day event in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff, alongside senior Welsh Government Minister Jane Hutt AM, who spent part of her childhood in Uganda.

The Ugandan High Commissioner, H.E Prof Joyce Kakuramatsi Kikafunda said: “We value our cooperation with Wales and I look forward to seeing how we can partner to continue implementing projects that improve the quality of lives of my people in Uganda and further develop these valuable partnerships for the benefit of both countries.”

Cat Jones, Head of Hub Cymru Africa said: “We are delighted to welcome the High Commissioner to Wales, many of the grass roots organisations we support deliver a wide range of projects in Uganda, from tackling climate change to ones that are helping people create a better life for themselves through better education and the development of entrepreneurial skills.”

If you would like to attend the Uganda Day event, you can register for free at: https://ugandaday.eventbrite.co.uk 

Hub Cymru Africa is supported by the Welsh Government and hosted by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs.


Installing Solar Panels in Zambian Schools – Many Hands Make “Light” Work

Monday 10 April 2017

When Cwmbrân based Giakonda Solar Schools made a recent visit to Zambia, it was a case of many hands making light work as teachers, pupils and community members joined in to install solar panels in four rural schools.

Howard and Wendy Kirkman of Giakonda Solar Schools (the charitable branch of their Swansea company Giakonda IT Ltd) have been working in Siavonga, Southern Zambia for the last three years.

By working together with the local District Education Board Secretary, they have identified twenty-six schools in the district which have no mains power. Last month, with grant funding from Hub Cymru Africa and the donation of eight solar panels from SolarPlants, they spent three weeks providing power, lighting and world class educational resources to four primary schools in the region. They also delivered computer and technical training to teachers and the community.

They worked with three British Council hub schools to improve their network infrastructure.

Howard said: “After giving them half a day’s training, I was able to supervise staff and “helpers” to connect up the solar panels in a matter of a few hours. Two 235W panels and a 200Ah battery provide enough power to run LED lights, a router and a Raspberry Pi server, which together provided a huge educational resource.”

The Bridgend made Raspberry Pi is a small computer designed in Cambridge, which only needs as much power as a mobile phone. It delivers an offline learning resource called RACHEL (Rural Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning). It is a vast library of articles and videos on everything from literature to agriculture, history to health technology and science. This can be accessed from a laptop and any other wireless enabled devices.

For a remote rural school, this solar set-up represents a big step forward by offering site security, lengthening the working day and providing world class learning materials.

The head teacher of Sianyoolo School commented: “With lights and educational materials like this we feel like a proper school!”

Cat Jones, Head of Hub Cymru Africa said: “Giakonda Solar Schools is a great example of innovative work, using highly skilled expertise from Wales to provide sustainable educational resources to rural areas of Zambia. “The shared learning and partnership work involved in this project, training local people to do the work also means that if there are any problems with the panels or IT kit, they are able to repair them on site.”

Hub Cymru Africa is supported by the Welsh Government Wales for Africa Programme.