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Monday, August 26, 2013

THE POWER OF INFORMATION SHARING.

RIC-NET joined the rest of AgroPri Focus team for the Market Day Event in Fort Portal town from the 15th to 16th August 2013. The objectives of the event were; to increase the access of farmers to information, products and services available in the market, encourage farmers use of friendly products in the farmers, promote farming as a viable investment for financial.RIC-NET in addition to the above was promoting the need of Plant Pests and Disease control by encouraging farmers to constantly visit the Market Day Plant Clinics. 
Farmers were assisted by Ms. Biira Constance and Mr. Asaba Wilberforce trained Plant Doctors with CABI, MAAIF and Makerere University.
 
RIC-NET for the past 2 years has championed Plant Clinic activities using her in-house resources. This has helped farmers cope with the increasing Pests and Diseases that have been attacking their crops in the gardens as well as after harvesting. Some of the most affected plants were cassava, maize and cocoa which are commonly grown in the region. 

 RIC-NET stall offered series of information to different categories of people. These included farmers, students, local government staff, business people and other members of the public. Much of the information sought was on Plant Pest and Disease control that is being operated by Our Plant Doctors, Market information and Agriculture crop growing methods.


 Community members who visited our stall at the APF market Place event from 15th -16th August 2013
     Farmers
  Students
  LG staff
  Business       people
Other exhibitors
Others

M
f

M
F

M
F

M
F

M
F

M
F
92
53
39
47
27
20
17
10
07
23
14
09
41
24
17
42
31
11




















Other demand was in market linkages to credible buyers who are willing to offer a fair price. Farmers’ voices were that more Plant Doctors are needed to visit their farms to provide on sight remedies to the problems on their farms as it was done towards the prevention of BBW.


Closing the event, the Area MP Hon Alex Ruhunda thanks the CSO members for their work towards transformation of agriculture by providing timely and relevant information to the farmers. He encouraged the farmers and other people that had attended to use the information available to improve farming for investment and business.

STUDENTS APPRICIATE ICT INNOVATIONS IN TEACHING.



Students of St.Theresa Girls Secondary School Nsenyi in Kasese District have appreciated ICT innovations in the learning process. This was revealed during a two day visit from 8th to 9th August 2013 by the staff of Rwenzori information centers Network during the retooling exercise of teachers of English in the use of ICT. The innovation in place involves integrating the use of ICT tools in the teaching-learning process. St Theresa Girls are having six (6) teachers of English who have received training in use of ICT.


This is what the students said in relation to the kind of learners the teachers have helped by integrating ICT in teaching. Mary Kabugho S.5. “Audio visual tools have helped me to get the correct pronunciation of words thus helping me to perfect my speech”. Sylvia Muhindo S.3, “lessons are now more attractive and I these days like English more than other subjects”.Jovia Biira S.3, “teachers no longer bore in Class”. Mackline Mbabazi S.5 “role play has helped me to understand certain poems much better”.Biira Janet “our teachers have been able to explain the concepts much better and at least they no longer talk much in class”…I had problems with the way the teacher could pronounce some words but I ask the teachers to continue”.Masika Gorret S.1, “I have been able to understand the nouns by using the different animations in class”… “I think we can understand better if we can act the books in literature lessons”. According to students role-play and use of short videos is more important in the learning process.
According to Ms Mbambu Peninah a teacher of English at the said school, she mentioned that the integration if ICT tools in the teaching process has helped them to cater for: Visual learners prefer to read silently and make good use of any illustrations that go with the text. They will generally prefer you to teach with written instructions and will benefit from you acting out situations, watching a demonstration or presenting scenarios in videos. Tactile learners are often students who just don't get what you're trying to teach in a traditional teaching or worksheet based lesson. Kinesthetic learners take in information best when they use their whole bodies to complete practice exercises. Audio learners learn best by listening. Students who get a lot out of lectures, verbal explanations, tapes and oral instruction are generally classed as auditory learners. Language activities for this type of learner are mainly listening based. They include activities that involve repetition, dictation, and listening for clues.
Much more emphasis should be put on content development in lesson preparation to cater for the different the categories of learners.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

RIC-NET SHOWCASES IN THE REGIONAL FARMERS’ SYMPOSIUM.


It was 15th and 16th August 2013, when Rwenzori Information Centers Network participated in the 4th Annual farmer’s symposium held in Kabarole District for two days at kagote SDA hall. Under the theme “ linking farmers to wider Agribusiness  opportunities  The event  was jointly organized  by  Agriprofocus  and  the  regional  steering committee  comprised of RIC-NET ,KRC, SNV, CABCS, FORMA, KYEDFA, Kiima Foods, PELUM, BIC, SATNET, Hofokam, Pride Microfinance and Centenary Bank among others.
The Marketplace event was aimed at bringing together key actors in agricultural sector for networking, sharing information, dialogue, interaction and making deals.
The  show targeted   mainly  Individual farmers, farmer groups, cooperatives, Associations, input dealers, Agro-traders, processors, government extension workers, farmer organizations and NGOs around Rwenzori region dealing  in Agricultural financing and market information.

people accessing market information at RIC-NET stall

RIC-NET stall hosted over 201 clients who accessed Information on crop protection by plant clinics, news letters and a Newspaper article  where market prices of banana, maize, cassava, beans, vegetable were displayed on RIC-NET stall for local farmers and then  an agricultural portal on www.ricnet.co.ug enabled farmers with advanced technology to access current ,timely and relevant information on line.   
 
RIC-NET plant Doctor explaining plants diseases.

The event was officiated by the MP Fort-portal municipality  on 15th August 2013 who called upon the participants to  access  information on  modern farming from the CSOs in the region and more so invest  widely in the Agriculture sector .
The symposium was also spiced by a networking dinner at gardens where participants danced to their best.




Monday, August 19, 2013

See it happen

It was yet another brighter moment at Pope Paul Memorial Hotel kampala where connect for change and wash partners through I-Network stormed the place for a website design and akvo tool training.
The training facilitated by IICD/I-Network ICT advisor and Luuk Diphoorn and Elma den Toom from connect for change attracted participants from RWECO represented by ICT Officer Yosia, Diocese of Jinja (health dep’t), Health Child, Health Needs Uganda (HNU), LACODEF, Mango tree, computers for schools Uganda (CFSU), ELECU, FAWEU, UCMB, UNHCO and I-Network the hosts.
The training lasted for two days from 15th-16th August 2013. This was basically for organizations implementing C4C projects to get more skills in the use of these online platforms.
Training Session 
RWECO implements a project with Connect for change through CFSU in primary and secondary schools.
Among issues trained in was the use of websites, having a good website and what it takes to have a functioning website. It was such an interactive session that we got to learn more from each other.
The other important tool during the training was the akvo RSR (Really Simple reporting).  Akvo makes it easy to bring your projects online and share progress with everyone involved and interested. This includes those who are funding the work you do or who wants to see things from your perspective. This is a tool that or an online platform at www.akvor.org
Participants were taken through the platform and how it works. Accounts were created for every partner that participated in the training. It was also noted that any project officer can sign up and always update the page with activity updates especially on connect for change projects.
Creating an Akvo user account.
Click the Register link at the top of your project page or the Akvo home page
(www.akvo.org). Choose your organisation and continue to the setup page.
Enter a username. Your username is what you will enter to sign in to your account. Make it something easy to remember.
Enter your first and last name. Your Akvo RSR account is yours. Updates and comments will display your name, not just that of your organisation.
Enter a password. Eight or more characters, capital and small letters mixed with some numbers, is the most secure. Entering it twice verifies you typed what you thought you typed.
Enter your email address. So we can send you a confirmation email.
Click the Register button. Follow the instructions in the account request email you will receive. Your account request will be reviewed by either your organisation’s administrator or an Akvo staff administrator. Within a couple of days you will receive an email confirming you have been approved, and then you can sign in to Akvo RSR.
Participants waving their certificates high after the training.
RWECO and CFSU page on the akvo.org site is found at Akvo.org - Effective teaching-learning processes by ICT and so at that page you can be able to see a number of updates on the effective teaching learning processes by ICT project implemented here in the Rwenzori region. We updated the page with some stories during the training.
Another important aspect was all about capturing good photos and easy videos that can tell ones story or report easier while reporting online. Participants interviewed them themselves and all these captured videos will be uploaded by the Akvo team.

It was such an interactive training that members at the end of it all were told and encouraged to always update their project pages with activities or what they’ve implemented. However these activity updates are not meant to be long stories but few paragraphs with pictures and straight forward to the point. 
One of the stories i uploaded during the training can be accessed at  http://www.akvo.org/rsr/project/353/update/3493/.The platform also allows you to upload Videos.

Friday, August 16, 2013

THEY MAKE THE CHANGE HAPPEN

I am Miss Uganda, I am a U-reporter. My beauty has purpose, and the purpose is to speak out on what is happening in my country Uganda, to  be a role model, to influence and cause social change in Uganda especially for the children and the Youths thus remarked Miss Uganda 2013 Ms. Stella Nantumbwe at the U-report second annual conference.
Giving the key note address at the U-report Conference on 12th Aug. 2013 at Grace Land Hotel, Bunga Kampala, the beautiful, graceful and brilliant Miss Nantumbwe shared her faith in U-report and passion for social change through peaceful and collective means such as U-report. She explained that together makes it best “my position and mandate give me an opportunity for my voice to be heard but being a U-reporter and a member of this big network gives me even a bigger voice, I am happy to be a U-reporter. And I am certain that U-report is an essential platform on which we can share ideas and speak out on those things that others choose to ignore” Miss Stella remarked. She appealed for the recruitment of even more U-reporters to keep the wheel of reporting, sharing information and speaking out on what is happening in our communities for social change rolling. Miss Stella pledged to work with her team of regional misses to recruit U-reporters in their regions every time they go out to work.
The second annual conference which aimed at finding out what U-reporters have been able to do in their communities how they have been able to use the information received was held under the theme Youth Action for Social Change. It was officially opened by the U-report Song that calls upon the youths to speak out on what is happening in their communities. At the Conference the U-reporters from across the Country were engaged in several things; presentations from key speakers, group work and sharing of group work discussions, interface with honorable members of parliament; Hon. Majegele for Bunya East Constituency and Hon. Florence Mutabulye for Namutumba District, also Chairperson Parliamentary forum for children; and entertainment from the Music icons Peter Miles, Lillian Mbabazi and Big Deal. Exciting to note is that both MPs and Music celebrities are official and active U-reporters who too believe that U-report is one platform that effectively gets youth to participate in the decision making processes of this country and also gives them an opportunity to be heard.
Hon. Florence speaking at the conference
In their interface with the Honorable MPs, the U-reporters among other things sought to understand what the MPs and Government were directly doing to curb the increasing unemployment among the youth following the failure of the Youth Fund; to improve the deteriorating state of service delivery in the Country especially in the health and education sectors; and how much they U-reporter MPs are doing in the promotion and utilization of the U-report platform in their day to day work.
Responding to the raised concerns the MPs expressed regret about the failure of the youth fund. They revealed that they too were never given adequate time to debate its details, although they called upon the youth to remain optimistic, study and work hard and also learn to speak out on what isn’t right in their communities if social change must be achieved.
Hon. Majegele speaking at the Conference
About service delivery the honorable MPs noted that government was doing its best to improve it, adding that this is evident in the routine disbursement of funds to lower local governments and the routine monitoring of these services and funds by the political leaders to ensure value for money. In addition to this Hon. Florence said the 9th Parliament had lobbied the Executive for an increase in the health budget, and this was done. “This year the health budget saw an increase of more than 40billion, this was geared at recruiting more health workers and increasing the salaries of the doctors in hard to reach areas” she noted. Hon. Florence however decried the increasing corruption in the country that has kept watering down government interventions to improve social services. She appealed to everyone to join the MPs in monitoring and reporting on service delivery.
About the promotion and utilization of the U-report platform, Hon. Florence noted that from time to time they have in their different committees tabled and discussed the issues brought to their attention by U-report Officials. And most often the polls and information received has guided their planning and interventions. She also revealed that she had through her district youth leader been able to recruit 50 U-reporters and she is still going to recruit even more.
U-reporters sharing in a group discussion
Smartly clad in their grey U-report T-shirts, and blue wrist bands, coupled with the joy of getting together, the U-reporters in their different groups excitedly and enthusiastically discussed and shared how they are using U-report, what challenges they were facing, how U-report can be used to transform the Community, how best the youth can be engaged in causing social change, what community issues they would want U-report to discuss, and the achievements/ best practices so far registered. Interestingly these group discussions brought out amazing answers, ideas and strategies, for example; about transformation of the community, the groups suggested that the recruitment and involvement of relevant sub county, district and national leaders/service providers as U-reporters would allow for easier access to and sharing of information with them on what needs attention in the community, while leading by example or U-reporters being role models, that is taking action to solve community issues say cleaning water points, clearing drainage systems would also foster community transformation. On the other hand the participants highlighted going to those places where youths hang out the most; places of worship, bars, cinema halls, libraries, market places, and foot ball pitches as one sure strategy of reaching, recruiting and engaging more youths.
U-reporters at the Conference
In addition to this, the U-reporters revealed that they had used U-report to share information received with the communities during meetings or one on one, and also used it to report on what is happening in their communities to their leaders. Several achievements were also shared. They included; increased awareness on the importance of immunization and birth certificates and how these can be accessed. U-reporters form Buikwe, Kalungu, Masaka, Mpigi, Kiruhura Districts to mention but a few were glad to note that more children have been immunized and more people have processed and accessed their certificates since the U-report messages and their continued sensitization of the communities about the same. Other achievements include increased awareness on the dangers and prevention of HIV/AIDS, and restoration of hope amongst the youth, that they too matter, can be heard and also contribute to the decision making processes of this country.
On a sad note though, the U-reporters pointed out that they were facing a number of challenges that are affecting their work. These include poor road and telecommunication network. The U-reporter from Kaabong District revealed that the poor road network limits them from going to deep/far villages to share and also recruit U-reporters while the U-reporter from Kanungu revealed that some messages are received 2- 3 days from the day they were sent or they do not even receive any at all for weeks. The same applies to the response they send, they at times hang, delay to be delivered or at worst bounce back. Other challenges were language barrier. U-report is still largely using English and the lack of phones by most active upcountry youths.

Speaking for U-report/UNICEF, Caroline Barebwoha the U-report Partnership Consultants and Erik  Frisk the U-report Project Manager thanked U-reporters for turning up for the conference and above all for their continued interest in reporting, responding to polls and recruiting more U-reporters.
Erik and other U-reporters pose for a photo with Peter Miles and Miss Uganda
Caroline noted that U-report was piloted in Uganda but because of it’s impact in causing social change and engaging the Youth other countries like Burundi, Zambia and South Sudan had also started it and are continuously inspired by the reports from Uganda.
She was glad to note that one of the U-report partners Conrad Natse of Uganda Scouts Association had in May 2013 recruited the World Bank boss Ban Ki-moon during his visit in the Country. And that the World Bank boss was amazed at this innovative and engaging platform. Carol encouraged the U-reporters to continue reporting for their ideas were being heard , shared  and recognized both nationally and internationally; explaining that U-report in June 2013 was nominated for the annual 3rd innovation communication awards and was also this year selected to present youth issues in the recently concluded post 2015 MDG consultations.
In addition to this, Erik expressed amazement at the U-report initiative. “It is a mind blowing thing” Erik said. Knowing that over 219,676 youths and citizens can share ideas and speak out on what is happening in their communities at no cost and also be linked to their leaders for action gives enough hope that social change can be achieved. Erik said U-reporters are the makers of the music without whom the platform can’t achieve much or will have nothing to amplify. “You guys make this happen, what you do makes all the sense in the world, just keep on doing it- Send that text to 8500 ” he appealed.
Other key participants at the Conference were the U-report partners, Rwenzori Information Centres Network (RIC-NET), Girls Education Movement (GEM), Uganda Scouts Association, Marie Stopes, Uganda Girl Guides Association.  These organized and coordinated the conference and also facilitated the different sessions.  Over 70 U-reporters participated in this conference.

Lillian Mbabazi rocking with the U-reporters at the Conference
Lillian Mbabazi rocking with the U-report Boss Erik at the Conference