Thursday, December 22, 2011

ICOD's Best Staff 2011

December 19, 2011 marked the end of the year at ICOD Action Network. What a successful year! We all worked as team, worked hard and remained committed throughout the year. But one person emerged as the best. The ICT Department (Lyantonde Internet Center) was the best department and Ariho Adam (IT Administrator) was voted as the best staff 2011 by our staff and customers. Congratulations Adam.

End of year meeting on December 19, 2011

Adam receiving his Award

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2011 HIV/AIDS Youth Camp begins

We are proud to inform you that our first HIV/AIDS Youth Camp has began today in Lyantonde Uganda, East Africa. A collaboration between ICOD Action Network and our partners Lyantonde Network of People Living Aids, "Youth against HIV/AIDS" camp will focus on training youth in HIV/AIDS prevention and raise their awareness of the pandemic, train youth in life skills and build their capacity and skills to take part in community development projects. We expect about 150 to attend. Watch out for more news, stories and pictures from the Camp.

www.icoduganda.org

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

HIV/Aids stigma fuelling mother-to-child infection

Sustained stigma continues to undermine the fight against the HIV/Aids scourge and remains a major cause of mother- to-child infection in Uganda, activists have said.
The plight of thousands of mothers and children affected by it, lingers on as Uganda today joins the rest of the world to mark the World Aids Day.

The story of Adriane Akankunda, offers an eloquent illustration of experiences of thousands of children born with HIV. She holds her mother tightly as though to ease the pain caused by the soars in her mouth and rashes on her neck. Akankunda, just three-years-old, contracted HIV from her mother, who fearing stigma, weaned her after six months “because she was afraid people will know that she is positive.” HIV-positive mothers are advised to wean their babies after three months to prevent the transmission of the disease.

Ms Gloria Ahimbisibwe, Akankunda’s mother, explaining her daughters condition says: “I think she looks like that because she has not yet started taking ARVs, the doctor says that she is not yet fit for ARVs so at the moment she is still on septrine.”

Daily infections

As the world commemorates World Aids Day today under the theme, “Getting to Zero” with three targets of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero Aids-related deaths, Uganda is still grappling with the fight against pediatric HIV whose major cause is mother-to-child transmission.

Statistics show that more than 1,000 children contract HIV from their mothers daily.
Dr Godfrey Esiru, the national coordinator of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) in the Ministry of Health, says unprotected sexual intercourse with an HIV -infected person is the cause of 80 per cent of the HIV cases in Uganda.

A journalist guide on pediatric HIV from Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation and Star South West, shows that more than 90 per cent of the HIV infections in children in Uganda result from mother-to-child transmission.

Dr Esiru said out of 1.5 million pregnant mothers, 96,000 of them are infected and because of no interventions, 30 per cent of these mothers infect their children leading to 27,000 infected babies every year where two-third of them die before three years.

While a number of prevention measures such as male circumcision and Abstinence, Being faithful and Condom (ABC) use, have been in place to fight HIV and eliminate pediatric HIV by 2015, statistics show that Uganda is not making any significant improvement.

A report on the status of Paediatric HIV in Uganda indicates that by 2008, Uganda registered 25,000 children with new cases of HIV.

Minimal trials for child vaccines

By 2010, 22,000 new infections were registered and these were due to mother-to-child transmission.

Dr Moses Walakila, the technical Director at Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric Aids Foundation, Paediatric HIV mostly pronounced in upcountry areas where few families access family planning.

“So even in cases where a couple knows that they are positive and thus do not want to conceive any more, the fact that they have no access to family planning, they will conceive and lack of knowledge on how to help such a mother at birth by nurses will easily lead to the passing on of the virus to the baby,” he explains.

Mr Paul Mayende from Baylor-Uganda said the greatest challenge to the prevention of mother-to-child infection is the absence of available services.

“Much as over 1,500 health facilities can provided prevention of mother to child transmission services, only about 30 per cent of expectant mothers deliver from a health facility. This implies that majority of the mothers giving birth from other places other than the health facilities have their infants exposed to HIV.”

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November Food Security Workshop

This month's food security training workshop was in Kyewanula Village. Attended by 26 farmers, ICOD Action Network Staff trained local farmers groups in basic permaculture design and farmer's group dynamics and team work. Our training workshops always begin with a video show from different parts of the world that have been transformed through sustainable agriculture practices. This month's video was DIRT. Farmers later took part in brainstorming ideas on how a community demonstration garden will be designed.
Pictures: Seva Gandhi

Friday, October 21, 2011

ICOD Action Network and Project Focus on Global Activism Series again

(From wbez.org website)

Combatting HIV-AIDS and poverty in Lyantonde, Uganda

Every Thursday on Global Activism, we hear from a local individual who works to make the world a better place.

Ahabwe Michael is executive director of the ICOD Action Network, based in the Lyantonde district of southwestern Uganda. His organization responds to socioeconomic challenges in his society like HIV/AIDS, high unemployment, insufficient health care, poor sanitation and famine. He says he began his work because he wanted make a difference.

Listen to the show on this link http://goo.gl/AI7WZ

Thanks for your continued support.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Food security: challenges, Solutions and Good Practices

(Extracted from Ahabwe Mugerwa Michael's Presentation at the Jane Addams Hull house Museum- University of Illinois Chicago on October 11, 2011)

Introduction:

Achieving food security continues to be a challenge not only for the developing nations, but also for the developed world. The difference lies n the magnitude of the problem in terms of its severity and proportion of the population affected. Food security has major three aspects: food availability, food access and food adequacy.

Food security is a situation in which all people at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active healthy life. Food security is affected by a complexity of factors; these include, unstable social and political environments that preclude sustainable economic growth, war and civil strife, macroeconomic imbalances in trade, natural resource constraints, poor human resource base, gender inequality, inadequate education, poor health, natural disasters such as floods and locust infestations and the absence of good governance. All these factors contribute to either insufficient national food security availability or insufficient access to food by households and individuals.

While the rest of the world has made significant progress towards food security and poverty alleviation, Sub Saharan Africa, Uganda in particular continues to lag behind. Many factors have contributed to this including the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, civil war, strive and poor governance, frequent drought and famine, and agricultural dependency on the climate and environment. ( Uganda is currently experiencing famine and food shortages in Eastern and Northern Uganda and Its estimated that the country looses approximately $245,666,666 due to malnutrition. Source; Uganda national Academy of Science report). Despite the reoccurring famine cases in the country, government has not taken major policy changes that target all people in the agriculture sector.

Challenges to food security in rural Uganda.

1. Underdeveloped Agricultural Sector.

Over reliance on primary agriculture, environmental degradation, significant food crop loss due to post -harvest and minimal value addition are some of the major challenges to agriculture in Africa. Over 99% of the food in Uganda is grown under rain-fed agriculture, which makes food production vulnerable to adverse weather conditions.

2. Barriers to market Access

Access to markets is another huddle that smallholder farmers face. There is poor infrastructure and barriers in penetrating the market caused by limited resources, lack of information, lack of or inadequate support institutions and poor policies among others.

3. Disease and Infection.

Disease and infections continue to plague entire African continent. Disease like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS not only reduce the man-hours available to agriculture and household food acquisition, but also increase the burden of households in acquiring food. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ( FAO), estimates that by 2020 the epidemic will claim the lives of 20% or more of the population working in agriculture in many Southern African Countries . NB: Agriculture contributes to 79.6% of the total labor force in Uganda.

How food security can be achieved.

1. Nutritional interventions for the poor to reduce effects of malnutrition’s on the poor and sick. NB: food production makes nutritious food available.

2. Facilitating market access: there is need to remove the barriers to trade for African economies so that the people can benefit.

3. Rural off-farm opportunities. These can include industries engaging in value addition, providing credit, market facilitation. These will increase opportunities for the poor when they are no their farmers and reduce rural-urban migration making farm labor available. NB: Uganda’s agriculture addition growth is estimated at only 5.11% and farm tractor use at 0.7%

4. Capacity building: free access to education, research and development, access to capital and infrastructure so that communities can be empowered to produce enough food.

5. Gender sensitive development. Policy makers should work to address gender issues in agriculture and build women’s capacity to make decisions that affect them. E.g Women contribute approximately 80% of agriculture labor force and control less than 10% of resources at household level. According to a 2000 International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) study, agriculture is the main source of income for rural households in Uganda. It is also the main occupation of women. Nationwide, 72% of all employed women and 90% of all rural women work in agriculture.

6. Demonstration sites / technology development site. These offer onsite training to farmers, are avenues for research and provide an opportunity for a farmers-learn by doing approach which is very important in empowering rural farming communities.

7. Good governance. All strategies work in a secure and corruption free environment. Governments should delink political interests to the needs of the people like access to adequate and nutritious food.

ICOD Action Network and Project Focus’s approach to build a sustainable community food systems.

1. Permaculture training. This project trains rural farmers to consciously design and maintain agriculture productive ecosystems. The project integrates environment and people, energy, shelter and other material and non material farmer needs in a sustainable way. 137 farmers have been so far been trained in permaculture.

2. Increasing farmer’s access to agricultural information. We opened a solar powered information center, which is being used to implement an information-sharing project through information technology. Under this project, 5 community groups are taking part information sharing project. Trained farmers engage communities in discussion about key agricultural issues and them look for information from the Internet which they post in their respective communities so that they can be accessed by all community members. Information about agriculture, good farming methods, weather, markets, pests and disease is now easily shared among communities.

3. Training. This is a key component in all our agriculture and food security projects.


Monday, October 3, 2011

You're Invited

Ahabwe Michael, founder of ICOD Action Network, our local partner in Lyantonde, Uganda, will be visiting us here in Chicago!

While here, Michael will be an honored guest speaker at the Jane Addams Hull House food activism series, Re-Thinking Soup. His presentation will include thoughts on how rural African communities can be a leading source of the world’s health food supplies if respective governments make technical and policy adjustments. He will also discuss the importance of access to healthy and sustainable foods in rural communities, as well as ICOD Action Network's use of the Lyantonde Internet Center to promote agriculture information and training within the Lyantonde community.

Please join us for this thought-provoking presentation and a delicious bowl of soup!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011@ 12:00-1:00pm
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
The University of Illinois at Chicago
800 S. Halsted Chicago, IL 60607

Also, Ahabwe Michael has been invited to speak on Worldview with Jerome McDonnell to discuss the continued progress and challenges with the Lyantonde Internet Center. Stay tuned for the date and time of the WBEZ broadcast!
(From Project Focus Blog, september 30, 2011)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ugandan Lawmakers okay controversial HIV/AIDS Bill

In our May 3, 2011 article, we analyzed the impact of the proposed HIV /AIADS Prevention and Control Bill that was before Uganda’s eighth Parliament for debate and passing. We added our voice to a number of international and local NGOs, activists, donors and Uganda’s partners calling for the revision of the entire bill and removal of clauses that criminalize HIV/AIDS spread.

On July 12, 2011 Ugandan law makers resisted pressure and backed the bill despite its consequences of rights of people living with HIV /AIDS and HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness campaigns that have seen the country make tremendous steps towards the.

The 9th Parliament new committee chairperson, Ms Rosemary Najjemba Muyinda was recently reported saying that the bill was in its advanced stages of being passed.

There are several controversial clauses of the bill like a 10 year penalty in jail to individuals that knowingly infect others, criminal prosecution of women who transmit HIV to their infants after birth through breast milk among others.

Lets think about this: Two people: A ( male) and B (female) both have never had HIV test but have unprotected sex. A becomes suspicious and worried and decides to rush to the nearest HIV testing center after 120 days and tests for HIV. Results show that he is HIV positive. He attacks B and drags her to court for infecting him with the deadly HIV/AIDS virus intentionally. Remember B had never had an HIV test before and didn’t know her status before she had unprotected sex with A. How will court determine who infected the other? Are Uganda’s law makers making ignorance of one’s HIV status a crime or making HIV test mandatory?

ICOD Action Network strongly opposes the entire bill because of its consequences on human rights, the bill undermines progress so far made in fighting HIV/AIDS, it legislates for mandatory testing for HIV and forced disclosure of HIV status among other clauses that we think will affect government and civil society efforts to reduce HIV prevalence and new infections rates.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

2011 Half year (January - June) Key Projects Report

Hello partners, donors and friends, we are glad to share with you our 2011 half year report about our key projects / activities. Thanks for your support.

Key Projects / activities

February 2011: House and pit latrine construction Project. The project whose goal is to provide sustainable and appropriate shelter solutions to HIV/AIDS affected households was completed in Kinuuka Sub County. A total of 6 houses and 6 improved pit latrines were constructed in Lyantonde Rural and Kinuuka Sub Counties.

March 2011: Permaculture Training

Permaculture (the word, coined by Bill Mollison, is a portmanteau of permanent agriculture and permanent culture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people — providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order. The organization recently adopted the approach in all its agriculture related projects. In March 2011 one of our staff attended the Permaculture Design Course in Kenya and we hosted True Nature Design from USA that facilitated permaculture trainings in Kyewanula and Lwensinga Villages Lyantonde Rural Sub County. A total 137 participants attended the 2 days training.

March 2011: Women’s Group savings and credit project: This is a new project we are piloting with two women’s groups Wabusana Parish Kinuuka Sub County. The project goal is to increase group savings and reduce vulnerability of women and children.

April 2011: Anti corruption. This new project aims advocating for a corruption free community through community awareness. We have started identifying community volunteers from the already existing volunteer base. This project targets local leaders and community’s members. Community members shall be trained in detecting, reporting and following corruption related cases and shall also be equipped with skills in monitoring community development projects implemented in their areas. Projects that are implemented by government and local governments like districts are always characterized by corruption in the award of contracts, procurement and implementation of such projects. When communities are trained in detecting and reporting corruption, a lot shall be achieved in reducing corruption and its undesired effects in the community.

May 2011: HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS programming aims at reducing rates of HIV/AIDS prevalence, infection and effects of opportunistic infections among the victims. The organization recently started partnering with Lyantonde Network of People Living with Aids. Both organizations have adopted a Joint HIV and AIDS Action Plan for 2011 which will lead to HIV/AIDS projects being implemented in amore effective and sustainable manner.

ICT training for farmers (Ongoing)

Selected farmer's group members (Community Information Agents) are being trained in computer and Internet use, and collect information that the community group has requested from the Internet. Information related to agriculture, markets, crop diseases , HIV/AIDS and modern farming methods is retrieved from the internet, repackaged in local languages and shared with respective communities. Community Information Agents have been very instrumental in mobilizing communities for change.

Key Partners

Project Focus - Chicago

Program for Accessible Health, Communication and Health (PACE)

Rakai Community Aids Organization (RACOBAO)

Lyantonde Hospital

Lyantonde Moslem Supreme Council Hospital

Lyantonde Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS

Kampala University

University Bible Fellowship Uganda

Lyantonde District Local Government

Lyantonde District NGO Forum

Plans for July - December 2011

We hope to implement the following projects/ activities during the last half of the year (July – December).

- Conduct HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns

- Build capacity of Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS so that they can be able implement HIV/AIDS projects.

- Construct ferro-cement tanks in selected sub counties of Lyantonde district

- Strengthen Community Information sharing systems through access to ICT.

- Carry out 6 community permaculture trainings.

- Take part in Lyantonde NGO Forum activities.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lightening stricking across Uganda, kills 23 school children and injures many.

Uganda has suffered devastating lightning strikes in the last two weeks which have left more than 30 people dead in the past one week.

At least 21 people perished on Tuesday 28th June when lightning struck three locations in different parts of Uganda. By 10:00pm on Tuesday night, 17 pupils and one student teacher had been pronounced dead by medics at Kiryandongo hospital, 210km north of Kampala when lighting struck their classroom. By today evening 6 more pupils have been confirmed dead as several were referred to Mulago National Referral hospital for more specialized medical attention.

Two other deaths have been reported in Eastern Uganda. Lightning struck a village in Sironko district killing a 58 year old man identified as Hassan Wandulu, Mr Aramanzan Dongo in Mpogo in Sironko was also struck at about 3.00pm during a heavy down pour accompanied by hail stones on Tuesday evening. Lightning strikes also spread to Karamoja region striking a school in Kotido district, killing one pupil and injuring another instantly. One woman was also injured in Lyantonde District.

Lightning Safety Measures

According to Meteorologists, when inside a building, avoid use of telephones, taking a shower, washing your hands, doing dishes, or any contact with conductive surfaces with exposure to the outside such as metal door or window frames, electrical wiring, telephone wiring, cables, TV wiring, plumbing, etc. Avoid taking shelter under a tree since lighting often strikes the highest spot in an area. Ducking below a tall tree is definitely not a good idea since you’ll probably be struck at the same time. The best solution is to crouch, in a fetal position, only vertical, and to stand on your toes, the idea being to minimize the contact area with the ground.

You should also lose all metal objects like watches, lighters, belt buckles and metallic jewelry.

The ideal hiding place is a car because its body has a wide surface area, thus dissipating the electrical current and acting like a protective cage. But one should avoid contact with metals while in the car and all windows should be rolled up. Schools and tall buildings should install a lightning rod.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

ICOD Action Network consolidates HIV/AIDS partnerships.

In all projects, we work in close consultations with partners, stakeholders and beneficiaries to ensure effective implementation and sustainability. This year we are continuing to identify partners to work with. We have also been approached by several other organizations that want to partner with us. On 16, 2011 we made a bigger stride towards consolidating partnerships in the HIV/AIDS Sector. We hosted several Organizations that we shall be working with to implement HIV/AIDS projects in Lyantonde. Representatives from Program for Accessible Health, Communication and Health (PACE), Rakai Community Aids Organization (RACOBAO), Lyantonde Hospital, Lyantonde Moslem Supreme Council Hospital and Lyantonde Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS attended a round-table discussion meeting at our Lyantonde office.

One of the PACE representatives makes his presentation.

Lyantonde Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS Coordinator (Left) chaired the meeting.

In 2011, we will closely work with all the above NGOs and institutions to raise community awareness on HIV/AIDS so as to reduce on rates of new infections and prevalence, increase community access to Anti Retro vial Drugs, increase mother's access to Anti Natal Care and closely work with HIV Most at Risk Persons (MARPs) like prostitutes, taxi driver and truckers to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS prevention, HIV/AIDS Support Service Centers among others. We think this is a great stride towards achieving an HIV free generation.

A Doctor from Lyantonde Hospital makes her point.



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

ICOD Action Network and Lyantonde Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS to adopt aJoint HIV/AIDS Action Plan

Lyantonde Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS is a association of people who have publically confessed being HIV positive. The association is comprised of over 60 members who come from all the 6 sub counties of Lyantonde District. The Network of PLHAs has been working ICOD Action Network and Project Focus since 2007 when the latter implemented an Art Therapy project in Southwestern Uganda which finally led to the establishment of Lyantonde Internet Center where members of the Network are being trained in ICT and taking part in the Lyantonde information sharing program. The PLHAs Network implements many activities among which include raising community awareness on HIV/AIDS spread and prevention, condom use, male circumcision, training members on positive living and savings and credit and also offers post-infection counseling to members and their families.ICOD Action Network and Lyantonde Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS began discussions on adopting a Joint HIV/AIDS Action Plan. Adopting of a Joint Action Plan will help both organization's achieve HIV/AIDS goals in a more sustainable and effective manner and reduce chances of duplication of activities by either organizations. The first meeting was held on June 1, 2011 at ICOD office in Lyantonde. Another meeting scheduled for June 7, 2011 will discus a draft Joint Action Plan and set goals for 2011.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2011 – 2016; Uganda under President Museveni, corrupt ministers and a partisan parliament.

Uganda dissolved the 8th parliament recently which political commentators described as one the worst in Uganda’s history. Judgment was based on performance, bills passed and the independence of the parliament from other Arms of Government like the executive. The 8th parliament was also characterized by a lot of drama that included some members of the house storming out of the house in protest and other opposition MPs locked out for turning the house into a boxing ring. Several bills weren't passed. The most outstanding bills included the Domestic Relations Bill which as been debated for several decades without being passed, and then; “anti gay bill” was introduced in the 8th parliament.

While some Ugandans, donors and the Civil Society are waiting to start rating the performance of the 9th parliament. I have already started doing my rating. I predict that the 9th Parliament will be the worst house ever. On May 24, 2011 President Museveni who was sworn in for his record 4th presidential term appointed two of the countries best lawyers Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi and Amama Mbabazi as his Vice President and Prime Minister respectively. The appointments were a surprise to many who were eagerly waiting to see who makes it to the next cabinet. If these two, Mr Ssekandi and Mbabazi were the only ones who make up the 9th house and cabinet, I am one of those that believe we would have a best house. Unfortunately, they will work alongside the parliament where ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) has 145 members, the opposition has only 50 members and 29 NRM-leaning independents. This is why I think the 9th parliament and cabinet will be the worst.

1. The (NRM) party has 145 members while the opposition has only 50 members. Still almost all the 26 independents are NRM supporters. To me, this means that the opposition in parliament will be an exact description the NRM calls them; the “shadow opposition” The opposition will again resort to fighting with fists and throwing shoes at NRM members to make their voices

2. The Leader of Opposition in the 8th parliament lost in the previous elections and will not part of the 9th house. Professor Ogenga Latigo was not only respected the NRM as an intelligent parliamentarian but he stood by his position throughout the 8th parliament and provided the best guidance the opposition needed. None of the current opposition members of parliament are any closer in quality to Professor Ogenga Latigo. I don't think the opposition will benefit much from their next leader in the 9th house.

3. The 9th parliament is still dominated by NRM members some of whom have been in parliament since 1996 and whom the whole world saw being bribed with app.$2000 each to scrap presidential term limits to allow president Museveni stand for his 3rd term. As soon the MP for Lyantonde’s Kabula county Mr James Kokooza was declared winner of the hotly contested elections, he called the press and announced that he going to table a bill in the 9th parliament that seeks to increase presidential term limits from 5 years to 7 years (Mr. Kakooza came to the limelight after spearheading the scrapping to presidential term limits from the constitution back in mid 2000s. He is back in style this time; huh!) If the bill is passed and President Museveni decides to seek reelection in 2016, he will be president till 2023; King Muswati style!

4. Most of the NRM ministers who have been implicated in big corruption scandals in 2007 and 2008 were members of the 8th parliament or held important cabinet posts. They are likely to retain their ministerial positions or be rewarded with new ministries for mobilizing masses to vote Mr. Museveni. What will happen to the ministries to which they have been rewarded?

5. The 9th parliament will not pass the Domestic Relations Bill which most Civil Society Organization and women right activists are calling for to be passed. Despite having the first female Speaker, it should noted that she subscribes to the NRM and is one of the top NRM cadres. The Domestic Relations bill which has for long been criticized by the Islamic faith and male parliamentarians on grounds that it will disempower them is likely not to be passed because the NRM will not comprise with the little support it gets from the Moslem community.

6. The 9th parliament is likely to pass more laws that impact human rights and freedoms of citizens. Mr. Museveni has already made it clear that he will ask parliament to amend the constitution to deny demonstrators bail for a period of six months. Civil Society organizations and the opposition have already objective the president’s strategy that seeks to keep in prison opposition members of parliament but I think the constitution shall be amended since NRM has the numbers in parliament

7. The Anti-gay bill: This controversial bill tabled by Hon. David Bahati in the 8th parliament is likely to be passed in the 9th parliament. Despite intense international criticism, the bill will be passed by the 9th parliament. The NRM caucus shall sit and decide to pass the bill and it will be passed in a couple of days despite the many human rights implications the bill will have a section of Ugandans and none Ugandans who have out and declared they are gay.

Can we make the 9the Parliament better?

This is what I think can make 9th parliament better more independent.

1. If the Speaker and her deputy who are both NRM cadres must put their party’s interests aside and serve the nation.

2. Parliament stops amending constitution interests of the ruling NRM party.

3. All bills stabled before parliament shouldn’t be passed until consultation with all stakeholders and partners are made.

4. The opposition must get a competent Leader of Opposition in parliament. This isn’t likely to happen because Besigye has also adopted Museveni style of appointing people to key Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party positions. So don’t be surprised if he also appoints his successor.

5. And, the anti-gay bill should not even be tabled before parliament for debate as it appears now. Clauses that impact the rights of gays must be addressed first or the bill be thrown out.

Ahabwe Mugerwa Michael

Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily present the views of ICOD Action Network or staff. All views herein are ideas of the writer.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Criminal Liability for the Transmission of HIV/AIDS is Counter- Productive:

The HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill 2009 has been tabled for the 1st reading in Parliament today. Among others, the Bill provides for criminal penalty for risk and intentional transmission of the virus. If enacted, the proposed law would require mandatory disclosure of one’s HIV status; failure of which would be regarded as ‘criminal’ and attempting to or, intentionally transmitting the virus. Failure to use a condom where one knows their HIV status would constitute a criminal offence making them liable for prosecution.
Given the history of this country and it’s undoubted, contribution to the HIV struggle that was all inclusive of local communities, religious institutions, civil society, private sector and Development Partners; why would government or any progressive citizen consider this proposed law as an effective tool of responding to the epidemic now?
It was a call to all Ugandans for a united effort, openness in addressing the epidemic, clear and consistent messages, and stewardship by his Excellency the President that reduced incidence levels and won the country global recognition. Disappointingly now, some Government leaders, perhaps frustrated by stagnant prevalence rates, are instead considering a punitive law with a veiled hope that it would prevent and control the epidemic.
Instituting criminal laws to punish persons who may or may not transmit HIV virus poses a danger to the consolidated effort and lessons learnt over time. It is difficult to see the rationale underlying the intended legislation. In strategic terms, this bill is likely to have a counterproductive effect by stalling ongoing efforts at best and increasing infection rates at worst.
The Civil Society HIV Bill Coalition is troubled with some provisions in the proposed legislation and this is why:

1. The law when enacted will drive people underground; in the face of possible prosecution and forced disclosure, most people will hide away, there would be no reason to take an HIV test in fear of prosecution.

2. It shall be counter-productive - as people shun HIV services and treatment for all possible fears that arise with the provisions of the law, prevention and control cannot be achieved. Taking an HIV test is the beginning point for both control and prevention, however the Bill will deter this effort by empowering medical practitioners to release test results to third parties.

3. It will indiscriminately harass women – most women get to know their HIV status before their male counterparts as they interface with medical facilities more often. Giving them an extra burden to disclose their status mandatorily as a blanket requirement may subject them to violence, abandonment and abuse as they are usually blamed for bringing the virus. In our societies, women cannot easily negotiate sex nor condom use, yet failure to use one while they know their status will warrant such a woman punishment for intentional transmission of the HIV virus.

4. May breakdown families who are already vulnerable. Opening a window for prosecution will encourage family breakdowns where one partner who gets to know their status, blames it on the other and files a case in court. Intentional transmission may never get proved, but the family structure will have been distorted, partners desert each other with the consequent burden born by the poor orphans. HIV status is bad enough for the children but humiliating and sometimes vicious litigation between parents tears their lives apart.

5. Is not situation-specific or realistic: the conditions for this law to operate are not realistic, it is extremely difficult to prove who infected the other and therefore it is to no effect. The judiciary in this country is very much strained and it takes long to pass judgment. How many lives would be destroyed if it takes an average 5 to 7 years to get judgment? Worse, the Police force is ineffective and is known to fail to comprehend and prosecute cases of this nature.

6. Selective prosecution: The bill targets the 20% of Ugandans that have tested and know their status and presumes that some of those knowingly and intentionally transmit HIV. What about the rest of the population who do not know their status yet transmit and cannot be found in the ambit of this law? This is unfair, obnoxious and unreasonable and cannot possibly be regarded as an efficacious law.

7. Increased stigma and discrimination. The moment HIV is construed with criminalization and then people go into hiding, those living with HIV will suffer societal victimization since they would now be regarded as threats to public health. As a nation, we can still do better since on this one, we are all in it together.

The fears and risks mentioned above are shared by stakeholders across the spectrum – medical/health workers, human rights activists, Persons Living with HIV, agencies working in this area and the SADC region.
Despite efforts by the Civil Society Coalition to point out the pitfalls in the Bill to, the issue of criminalization has remained.

An effective national legal response is that which is designed to meet specific needs of the country, those that target particular situations that make people vulnerable to HIV and its impact and, use of particular strengths of the country’s people, institutions and experience. An effective response must address the epidemic’s likely consequence on individuals, families and the society’s over all development plans.

Prevention of HIV should be a shared responsibility of those who are positive and know their status and those who are negative or sero-bllind.
This is an urgent call; that if indeed the intention of this bill is to prevent and control HIV, members of Parliament should delete provisions that attract criminal liability.

(This statement has been issued by the joint Civil Society Coalition advocating for an appropriate HIV/AIDS legislation)

ICOD ACTION NETWORK CALLS UPON UGANDA PARLIAMENTARIANS TO DELETE PROVISIONS THAT ATTRACT CRIMINAL LIABILITY BEFORE THE BILL IS PASSED.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bloody protests in Uganda, Face book and Twitter Blocked

Early this month (April), Uganda political parties led by Forum for Democratic Change FDC and civil society organizations launched the Action for Change campaign which includes among other activities a Walk to Work Campaign. The walk to work campaign began on Monday where prominent opposition leaders moved from their homes on foot to their places of work. They have also urged several people to accompany them because of the high fuel and basic needs prices and the fact that government is not doing anything about it.

Government warns and threatens severe action.

The government warned the public against joining the peaceful Walk to Work campaign with threats to crush whoever acted contrary to the law. Monday April 11, saw several people injured including several babies, school children and women. Several opposition activists were clobbered and charged in court for unlawful assembly, disrupting traffic but were latter released on bail . On Thursday April 14, the Walk to Work architects led by FDC’s Kizza Besigye, were on the road again as early as 06:00am. Police used maximum force to stop the campaign but were overpowered by the number of people who formed a ring around the FDC leader and looser in the just concluded general elections which he says was full of irregularities. The FDC president camped a road trench to for over 3 hours to resist arrest.

This woman was working home and was wasn't part of the protesters but was hit by several rubber bullets, its reported that she died immediately after being taken from the scene where this picture was taken. May her soul rest in Eternal Peace

At around 1200 hours, Kizza Begigye got out of the trench and continued his Walk to Work campaign. Along with hundreds of supporters, they came under attack by Military Police who were called in after the police failed to handle the protestors. The FDC present was shot in the hand by a rubber bullet targeted towards him and was rushed to Kampala Hospital.

Lawmakers across the political spectrum, united in blaming the government, and the police leadership in particular, for using violence against opposition leaders and civilians walking to work. The lawmakers said this was an attempt to disguise the national discontent over economic problems.

More Action (Twitter and Face book blocked, media houses banned from live broadcasting)

The government last evening moved to curtail major broadcasting houses when it banned live broadcast of news events around the walk-to-work campaign. April 15 at around 1230 hours, Face book and Twitter were blocked.

Way forward!

1. Is Uganda heading to military state?

2. Has Mr Museveni’s comment to chew Besigye like samosa started to work?( During Museveni’s election victory party in early march, he promised to chew Besigye like a samosa if he tried to cause chaos)

3. Who should we blame for the chaos, loss of lives and property? Police or Besigye’s supporters who are mostly unemployed youth?

4. Is Besigye using Ugandans for his personal interests? Is he an activist or just a greedy politicians like some of him colleagues?

5. Are we yet to see another Egypt, Tunisia , Libya, Yemen and Syria revolution in Uganda?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Permaculture comes to Uganda - Watch Video

The video has inspiring farmer's stories from the permaculture trainings conducted by ICOD Action Network and Project Focus in Southwestern Uganda. The trainings were facilitated by Warren Brush and Daniel Parra Hensel from True Nature Design. Enjoy the video!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Our Website

We have moved our site to a new server, Site40. Its the same good looking site. Please visit http://icoduganda.site40.net/index.html. If you cant access our site, please visit our US based partners site http://projectfocus.org/. Or send inquires to icodprogram@gmal.com.
Thanks.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

We have launched an anti corruption Blog

We have launched an anti corruption Blog . Visit http://yocontralacorrupcion.blogspot.com/ and share your stories, join our mailing list and post on our Blog. Yo contra la corrupciĆ³n is spanish for "Me against corruption". Join the fight NOW

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