Emma and I have headed up north to Gulu this week to get out of the city for the presidential elections currently taking place as many offices have shut down to accommodate workers heading home to their various towns and villages to vote.
I have heard many Ugandans express that they are ready for change and want the current president Museveni’s long-standing leadership to come to an end. However, there are doubts as to whether Museveni will willingly give up his power even if the opposition is able to win enough votes; the presence of corruption has come to be expected – and if this is the case – it will leave many citizens understandably frustrated. Tensions rose on Monday in Kampala when the leader of the opposition Dr. Besigye was arrested in a violent police-heavy scene involving tear gas and one fatality. The following article gives more context to Uganda’s 2016 elections: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/feb/16/uganda-elections-what-you-need-to-know-president-museveni
On a lighter note, we got to start off our elections week hosting an office party at our apartment with the staff from Farm Radio International, an NGO doing some really creative and innovative work with radio programming that provides timely and relevant information serving the interest of small-scale farmers.
FRI programming aims to encourage farmers to adopt new technologies, focuses on innovations in specific crops, and uses an information, communication and technology (ICT) approach to enhance participatory radio practices so that the content reflects the perspectives and interests of the farmers it’s trying to reach. Seriously, they are cool. Check them out: http://www.farmradio.org/
Emma and I are working with FRI to develop a project proposal in partnership with CAP-AIDS Uganda that aims to coordinate “local heroes” responsible for checking in with HIV+ members of the community to ensure they have access to essential health services and supplies and report the data to their district health officer and local partnering radio station who can sound the alarm and issue alerts if services and supplies are not reaching certain communities. The idea is that this can create an interactive platform among stakeholders to address and resolve challenges affecting people living with HIV/AIDS. We hope something can come from this proposal; in the meantime, we really enjoy sharing a workspace and socializing with the FRI team.
Emma and I made it safely to Gulu where we’ll be lying low until after the election results are released on Sunday and we see how the country reacts. Until then, safe voting Ugandans!