Ugandan Village Economy
Most of those who live in Ruhanga are subsistence farmers growing enough local produce for their own needs with, occasionally, some left over to sell at market or in roadside stalls (above) to pay for those extra essentials such as medicines and education for their children as well as lifts into nearby towns such at Ntungamo or for hospital appointments at nearby Itojo hospital. Although poverty in Uganda has been decreasing year on year ~ down from 56% of the population in 1992 to 24.5% today ~ the actual number of people in poverty has increased due to population growth. As such, some eight million people in Uganda live below the international poverty line of 74p a day and according the the most recently available data from 2014, Uganda ranks 164th among 187 countries in the world's Human Development Index
(dropping three places from the previous survey in 2012) placing it firmly in the Low Human Development category.
Now it should be remembered that everything is much cheaper in Uganda and those in rural communities such as Ruhanga live on family homesteads without any rent or taxes to pay; there is no electricity nor water charges, cooking is undertaken with freely gathered local brushwood and most food is grown in the family garden. As such, families can often get by until something goes wrong such as illness or something essential like a pot or pan becomes unusable. If a working adult becomes ill, maybe through malaria or a water borne disease, they cannot support their family and this will usually trigger a crisis. Such a crisis can have a cascade effect with children being pulled from school, lowering their chances of educational success and opportunity to have their secondary education subsidised by the government in return for good grades in their PLEs (Primary Leaving Exams) ~ a certificate that can influence opportunities for children for the rest of their lives as even employers normally ask to see the certificate before offering a job.
As such the economy of Ruhanga is frail as it is in most rural African communities.
Alarmingly, given the village's reliance on its banana plantations (with bananas accounting for more than 30% of Ugandans' daily calorie intake), Uganda has, in recent years, seen the banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW) disease sweep through the country destroying banana trees and contaminating the soil endangering food security. If the disease took hold in Ruhanga the entire community would be at risk. Efforts being made to develop a new type of banana resistant to the disease have been hampered by the government banning GM crops in Uganda.
In addition to subsistence farming some of the villagers in Ruhanga grow coffee which is sold to local traders for overseas processing as Uganda lacks the infrastructure to undertake the processing on a countrywide scale. Others make pottery or weave baskets and mats. Most of the villagers are highly enterprising as the video
right (with apologies for the sound quality) shows two local Ruhanga lads describing their mudfish breeding project that they have set up to earn a few extra shillings here and there.
Other employment opportunities include working for the local government (Ntungamo District), taxi driving including Boda Bodas (motorcycles), health care at Itojo Hospital and infrastructure work such as rebuilding the Kampala~Kalaba Highway. Some are also engaged in
pig breeding and traditional brick making ~ creating bricks from mud by placing wet mud into a wooden frame to shape the bricks then firing them until hard.
(See above.) Visitors and tourists staying at Ruhanga can
help the local economy by buying locally rather than buying at
home and bringing it with them. ~ and there really is so much you
can buy locally from flip flops, sandals, clothes, food, alcohol,
cigarettes, sweets etc.