Nordic Folkecenter Visits JEEP Folkecenter in Uganda

By Gitte Davidsen and Lene Høgh

Nordic Folkecenter visits JEEP Uganda Folkecenter - 2023

Nordic Folkecenter’s volunteer Lene Høgh and Sustainability Manager Gitte Davidsen were in November 2023 on a monitoring visit to Uganda in connection with our CISU-supported project Climate Action for Improved & Sustainable Livelihoods (CAISL).

CAISL is a collaboration between Nordic Folkecenter for Sustainable Energy, JEEP Folkecenter (Joint Energy and Environment Projects) and Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development (UCSD)

Uganda is a country in East Africa with a population of 45.85 million.

Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy has had a collaboration with JEEP Folkecenter since 2005 

JEEP Folkecenter is located on the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda’s capital. 

After arriving in Uganda, we traveled to Nebbi district, which is located in northwestern Uganda. 

We visited the CAISL project’s office in Nebbi, saw the new motorbikes that are used to solve the tasks in the district and met the project’s Field workers Carol and Patricia.

Local Advocacy towards public leaders

We visited the Deputy CAO (Chief Administrative Officer), which is the government’s representative in the district and in the Nebbi Sub-county we visited the SAS (Senior Assistant Secretary = CAO at that level). Everyone was very positive about the CAISL project.

We also visited the Atego Sub-county and the Atego SEED Secondary School, which has now received the first LED installation with lights in two classrooms. They are excited about their light, which in the evening can be seen throughout the area. The school’s chairman of the board and the headmaster took the opportunity to ask about the possibility of charging mobile phones as well and of getting light from the school to the teachers’ residences and to the students’ dormitories. There are many snakes in the area and it is difficult to move around the school when it is dark.

We also visited the school that received an institutional stove from the EASE&CA project, to remind them that it should also be available to other schools that need similar stoves.

Advocacy training for managers

We participated in a full day training on advocacy in the town of Nebbi, together with 20 – 25 heads of organizations and cultural leaders. Richard and David from UCSD had prepared good teaching material and went through presentations on laws and rights. Then, we participated in a workshop where there were presentations and role plays. The participants were very engaged and had a great desire to take action quickly. In addition, the Chief Administrative Officer and the government’s representative came and gave a presentation. The primary problems identified were cutting down trees for charcoal, bush burning and climate change, for example in the form of the changed pattern of the rainy season, which prevented them from sowing new crops and thus also not being able to harvest again.

Advocacy training of TOTs

Furthermore, training was held for TOTs (Trainers-of-trainers) who will go out and teach; it was also Richard and David from UCSD who oversaw this training, to which 60 – 70 people participated. Everything was interpreted and exemplified in the form of stories. There was great astonishment that environmental laws existed and that it was reasonable to demand compliance with the them. There was great and lively participation in group works and in presentations, in the form of role plays. We were interviewed by a local radio and then we set up an “Energy Hub” at a market. An Energy Hub is a stand with informative material on energy and sustainability, which is installed next to a market, so that more people can be reached.

Visit to the Ministry

Ruth, Sylivia, Zeus, Lene and Gitte visited Dr. Callist Tindimugaya, Commissioner (Director) and Ministry of Water and Environment, where we talked about recognition of JEEP and potential projects between JEEP and the Ministry.

Visit to Makerere University Business School, Department of Energy Science & Technology

We had a conversation about both current and potential future collaborationswith Dr. Mukisa Nicholas, Dr. Paul Nduhuura and Dr. Ruth Atuhaire, PhD (Head of Department and Associate Professor at Makerere University Business School, Department of Energy Science & Technology). JEEP and Makerere Business School have a cooperation agreement and they would like to send students for practical training at JEEP. JEEP needs workshop facilities.

In the Kampala area, we visited the Grace High School, where the beginning of the “Beyond Tree Planting” initiative took place in connection with JEEP’s TESS (Transition to Sustainable Solutions). We also visited the house of Ben Ssekemate (JEEP’s board chairman), where we saw the first installed biogas of JEEP’s. CAISL’s first 3 month report was reviewed with Prossie who is the Monitoring & Evaluation Officer at JEEP.

At JEEP, Lene and Gitte taught the UN’s 17 global goals and their content, their significance in relation to sustainability and their relationship to the project. Furthermore, overall project understanding and funding were taught.

The Accountability Dialogue Tool was reviewed with Sylivia.

We also agreed with Florian, an Artefact volunteer at JEEP, that he will be in charge of a new series of cooking tests (and related documentation) to be carried out with the Sun Generator. These tests will be carried out both during the rainy and the dry season and they will be documented in a report. He will also help Prossie and others to develop new systems for recording data in connection with projects. 

Renewable Energy Conference 2023 & EXPO

Lene participated together with JEEP to the Renewable Energy Conference 2023 & Expo, which took place on 16 – 18 November. . JEEP’s stand was next to the one of the Green Ambassadors Club, which also housed YLEC (youth from the EAP project). JEEP had an active and colorful department with many visitors, where the replica of the LED school lighting was hung and exhibited. The employees learned to stand up and be outgoing, and not just to sit and wait for passers-by to show interest.

On the 1st day, Ruth (JEEP) was in a 5-person panel titled “Clean cooking industry trends in Africa: past, present and the future outlook and perspectives”. During the discussion, she called for realistic interventions that match with the energy needs of the majority of the Ugandan citizens. “What is needed is to disseminate local solutions that are relevant, affordable, accessible and environmentally sound to manage Uganda’s current and future energy demand“, she said.

On the 2nd day, Richard (UCSD) led a panel titled ”Civil society and Shaping the Energy Transition Discourse: Legacy and Prospects” with interesting questions that guided the panel discussion. The goal was to look ahead as a CSO and define which messages should be addressed to the Government of Uganda, Development Actors, and the Private Sector.

During the 3rd day, Sarah, who has been active in JEEP for all her adult life, was in a panel where experiences were discussed. Her presentation took place in Lugandan language.

The primary purpose of the CAISL project

See also the project’s web page: 

Combating climate change and building community resilience through sustainable energy solutions is the main purpose of the CAISL project. To achieve this, extensive training and demonstrations of concrete examples of sustainable energy solutions are carried out.

There is a focus on educating and training the local community in targeted local advocacy, with the long-term goal of achieving national advocacy for climate change and sustainable energy solutions.

CAISL is focusing on the Nebbi District (ND), located in Northern Uganda, and it aims at making it a JEEP model district in climate mitigation measures. The project also focuses on building community resilience, accessibility to eco-friendly solutions and advocacy skills. The intervention has a particular focus on the participation of young people and women.

To achieve these goals, Trainers of Trainers (TOTs) from the previous intervention (EASE & CA) will collaborate with JEEP in hands-on training.

TOTs from JEEP and UCSD will be trained at organizational level in the Nebbi District. Their goal will be to build effective advocacy organizations using evidence-based argumentation and strengthening positive dialogue. The purpose is to secure support and commitment from local politicians.

In the project; there will be various activities, including awareness raising, establishment of mobile Energy hubs and training of members of community-based organizations (CBOs) in cooking, solar energy and tree planting.