KAMPALA, Uganda – As part of our ongoing REALISE Project on child labour intervention in Uganda, the Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO), with the support of the ECLT Foundation, organised a 5-day workshop in April to train team members of Alliance One International, a tobacco leaf supplier company and member of the ECLT Foundation Board. The workshop focused on the “good practice” of implementing Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) to help combat child labour. The VSLA methodology is currently being implemented in the Hoima District (Western Uganda), where the ECLT Foundation identified existing best practices and contributed to the adoption of a District Action Plan Against Child Labour by key stakeholders in May 2016. Through the training, 51 employees and Alliance One leaf technicians acquired knowledge and skills to guide their contracted farmers in VSLA formation; this is part of a wider company effort to address child labour in the communities where Alliance One operates.
The VSLA methodology
The VSLA methodology is a savings-based financial service that helps facilitate the mobilisation of group member savings. When VSLA members pool their savings, they are thereby able to offer credit and insurance services to each other. This practice provides impoverished communities with simple and needed financial services – communities often in remote areas and out of reach of any commercial banks. In many countries, including Uganda, this intervention has been implemented to address the gaps that exist within the microfinance sector. This has been proven to increase incomes and livelihoods, and to reduce the prevalence of child labour as outlined in the ECLT Foundation’s Good Practice Manual.
Acquiring VSLA knowledge and skills
The interactive and practical training included simulation exercises and a field visit through which participants:
- acquired knowledge and skills pertaining to VSLA principles, best practices, procedures and governance;
- learnt how to mobilise communities;
- became familiar with training materials and reporting tools; and
- became sensitised on how they can best share the lessons.
The trained leaf technicians can now offer their services to groups on a long-term, fee-for-service basis.
The creation of VSLAs with Alliance One leaf technicians will contribute to tobacco-growing communities’ awareness about child labour, the improvement of children’s livelihoods, and, hopefully, it will contribute to breaking the vicious cycle of poverty in Hoima.
You can find a success story about VSLAs in Uganda here.