By: Lydia Nabbaka (Tukolerewamu Organisation) and Agnes Kabuye (Envirojewels)
After the culmination of the Flow Project, supported by WIEGO under the Uganda Federation for Fair Trade, Home-based Worker leaders got together in 2018 and began planning for a Home-based Workers network in Uganda. An Interim Working Committee made up of seven members was appointed to oversee its creation. These members first began by visiting key regions of the country with the task of mapping Home-based Workers.
Home-based Workers were identified in the following regions: Central, Mpigi and Entebbe, Kayunga and Mukono and Eastern. The workers found in these regions work from their homes in the following areas: organic agricultural practices, horticulture, mushroom growing, fish farming, honey harvesting, basket weaving, craft-making, jewelry-making, tailoring, herbal medicine making, producing leather bags, producing kitenge bags, to name just a few. These products are marketed and sold to earn an income to sustain their livelihoods.
At the end of 2018, activities took place to sensibilize Home-based Workers about their value and rights as workers, as well as organizing efforts so they could start to have collective power. With the expansion in the regions, more Interim Working Committee members were appointed, for a total 19 members, who continued the mapping exercises in the new regions. During 2019, more sensitization activities were taken to all the regions.
In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, members continued to reach out to others through virtual communication and discussed the impact of the pandemic on Home-based Workers. Additionally, they wrote an open statement which was addressed to the government.
In May 2021, during the monthly Working Committee meeting, members discussed and agreed to formalize the Network by registering with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB). Members also agreed to contribute funds for registration through the regions each represented. They divided equally amongst themselves the amount that was required allocated for each region, to make up a total for the registration process. A Registration Committee, made up of four members with consultation from the Working Committee, was appointed to oversee the registration process.
The registration process commenced in June 2021 with the requirement to name the organization. More than five names were submitted; however, they were rejected citing several reasons. By December 2021, it was requested to make new payments to continue with the reservation process.
After a Working Committee meeting in December, members discussed and agreed to contribute again to enable the new payments and seeked the services of a technical officer to process the documentation on behalf of the Network.
With the hired services of a technical officer, they applied with a new name: Ngalo Buwereza Organization LTD, which was successfully approved and processed. Ngalo Buwereza in Luganda translates into English as Hands and Services.
On February 7, 2022, the certificate was issued by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), showing that Ngalo Buwereza Organization Ltd formally registered as an organization for Home-based Workers in Uganda. Due to the resilience and perseverance of the Working Committee members, Ngalo Buwereza Organization became an officially registered organization.
Challenges and Lessons Learned
Amongst the many challenges faced to successfully register the organization were the lack of adequate financial resources to cater for the process, coordination within the required time, legal consultations fees, inadequate consultation, red tape and bureaucracy.
Nevertheless, due to the many challenges, important lessons were learned:
The organization’s mission is to include and organize more Home-based Workers organizations, groups, clusters and to create awareness, empower and uplift them socially and economically. By undertaking and fulfilling this mission Ngalo Buwereza is looking towards organizing Home-based Workers to command a common voice for recognition as skilled informal workers, nationally and globally.
Also, one of the objectives is to expose Ugandan Home-based Workers to new technological skills of production. This will enhance quality and quantity of products for local and global markets, thereby enabling fair world market competitions.
Now that the organization is formally registered, a plan has been established to recruit new organizations of Home-based Workers, draft and adopt a constitution, elect effective leaders, and establish day to day contact with members registered leaders.
A membership registration fee will also be taken into account as a source of income, prompting opening a bank account. Lastly, the organization will need to register with the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU), to front the rights and needs of skilled informed workers to push for the recognition of Home-Based Workers as workers and for the social and development of Uganda.