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Bukonzo Organic Farmers Co-operative Union (BOCU) is the first beneficiary of our Livelihood Security Fund.  The Ugandan Fairtrade coffee co-operative has told us that 1,200 people will benefit from the support provided from the Fund, which was relaunched by our charity, Shared Interest Foundation, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 20% of the Ugandan population lives in poverty, and the nationwide transport ban due to Covid-19 restrictions, has not just affected trade but also had an impact on basic needs and healthcare.  The impact of the virus had already meant that millions of Ugandan nationals were unable to meet their daily nutritional needs.

In response, the government set up a task force to oversee the distribution of relief food. Bukonzo Organic Farmers Co-operative Union (BOCU) was one of the producer groups to supplement government supplies using their Fairtrade Premium.

One of the few coffee co-operatives in Africa to be managed by women, Bukonzo has always been keen to support community initiatives. In response to the pandemic, they donated sugar, maize flour, cooking oil, beans and soap to the local government taskforce.

Bukonzo General Manager, Josinta Kabugho said: "We want to be part of the people supporting those in need."

Tragically, since hearing of Bukonzo’s efforts in helping the local community, we received news that they were facing life-threatening weather conditions due to heavy rainfall, which caused severe flooding to the Kasese District.

Josinta told us: “Following heavy rains from the Rwenzori Mountains, five rivers simultaneously burst their banks at around 2am on 7th May. We believe that 1,200 Bukonzo farmers have been affected in Kisinga, Kyondo, Kyarumba, and Maliba.

“The situation of the displaced in these areas is serious, many homes are concentrated villages which are in the low lands and along the river basins - they are now completely flooded. The Kasese District Disaster Team is reported to have registered over 35,000 displaced families, with some sleeping in the open air.

“Families reported that the floods were seen at night, which was very threatening to them and most of the properties were swept away. They had nowhere to run, since they could not tell the direction of the water.

“The farmers lost coffee and also food crop fields, therefore, food packs will be a high need.”

Shared Interest Managing Director, Patricia Alexander said: “We heard about Bukonzo’s efforts in supporting their local community with food supplies during the pandemic. It was devastating to then hear that they had lost everything in the severe flooding that hit the area just weeks afterwards.

“Thanks to support from our Livelihood Security Fund, food packages are now being delivered, with supplementary items for pregnant women and children. 

“The Fund was reinstated to help producers in Africa and Latin America to meet their basic needs, and support their income levels during and beyond the crisis.

“In the longer term, we want to help producers find ways to increase the resilience of their businesses, but first we must support them in overcoming the hardship they face.”

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