Ugandan Women Reclaiming Power of Cooperation

“Water goes up to my waist during the rainy season. That’s why our main ambition is to leave this place and have land of our own,” she says. Kabogere has been evicted five times from settlements in the area, which is, quite rightly, considered unsafe by government agencies. But the problem is that no feasible alternatives are provided: the new homes that are built to replace the slums are too expensive for people like Kabogere.

So she hit upon an idea: buy land with others. In 2011, Kabogere and six other women began a co-operative in order to save money, making and selling bricks and briquettes from recycled material (in addition to their day jobs). Their housing co-operative now has 30 members. “Many of us are married, and our husbands thought this was a joke,” says Amina Iddi, a samosa seller and co-operative member. “They just want to earn their own money quickly and keep it for themselves,” she says. But when the women were able to use some of the money they saved to build three new toilets, and a local TV crew came to film them, things changed. “They take us very seriously now,” she laughs.

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