Bio Gardens is working with the very poor farmers in the Rwenzori region. We try to help them to learn and discover the resources for health and healing themselves and to rediscover their ability and talents that they have not yet discovered. Within the community, there are about 130 farmers who joined the community groups that we work with. Each community member belongs to one of the four groups which each consists about 35 members. Every member represents his family. In most cases, these are the women but there are also men in the community and sometimes both, wife and husband.
The current operation area is six villages of Kirembe; Kabukero, Bibwa, Rwabihungu, Rwabitoke and Bukumbia in Muhokya and Mahango Sub Counties and also part of Kasese Municipality. This area is stretching between two National Parks, of Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. The area has been experiencing rapid deforestation and high encroachment rate on the protected natural resources from the two mentioned parks. The community is highly increasing by number of people, according to the district population rated as 343,601 in 1991 and 523,033 in 2002 population census.
The increase in population growth has resulted into increased demand for agricultural and grazing land, household income through uncontrolled and not planned natural resource use and high demand for herbal medicine.
The climate pattern in the area has drastically changed to negative, where families are losing their crops to draught, which is contributing to excessive poverty. If this trend of situation is not addressed, the area will be likely to lose more of the remaining few trees. Rain may continue to disappear leading to continued loss of biodiversity resources, hence no food, low household income, poor health of people leading to less active people for farming and therefore excessive poverty and increased land degradation
Our main activities in the community include the following:
- village savings and loaning scheme for community financial base
- sustainable agriculture for food security
- natural medicine for improved community health service delivery
- tree planting for economic and environmental purposes
- local poultry keeping
- mushroom growing
- solar fruit drying for income and nutrition improvement
- training courses in different livelihood skills such as crafts, soap making, etc.
At Bio Gardens, people come to meet and talk; so a core function of Bio Gardens is to offer the opportunity for farmers to connect, share knowledge about current issues, support each other and meet friends.
The general livelihood of the community, we are working with, is still very poor. There is still high school dropper outs at primary level due to lack of scholastic support. Therefore there very few children who excel beyond primary, very few people good employment due to poor education levels of the community population. Other challenges which are still high in this community are are poor crop prices due to the landscape terrain, hard to access health services due to long distances from health facilities and many other.