By Victoria Russo
Today Nourishing the Planet highlights the Community Innovation Resource Center, a program started by Kaganga John, a Ugandan community activist, farmer, and environmentalist. Through a partnership with the Global Giving Project, the program aims to collect funds for technological hardware including computers with internet capabilities, radios, and televisions in order to improve the flow of information to Kaganga John’s home community of Kikandwa. Throughout Kaganga John’s life, he has seen his community struggle with chronic issues of hunger and environmental degradation. As a young adult he committed himself to improving the quality of life in his community; through projects such as the Resource Center, he will sustain these changes for future generations to come.
Kaganga John knows firsthand the difficulty and importance of obtaining quality education. Largely self-educated, he started his own second-hand bookstore in order to have greater access to knowledge. When Kaganga John saw that his community largely lacked quality education, he dedicated his life to improving the situation. After helping to reforest, educate, and ensure the sustainability of his community, Kaganga John now faces the challenge of connecting Kikandwa with the rest of the world. Kikandwa is located 50 kilometers from the nearest technology resource center, and has, until recently, lacked access to the internet. Kikandwa is not unique in this respect, as only 10 percent of Ugandans have access to the internet, though that number is growing. Kaganga John hopes that the Global Giving Project will allow his fellow community members to increase their knowledge and to share their experiences with others facing similar challenges.
Although there is a profound need for lasting change in environmental policy in Uganda, as Kaganga John asserts, good policy can only be made by those who have an in-depth and intimate understanding of the communities they aim to change. In order to make the voices of his community and nation heard, Kaganga John has become an expert on food security and sustainable development, and often speaks at global conferences, including the 2012 United Nations Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. He hopes that with the help of the technology resource center, Kikandwa will be able to share and acquire new information about community empowerment. The story of Kaganga John and the Global Giving Project is an inspiring example of how grassroots advocacy can foster positive and sustainable change.
Victoria is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.
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