State of the Union: Uganda
Seed Effect is committed to serving in the hard places where others aren’t.
Inflation in the U.S. has hit a 40-year high, and financial institutions like Bank of America predict a mild recession.
In June, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 75 basis points to a target range of 1.5% to 1.75%. This was the steepest rate hike enacted by the regulator in 28 years as it looked to battle surging inflation.
The Fed’s rate hike came after the Labor Department released data showing annual inflation in the U.S. surging to 8.6% in May, and then 9.1% in June – the steepest 12-month increase in consumer prices the country has witnessed in over 40 years.
We are all feeling the strain as food prices increase and gas prices hit a new record high this June, climbing to a national average of $5.01 per gallon, according to AAA.
Financial challenges are hitting close to home. Imagine weathering this storm without basic financial tools or a safety net.
Seed Effect is committed to bringing Christ-centered economic empowerment to those living in the hard places.
And because of the current financial crisis, the refugees living in rural settlements in Uganda that lack accessible banking infrastructure need our help now with greater urgency.
The Front Line
Seed Effect staff member Idro Sunday says,
“Before March this year, I used to be able to support my family with food, medication and other domestic needs. This changed drastically in March due to increasingly uncontrollable prices of commodities of industrial and domestic products.
Since March, I have spent more on food every month than what I used to spend in a three-month period. I even had to stop the construction on my house as a result of the skyrocketing building materials.”
Seed Effect Uganda Country Director shared,
“If we are feeling the pinch of the economic changes in the country, it is even harder and rougher for those in the vulnerable communities we are serving in West Nile (Adjumani, Moyo and Yumbe) and northern Uganda (Lamwo), where greater percentage of basic and food items are obtained from other developed towns and cities due to factors like unfavorable climate amongst others.
This means, for people who have small businesses, sales have drastically declined. Business owners cannot purchase new stock and they end up hiking the prices of commodities which has a direct effect on the ability to provide basic needs to support families.”
It is estimated that up to 84% of the population in northern Uganda were already living in extreme poverty prior to the COVID-19 pandemic alongside over one million refugees working to rebuild their lives (1).
“During COVID19 people were willing to work but could not because of fear, loss of jobs and lockdown restrictions. People were spending savings and were unsure of what tomorrow holds.
The population was handcuffed and filled with uncertainty which was frustrating and to some contributed to the current economic situation.”
Our data has revealed that more than 80% of both South Sudanese refugees and Uganda host community members reported total savings of $5 or less prior to joining Seed Effect where they have a safe place to save and access to affordable credit.
To date, together we’ve empowered 57,000 members in over 2,100 groups to save over $6M and have lent over $4M to start thousands of small businesses. We have so much to celebrate and yet this means that there are still millions of South Sudanese refugees and Ugandans trying to weather this financial downturn without access to the critical tools they desperately need.
“Now, the fear [of COVID] is gone and people are working hard because there is no restriction, however with the inflation it feels like all the hard work is in vain.
Because, for example, the salary which used to sustain all basic needs for a month is not enough to provide for two weeks. It is frustrating because we expected the situation to improve after the COVID lockdowns were lifted.
This has created stress, led to depression, and increased frustration for families. The percentage of mental health cases is on the rise in the country because of all that is going on.”
Fiona Comfort Madraa, CEO-Seed Effect Uganda.
In light of this, we have seen a huge increase in the demand for our program.
Adrawa Silas, Seed Effect Yumbe Branch Coordinator shared,
“We are seeing an increased need for savings groups amidst this challenging economic situation. And yet, by July 2022, all targeted groups in Yumbe for 2022 had already been formed.”
Unfortunately, our staff has had to turn people away because we lack the funding to start new groups.
Economic hardship drives demand to be in our savings and loan groups, therefore the demand has outpaced our expectations, and we met our yearly goal by July. We have a line of people that want to be in groups – we just need more money to meet the need.
It’s Working and Now We Must Grow
Despite facing significant challenges over the past few years, because of your radical generosity, Seed Effect continues to grow and bring hope and empowerment to South Sudanese and Ugandan refugees.
Our long-term vision keeps us laser focused during each difficult season and that is why, with your support, Seed Effect has consistently exceeded our yearly goals. (see Annual Report, pg 8)
By the end of 2023, our goal is that all South Sudanese refugees in the seven largest refugee settlements and all Ugandans in the neighboring villages who want to join a savings group will have access to Seed Effect’s program. Over the next five years we plan to serve over 100,000 South Sudanese refugee and Ugandan families, impacting over 500,000 children.
To date, we are on track to meet these milestones, but we urgently need your support to follow through.
“My children can’t sleep hungry. Being in a group has helped me to access loans. Life would have been hard for me if I wasn’t in this [Seed Effect] group due to the reduction in the refugee food ratio and the high commodity prices in the market.”
Apiol Alier, Seed Effect Member of Tak Nhom (Think twice) Savings an Loan Group
How You Can Help
- Consider joining the Greenhouse, our community of monthly donors. Monthly giving helps us better plan for growth!
- Consider increasing your monthly Greenhouse gift by $5, $10, $20, or even $50.
- Consider making a one time or recurring donation in honor of a loved one.
- Share the love! Tell the inspiring story of Seed Effect to friends and family and invite them to empower refugees along with you.
- And most importantly, join our prayer team to support Seed Effect during this difficult time.
Scovia Mansuk, Head of Operations & Missy Williams, Co-Founder/Executive Director
“As refugees, we don’t take for granted those that God sends to help in any way.
In fact, every day we pray and bless the hands that have provided for this work.”
Scovia Mansuk, Head of Operations, Seed Effect Uganda.
Together we’re challenging the status quo. We are challenging the belief that refugees and people living in material poverty need a handout.
We have seen that with the right tools, the opportunity to work, and the support of Christ-centered community, refugees and people living in material poverty can and want to provide for their families with dignity.
Thank you for bringing hope, opportunity, and empowerment to the hard places!
(1) World Bank “Uganda Poverty Assessment 2016: Fact Sheet”, (2) REACH: Refugee Access to Livelihoods, Housing, Land, and Property May 2019, Uganda