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Building the Next Generation of Resilient Ugandans


  • Poor and vulnerable Ugandans are one shock away from destitution.
  • Strengthen local capacity on multiple fronts: livelihoods, nutrition, and governance.
  • Enable individuals, households, and communities to be more resilient to future shocks.
The Challenge

Statistically, the average Ugandan is a poor, malnourished, 14-year-old girl living in a rural area, prone to drop out of school and at extreme risk of pregnancy and early marriage. Her well-being is a bellwether for all Ugandans. She must thrive if the country is to thrive. Yet she faces myriad, overlapping obstacles—limited access to finance, markets, education, and social standing—exacerbated by periodic shocks like drought, flooding, conflict, and destruction of gardens and property by wild animals. Assistance she might receive through donors and government is typically piecemeal, addressing one problem at a time, rather than a holistic approach.

The Approach

Abt implements the flagship resilience program for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Uganda. USAID’s Integrated Community Agriculture and Nutrition (ICAN) Activity aims to simultaneously increase economic opportunities for poor households, improve nutrition for women and children, boost school enrollment and retention, and strengthen community and local governance. Abt takes a facilitative approach, working with and through trusted community organizations—businesses, government, and civil society—to carry out multiple resilience activities in some of Uganda’s most vulnerable regions. Initiatives promote dietary diversity for families while connecting farmers with markets and seed suppliers to grow nutritious, climate-resilient crops. The Activity’s mentor-led camps for out-of-school adolescent girls and young women use social behavior change strategies to teach business skills and build confidence.

The Results

Since 2018, USAID ICAN has reached more than 188,000 people through integrated activities, as embodied in the Activity’s popular “We Can Do 5” behavior change campaign. The campaign prioritizes income generation, nutrition and food security, water and sanitation, education for all, and natural resource management. Nearly 90,000 people—three-quarters of them women—have received support to improve their livelihoods, including skills training and linkages to markets and new nutritious crops. USAID ICAN organized remedial learning centers for 11,521 children during COVID-19 school closures. The Activity also hosted mentorship camps for more than 4,000 adolescent girls and young women. Following the first camp, 60 percent of participants started enterprises and accessed loans from their saving groups.

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