Interviewed by Dieter Gijsbrechts

On Thursday, July 25, the Community Agricultural Infrastructure Improvement Programme in Uganda was one of two African Development Bank projects to receive awards from the US Treasury Department in Washington, DC. The Development Impact Honors award, recognizing excellence in project design and implementation, was given to the community-driven project that saw the rehabilitation of roads, building of markets and introduction of agro-processing equipment. Asaph Nuwagira is the AfDB’s Agricultural and Rural Development Expert who has been working on the project. He took some time to tell us a little more about its benefits and impact:

Q: In your view, what were the main reasons your project was selected for a US Treasury Award?

Nuwagira: The Community Agricultural Infrastructure Improvement Programme has enabled rural communities to access markets for their produce through the construction of community access roads, bridges, and feeder roads in areas that were hard to reach. Furthermore, the agro-processing facilities that have been established in these rural areas have enabled farmers to add value to their produce and also act as collecting centres for bulk purchases, contributing to the increase in prices for agricultural produce. I therefore think that this project has been selected for a US Treasury Award because of its focus on rural communities where poverty levels are highest, the tremendous impacts that these activities have had on the lives of local people, and the example it has set for future rural development interventions by Governments and other Development Partners.

Q: Can you tell us about the impact this project has had on beneficiaries, in concrete terms?

Nuwagira: Since 2008, the project area has seen the proportion of marketed agricultural produce increase by 7.5%, farmgate prices go up by 36% and a 40% rise in household income. Meanwhile, travel costs have dropped by 63%, while post-harvest losses have gone down by 72%. This is not to mention the impacts the new roads have had on school-going children, expectant mothers, and other people in the community who benefit. The Government of Uganda liked the design of the project enough to expand it to the north and western parts of the country.

Q: Finally, do you have a story about a beneficiary that best illustrates the impact this project has had on the ground?

Nuwagira: Cattle keepers in Lyantonde District, to give just one example, had no market for their milk. They could sell milk only during the dry season but the price was as low as 50 Uganda shillings per litre. When the project constructed roads connecting their villages to the main road and also provided milk coolers to act as produce collection centres, the price of milk in the area has increased to 800 shillings and is stable whether it is a dry season or not.