ICODI empowers communities in Southwestern Uganda to confront food insecurity, malnutrition and mental health issues
In the wake of escalating climate change effects and their far-reaching health impacts, initiatives that empower communities to build resilience while addressing health challenges are more critical than ever. That’s why in 2023 Madiro chose Integrated Community for Development Initiative (ICODI) to implement a project that will help meet the needs of communities in southwestern Uganda and tackle the impact of climate change. The project will strengthen ICODI's efforts to empower communities in Isingiro District-South Western Uganda to implement sustainable agricultural practices to overcome food insecurity and malnutrition especially among children as well as help communities become free from mental health issues.
ICODI is led by the Executive Director-Kato Ssekah Abdu, who is passionate about empowering local communities to address the root causes of climate-related health challenges.
“We’re excited to work with Madiro as we implement this project to tackle the impacts of climate change among the rural populations in Isingiro District-South Western Uganda. These interventions will help us build more resilience in our communities,” explains Kato.
Within the scope of this project, ICODI will seek to reduce the impact of climate change and improve health standards by addressing malnutrition and mental health issues among youth and adults in rural communities. The project aims to reduce food insecurity, especially during the dry seasons by training and empowering 1200 rural youth and adults to implement sustainable agriculture in their communities. ICODI’s team will provide training on agronomic practices like weeding, harrowing and mulching among others as well as demonstrate and support the planting of drought-tolerant crops like sesame and millet to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, prevent soil erosion and enrich soil quality. Through these best practices in agriculture, the team aims to reduce malnutrition and promote mental health among youth and families.
ICODI's team of experts are also implementing a groundbreaking approach to promoting mental health among the project beneficiaries through incorporating sports and physical activities alongside using buffering hypothesis and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in their project activities. Recognizing the intersection of physical and mental health well-being, the teams will tap into Uganda's love of sports including football, netball, and rope pulling among others, where they will set up side clinics to provide a platform to raise awareness and reduce stigma related to mental mental health issues and provide psychosocial support counseling to the beneficiaries. Expert staff and volunteers will work together to screen about 1200 youth and adults, referring those with mental-health issues to public health facilities to access appropriate care and treatment.
As the long-term impact of the program is vital to its success, ICODI will also recruit 400 individuals to undergo training in their trainer-of-trainees (T.O.T) program. These trainees will form cohorts to disseminate information and best-practices to promote climate-resilient agriculture and mental health care throughout the rural communities. The team will also work closely with key partners, including Isingiro District Local Government, UNHCR, Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, and Mbarara Sports Academy during the implementation of the project.
This project’s innovative approach to climate-resilient agriculture and mental-health awareness shines as a ray of hope in the face of mounting climate change impact on health and food security. By empowering communities to develop their resilience and promoting mental and physical well-being, they will create a healthier future for the youth and adults in southwestern Uganda.