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AAU trains miners in waste recycling

ActionAid Uganda together with Makerere Women Development Association skill miners in briquette making

Nabaggala Annet is a member of the Singo artisanal small scale miners association women’s league (SASSMA). She is the pioneer of briquette making in Mubende District and was contacted by the miners to kick start a similar project for the association.
ActionAid Uganda in partnership with Makerere Women’s Development Association (MAWDA) conducted a three day training for the women including an on site practical session in briquette making at Nabaggala’s home in Kitumbi sub county. She talked to Oil in Uganda about the project.

What’s your name
Nabbagala Annet

Do you deal in gold too?

How did you join Singo artisanal small scale miners’ association (SASSMA)?

These gold miners heard about me and my charcoal business. They told me they had a women’s league under their association who I could train in making briquettes. I even have a certificate in making briquettes. Some of them were also my customers. Their secretary Emma asked me to train them.
The women were very interested in the business.

Is your business just here?
No; currently I’m training women in Busoga. I was taken to Namutumba to train.
Who took you to Busoga?
There was an agricultural show in Jinja where the women saw me and got interested. One day I got a call asking me to go to Namutumba, then Iganga and train.

How did you learn the trade?
There were some Arabs that came; they were under an organization called MODIFA. Then I was a big time farmer. I farm in Kiduuzi village; that’s my home. So these people came and mobilized farmers to teach them how to make briquettes.
The idea was to protect the environment by not cutting trees to burn charcoal. The CDO Bukuya, Edward Ssenkusu, is the one who brought these MODIFA people. He told me I was an enterprising person and encouraged me to train. We trained for 12 days at Marvelous hotel. When the CDO approached me I felt like it was a calling. So I talked to my husband and told him I was going to train.

Participants attending the Briqutte making training in Bukuya, Mubende District

Participants attending the Briqutte making training in Bukuya, Mubende District

What does your husband do?
He’s a farmer as well. We work together and even are members of a group in the village. So he told me if I fail to learn I will have failed Kitumbi sub county. So I studied hard. We even sat for exams. Do came top of the class and was rewarded with the briquette making machines. When I returned I mobilized a residents and told them we would get support as an organised group.

So you started that group?
No I mean the briquette business. I started that project in Mubende district. Everyone in the business learnt from me. And I don’t charge any money to teach. Even when I went to Namutumba I was given 100,000 shillings but I spent all on transport. Because I believe if we are many and people are learning from me government can easily support us. In fact at the Jinja agricultural show I brought a trophy for Mubende district.
I also networked with some Makerere students who were in the same business to benchmark and learn more. So I partnered with them; in fact, they are the ones who helped me acquire a solar dryer. It costs 740,000 shillings but I had support from them. I’ve made many business acquaintances in this business.

Where would you like to see this SASSMA women’s league in say, two years time?

I would love to see an expanded market for our product. I would also love for those without machinery to be helped. Also, i would wish for AAU to reach out to those people I trained in Busoga. They have an association; I even have a copy of their constitution. With such support we shall grow stronger. Because they ask me what kind of support I have since I don’t get paid anything. I told them the acquaintances I’ve made in this business helped me acquire machinery.

When did you first learn about AAU?
I first heard of it from SASSMA secretary Emma. When they came from training in Tanzania he told us the way we were doing our things had to change. For example we had to use masks not to inhale the briquette dust. He assured me AAU are partners and could help us. You know that dust usually causes one to cough.

What challenges are you finding in your work?
In training?
Both training and work
I have a problem of storage. You see we’re 14 members in our group. We make a lot of charcoal and have run out of storage space. The house is all full.
Then we also don’t have enough machinery for work. For example only 3 member can work at a time. If we could all work at once we could even make a ton in a day.
We also have a problem with the crusher. It’s too mechanical to operate. For instance it’s cumbersome for a woman to make a bag of briquettes with that crusher. There are some advanced crushers but we cannot afford them.
And also I’m always being called to train say to Mubende yet I don’t get paid or facilitated. But because I love what I do.
How many districts have you trained people?
I have been in Mubende in Myanzi, Kiganda; Mityana, Wakiso. Wherever I go many people get my contacts and call me to train. Yet all I ask for is transport.

So in your work as SASSMA how have you benefited from the partnership with AAU?
It’s very beneficial. For AAU to bring these trainers today has really helped in equipping me with more knowledge. For example we have been mixing 10kg of char with a kilo of clay and one of cassava flour and 10 liters of water. But what I have learnt today is different. In fact if market is available we shall earn more.