HOW GENEROUS MTN UGANDA STAFF LIT UP BUNAMBUTYE RESETTLEMENT AREA, EMPOWERED SURVIVORS
By Joel Mugabi
Bunambutye resettlement camp in Bulambuli District was as dark as a shadow a few years back. To see during the night, locals used candles which not only provided insufficient light, but also posed a safety threat especially when around children.
Bordering Nakapiripirit District to the north and Kapchorwa District to the east, Bulambuli District is home to resettled landslide survivors from Bududa. Following the landslides in Bududa, the Office of the Prime Minister through the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness acquired land to construct 900 houses for purposes of resettling the affected families.
Nathan Wilson Wanasolo, the chairman of the resettlement camp says it is home to about 240 households, sheltering 3000 families. Rhoda Buteme, a farmer and mother of 12 in Bulambuli, is one of the resettled survivors. She says the area was dark and everyone used candles to see at night. A times, it even hindered her children’s education.
“Candles were very hard to use. Sometimes the children would not read their books or do their homework because the dim light would strain their eyes. They preferred to do it during the day,” she narrates. Wanasolo also recounts cases of insecurity in the area. Petty thieves took advantage of the darkness –and so did Karimojong rustlers.
Bulambuli is reflective of Uganda’s budding energy sector characterized by a low grid electricity connection rate around 27 per cent and relatively high and inhibitive tariff for an impoverished community.
In 2019, aware of the circumstances in Bulambuli, MTN set out to make a change in the community. As part of its staff-driven Corporate Social Responsibility dubbed ‘21 Days of Y’ello care,’ MTN in 2019 provided solar lighting to all the 110 existing houses in Bulambuli village in its ‘Light Up a Village Campaign.’
21 Days of Y’ello care is a global award-winning voluntary staff program that sees the MTN Uganda staff stepping out of their offices to make a difference in the lives of the communities within which they work every year.
The Shs157.6m campaign, undertaken in partnership with Fenix International, supported the households resettled under phase 1 by providing a solar panel and 4 bulbs for each home. Buteme was one of the area beneficiaries. The solar lights have been very instrumental as an affordable yet efficient form of electricity.
Being a mother of 12 and a sole breadwinner of the family, affordability is critical to Buteme. “The solar light and panel has enabled me have access to light. I can now also watch television and charge my phone. The solar light also comes in handy for the children who read books and do homework at night which was very hard before,” she says, a smile lingering on her face.
The settlement is also slowly developing with small businesses cropping up on account of a proliferating population and improved security. Speaking on the impact of the MTN initiative, Wanasolo appreciated Uganda’s leading telecom company for its donation, saying it has been very critical to the development of the area and mitigating insecurity fostered by cattle rustling Karamojongs.
“The lights have helped us a lot. We are very happy with MTN. Now we have some businesses – shops, small hotels and even those who sell vegetables,” he says. “The lights have also helped with our insecurity problem of karamojongs who are cattle rustlers. It is very common for them to come and steal our cattle.”
“MTN is proud to have supported government and the people of Uganda in improving life at the settlement camp. That camp is home to a cross section of demographics in the country who play a great role in its development,” he noted. MTN, he added, will continue supporting the country and people to grow to greater heights because “We are good together.” (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).