Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Kampala's Khana Khazana

Uganda's population is - like many other African countries - a kaleidoscope of tribes and nationalities. The Buganda make up about 20% of Ugandans, but there are also the Lango, Acholi, Teso and the Karamojong, who are cattle herders living in the dry and very poor North-East.

There's also a big community of Indians in Uganda who first settled here during the British Empire. Expelled by Idi Amin in the early 1970s, they were invited back by President Museveni more than a decade later to return, reclaim their property and drive the Ugandan economy forward.

Although only 2,000 of the estimated 55,000 forced to quit have chosen to return, the Indian population is estimated at around 20,000 today.

Tonight I felt like Indian food. Bruno, the French architect, entrepreneur and owner of the beautiful Hotel Bougainviller where I'm staying, recommended Khana Khazana. It might not be the best Indian food in town, he says, but the best option for good Indian food in a nice setting.

Khana means cuisine and Khazana treasure - and that's not a euphemism. The dimly lit open air restaurant overlooks a tranquil garden and has a really good feel.

And you can't help but smile at the Ugandan hostess welcoming you in a beautiful bright red sari.

I ordered a cheese naan and n°56 Malai Mushrooms - medium spiced.

My waiter grinned and asked "are you sure you want medium?" I said "Yes", but he convinced me to go for mild medium instead. I'm glad I followed his advice. The creamy mushrooms were delicious - the Mango lassi and the Tusker too.

India meets Africa. Aventures's happy!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Boona Bagagawale - Prosperity For All

I'm in Uganda for a week to prepare a radio co-production on the topic of rural development. Over the next two years Deutsche Welle, Germany's International Broadcaster, is planning a new series of 12 radio co-productions in Africa examining various rural development projects with a focus on both success stories and challenges.

One of the radio co-productions will be produced here in Uganda by a Ugandan and a German journalist and broadcast locally by our Ugandan broadcasting partner CBS FM and world wide via Deutsche Welle.

My task this week is to organize this radio venture and identify interesting projects with our partners. This morning I had my first meeting at the German embassy as they coordinate German development efforts. But even though "rural development" is a desired outcome, the main areas of German development aid are finance, energy and water - not specifically rural development .

So I didn't come out of the meeting with concrete story ideas, but loads of contacts.

And something else caught my interest: the Prosperity-for-all programme launched by Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni in the fall of 2007.

Poverty Eradication through Prosperity for All

"The aim of Prosperity for All (PFA) is to transform all rural homestead landholdings into commercial, money making units in addition to being centres of residence and food security" (sic).

In a country where the very large majority are smallholder farmers harvesting minimal land, this is a huge challenge. Only sugar cane, tea and coffee are produced in larger quantities, I was told, but are predominantly foreign owned.

So, prosperity-for-all? How does it work? I haven't found much enlightenment online, but it looks like the government identifies 6 families in each parish who will benefit from this scheme, show the lead and transform agriculture from subsistence to commercial.

But how can you become such a successful business family and what are the criteria to be selected? Is it based on how much taxes you pay? How large your family is? Or if you're supporting the ruling NRM Party - morally, politically and financially?

Can you actually improve the farming methods of a few families and farms without improving the overall production, transport and marketing infrastructure in rural areas?

I'm curious.

Maybe one of our stories should be putting Boona Bagagawale to the test.

The Grain of Sand in your Shoe

And there was something else that caught my eye today, an opinion piece by Nabusayi Wamboka on Empowering the youth through Prosperity-For-All. He starts off with the saying: "it is not the mountains ahead that wear you out, it is the grain of sand in your shoe."

I'm hoping to identify the grain of sand in Uganda's shoes this week.

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