Diocese of Kitgum, Uganda

The Diocese of Kitgum wants to see all 60 of the churches it oversees transformed through the Church and Community Transformation approach.

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Why we're working there

While Uganda has seen significant economic growth over the past 20 years, progress across the country has been uneven. In many areas, like Kitgum, in the northern region of Uganda, people still face significant challenges.

Wilber and Priscilla outside their brick house
Wilber and Priscilla outside their house

Wilber and Priscilla* had little hope for the future. Married at a young age, they had no money or education and could not see how they would provide for themselves or a family. All they had was the land that Wilber’s family lived on, and he was not sure how he could afford to even build them a permanent house.

Many people living in the area around Kitgum will be able to identify with Wilber and Priscilla. Poverty levels are still far higher than the national average and, like Wilber’s family, many cannot afford to send their children to school. As Wilber can testify, it is even harder to break the cycle of poverty without an education.

On top of this, communities are faced with other challenges. Despite years of intervention, the prevalence of HIV remains very high. Low levels of education mean that many people do not understand how the virus is transmitted, so dangerous cultural norms and high risk behaviours remain common.

A heavy reliance on farming also makes the region particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Many communities are not prepared for its effects and struggle to cope when extreme weather events occur.

The aims of the project

The Diocese of Kitgum believe that the local church is a ‘sleeping giant’ that, if awakened, could have a hugely transformative effect on communities in Kitgum. In 2014, the Diocese introduced an approach called Church and Community Transformation (CCT) to 28 of their churches.

Wilber and Priscilla’s church was one of those chosen to take part. They began following a course of bible studies and began to understand that God had given them gifts and abilities. Suddenly they began to see the assets they had, like the land they owned, and they began to hope.

A community gathered together under trees in Kitgum
A community gathered in Kitgum

CCT has been empowering churches across Uganda for many years. Initially the course of bible studies focus on the church and its members, transforming mindsets and helping to bring about whole life transformation. As individual lives are transformed, CCT equips churches to begin engaging with their local communities. Communities then move on to describe their history, gather information on their present situation, analyse it and identify local needs. Using this knowledge they make informed decisions to meet the needs they have identified, creating a brighter future for everyone.

After visiting some communities that had been using the CCT approach for several years, Wilber came back with a vision - to build his family a new house. After building the walls with bricks he sourced himself, Wilber used a tree on his family’s land to make the rafters. Finally he saved money from his farming activities to buy iron sheeting for the roof.

This is just one example of the success CCT is having in Kitgum. In fact, the Diocese of Kitgum has been so impressed with CCT, they are extending the project to include all 60 of its churches.

As well as training all churches in the Diocese on the CCT approach, they will use the course as a platform to deliver training on some of the more specific challenges communities face, to: improve livelihoods, prepare for disasters, reduce the transmission of and stigma surrounding HIV, and help communities advocate with local government.

Project impact

The Diocese of Kitgum is already leading 28 churches through CCT. Through this project, they will increase that total to 60. They will also extend the training to Diocesan staff and will begin teaching the material in the local theological college.

The project will also be active in the following areas:

  • Improving livelihoods - communities will learn techniques including how to run a business, set up a cooperative or start a Savings and Loans Group in their community.
  • Preparing for disasters - farmers will learn how to work together to support each other and explore techniques to increase the productivity of their farms, making the most of their resources. Communities will also learn how to prepare and respond in the case of future disasters.
  • The ‘faithful house’ approach - following on from a previous programme, the Diocese of Kitgum will offer training and counselling for couples to strengthen relationships and encourage behaviour change, in addition to providing education for young people. It will also provide HIV testing for families, and in the case of a positive diagnosis, a full care package for the whole family. This includes the provision of counselling, antenatal support for mothers and support with feeding options for babies born to mothers living with HIV.
  • Advocating with local government - communities will receive training on government legislation and local government procedures, helping them understand what they are entitled to and how they can best be heard. The project will also help them build and maintain relationships with local officials.

Join us

It costs £75,000 per year for the Diocese of Kitgum to run their programme. Join with us in supporting their work:

  • A gift of just £55 per year for three years could provide training for one church in the Faithful House approach.
  • A gift of £170 per year for three years could help three churches prepare for natural disasters and improve livelihoods through through schemes like savings and loans groups.
  • A gift of £540 per year for three years could cover the cost of taking three churches through the CCT process.
  • The total cost of this project comes to around £3,750 per church which works out at about £1,250 per church per year.

*Names changed