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Winston Churchill once stated that "Uganda is the pearl of Africa" in reference to the country's striking natural beauty, climate, and variety of rich landscapes. Unfortunately, the country currently ranks as one of the 20 poorest nations in the world and 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
This translates to a lack of basic infrastructure such as running water, electricity, waste management, health care, and education. Since 80 percent of employment relies on agriculture, mild climate changes have devastating effects, forcing many Ugandans deeper into poverty. The HIV/AIDS epidemic further compounds these development issues, as to date it infects one million citizens and has created three million orphans.
Jinja is the capital of the Jinja District (pop. 110,000) and the reputed "source of the Nile." The area is a popular destination for travelers due to its physical beauty and exceptional river rafting. The city itself (80 km from the
capital, Kampala) is a major commercial and industrial center that is connected by rail to Mombasa, Kenya and the Indian Ocean. Much like the rest of the country, Jinja's population faces problems of widespread poverty, unemployment, insufficient low-cost housing, malnutrition, unaffordable water and energy supplies, and inadequate health and educational facilities.
Masaka is also the regional capital of the Masaka District (pop. 70,000) and straddles the Equator, 130 kilometers from Kampala. The town is an agricultural hub and important commercial center for the surrounding rich coffee
growing area. Masaka suffered greatly during the 1979 Civil War that overthrew Idi Amin. Scars of the war are visible throughout the region, from destroyed municipal buildings to constant reminders of poverty. However, the growing number of community-based organizations are making significant changes to Masaka.
FSD invests in Ugandan grassroots partners who are working on the frontlines 365 days a year to end the cycle of poverty in their communities. We provide our partners with grants and key training to ensure their goals are practical, sustainable, and minimize external aid dependency.
We also work with students, professionals, and donors from the US and other western nations to share knowledge on ethical approaches to international development, which respect and preserve the voice, knowledge, and culture of the communities we serve.