Masaka, Uganda

 Paths to Progress:  What's Happening in Masaka

Community Partner Highlights

environment.gifMasaka Vocational and Rehabilitation Centre (MVRC) aims to help mentally and physically handicapped youths learn a vocational skill so they may be able to support themselves economically.

health.gifMasaka Microfinance & Development Cooperative Trust (MAMIDECOT) is a small microfinance institution that provides business-consulting services in urban and rural Masaka. Emphasizing the importance of saving as the key to development, they provide loans and training for their clientele.

Internship Opportunities in Masaka click here

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An introduction to the equatorial town


The town of Masaka straddles the equator and is home to just over 70,000 residents. The majority of the population relies on agricultural and livestock farming as a source of sustenance and income. Masaka's proximity to Lake Victoria allows for easy access to fresh fish and much of this meat is processed in the town. Scars left by the 1979 Civil War are still apparent in Masaka, from the ruins of municipal buildings to widespread poverty and lack of infrastructure. However, the growing number of community-based organizations are making considerable strides in the region.


Central Region

Population: est. 74,100

Avg. temperature:  Low
         62ºF / High 86º F

Local time:

Local language: Luganda


Organization: Kitovu Mobile
Topic: Health
Intern: Alexandra Tan

Kitovu Mobile recognizes that HIV/AIDS not only affects an individual, but also affects families emotionally and financially. Often teenage youth often drop out of school because of a lack of funds or support. Kitovu Mobile targets this problem by providing valuable training through Mobile Farm Schools to teach modern, sustainable, integrated, organic farming skills.


Organization: TASO
Topic: Water harvesting
Intern: Margaret Kennedy

The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) and Intern Margaret Kennedy developed a sustainable farm with the Butende Technical School, which is an alternative form of education for those who cannot afford a university. The Institute created an AIDS Challenge Youth Club that gives back to the HIV/AIDS community through fundraising and nutrition initiatives.

Anita Sempa, Program Director


Anita has worked in the field of rural and international development since 1992. She speaks several languages, loves working with people from varied cultural backgrounds, and with a diplomat for a husband, she has a unique, insider perspective on international relations and cooperation. She also has significant work and educational experience in communication, management, and mobilization and has served as a Board Member of several Ugandan NGOs.

A day in the life of an FSD Intern

The Weight of Water

Mohammad Zia participated in a Global Service Trip with the University of Maryland in the spring of 2012. Partnering with Renewed Efforts to Alleviate Poverty (REAP), the group constructed a water harvesting tank and sustainable cookstoves, using local materials and techniques. Recently he was selected as a 2013 Truman Scholar.

Working with REAP was an excellent experience that broadened my perspectives and enabled me to visualize many concepts relating to sustainable development. I was able to see the impacts of water security in rural Uganda but I was also able to engage in building water harvesting tanks to tackle the situation in a sustainable and socially viable way. As an intern I was able to physically assist with the projects while learning about the process of building water tanks, hand washing systems, and sustainable stoves. It was truly a “hands on” experience that brought us into the real world classroom and challenged us to think dynamically. Instead of sitting at a desk at a conventional internship, I found myself sitting next to shovels and logs while hammering nails into a tank that would directly benefit the lives of a rural family. Few internships can rival the intimate experience I had while working with REAP.

Upon completing the first phase of water tank building we continued to learn more about water and sustainability in Uganda. The hole we were digging was constructed next to a villager's house and a pipe was used to connect the hole to the house's drainage gutters on the roof. The gutters collected rainwater and funneled it into the water tank that had a small door that provided families with sustained access to clean water. Without the water tank, Ugandans often have to walk long distances to fetch freshwater. Young girls are often burdened with the cumbersome and dangerous task of traveling to find water.

Discussing this concept fails to truly represent the burden that rests on the shoulders of many girls in sub-Saharan Africa. Our group engaged in water fetching to paint a portrait of what limited water access really entails. We walked to the river near the village and each of us carried jugs that held about 3-4 gallons of freshwater. We carried the water back to the village homes and it was an extremely draining task. The water was heavy and the hills back to the village were steep. We all succeed but we were struggling to catch our breath and I also remember gasping at my new hand wounds from carrying heavy water jugs. That same day, I remember seeing a teenage girl carrying three water jugs, one on her head and one in each hand. The girl managed to carry three while I couldn't even muster enough strength to carry one during what was merely an exercise of experience. The teenage girl, however, was carrying the water out of necessity and I was truly shaken by her strength and by the struggles of water access. MasakaGST.jpg
My experience in Uganda with FSD was monumental in building my abilities and formulating my views on the issues relating to developing communities around the world. Reading about poverty, food and water insecurity, and global health is intriguing but immersion is imperative. Immersion places a face on many issues that we often discuss in class. Working in Uganda with FSD allowed me to meet inspiring people, understand development issues, and explore solutions while developing a vested interest in sustainable development.