When applying for the German “weltwärts” program you get different choices of projects that you can contribute to in your voluntary year. From the beginning I was very interested in the objective and the different programmes that ACTADE facilitates and therefore decided to spend almost a year learning from and contributing to the work of ACTADE. It has been a very enriching and interesting experience not just for my academic development but also for my personal growth.
Right from the start I felt the cultural differences between Uganda and Germany in the working environment. Being used to the very narrowly structured German timetable, especially in meetings, I had to adjust to a bit more flexible working hours and times. At first, this created confusion, but I adapted more and more and nowadays I appreciate the flexibility. And this has been the case for various other differences.
Interestingly, in one of my first weeks we renewed the organisation´s strategy which was a very insightful experience for me. Not just in terms of learning more about Uganda´s political, economic and social environment but also due to various learnings about the culture in the organisation. From the beginning, I appreciated that also opinions from me, as a volunteer, were of interest and integrated into the work.
Mostly, I have been working on a project about “Sustainable City Development”. At the beginning I did not have any prior experience around city development but thanks to my studies in Sustainable Development Management I was able to integrate my more generic knowledge into this project. I mainly worked together with the Executive Director, Susan Nanduddu, and a professor of Makerere University, David Mfitumukiza, on the project. We created a capacity needs assessment for 5 out of 10 newly formed Ugandan cities. The goal has been to examine their status regarding the fulfilment of different Ugandan National Policies as well as SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities and derive capacity needs.
I really enjoyed working on this project, since it has been very interesting to analyse Ugandan National Policies and the teamwork with Ms. Nanduddu and Mr. Mfitumukiza has been really inspiring and allowed me to broaden my horizon. Especially the Focus Group Discussions we organised with two different City Councils and various city representatives has given me valuable insights into political structures and processes in Uganda. Further, the cooperation with Makerere University deepened my academic skills regarding writing reports and policy papers, which I very much appreciate.
Also, the involvement in the facilitation of other events, like multistakeholder roundtables with different SDG related topics, has given me insights into so many different perspectives of challenges and opportunities that Uganda as a society faces. Being part of an NGO that strives to empower citizens and is part of the drive to transform Uganda in a sustainable way, has truly been a pleasure!
By Anne Vonwirth
A volunteer at ACTADE