Simon Obwoyo, Uganda
A simple mobile phone is helping Simon Obwoya bring new opportunities to a community that has faced the brunt of Uganda’s brutal civil war. Obwoya lives in Lalogi subcounty in northern Uganda, a region that is home to thousands of people who have been displaced by a decades-long insurgency. People have recently started returning to their land, and learning how to farm and take care of their families again, making his services invaluable.
Obwoya, a smallholder farmer himself and a Grameen Foundation Community Knowledge Worker (CKW), travels around his district, mostly on foot, giving fellow farmers vital information on treating their diseased crops and sick animals, the best crops to plant and when to plant them based on the weather forecast, and market prices at different locations. As an active member of his local farming network, Obwoya is intimately familiar with many of the challenges they face and uses his network to promote the program and register new members.
Obwoya and his family are lucky to have a few disconnected acres of land and two cows. While he might seem to be one of the better-off farmers in his village, his family eats just two meals per day, has no electricity and cooks over a wood fire in a very smoky cooking hut.
CKWs like Obwoya are playing a vital role in introducing an entirely new way to get relevant, local information to farmers where they need it, while collecting real-time data through their phones for various agencies looking to help the poor. Their daily experiences are helping us to improve the program and are a constant reminder that, though technology can facilitate solutions, it is not the solution. People who are empowered with information -- and who can help improve the lives of their neighbors while improving the effectiveness of local institutions -- are what really make the difference.