Text: Jenni Petaja
Photos: Gregório Cunha
In Lyantonde, Lyantonde District, Central Region of Uganda
31 year old Anna Ikonen from Finland works as EU Aid Volunteer in a small town of Lyantonde, southern Uganda. Her employer in Uganda is an NGO called Rural Action Community Based Organization (RACOBAO), which employs around 15 persons. They promote human rights of the most vulnerable people and work in a variety of areas such as HIV prevention, care, and support, education and apprentices of orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC), water and sanitation and disaster risk reduction and humanitarian assistance.
"I was keen to work here to gain more work experience as I have studied Development Studies in the University. In RACOBAO, I would get new skills from working with development projects, such as monitoring and evaluation. In addition, Africa – what an experience it could be! Anna tells."
Anna is deployed for 6 months and she started her volunteer work in March 2018. Her initial job description was to build RACOBAO’s capacity in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
"Now besides that I coordinate Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (EPRP) team which consist of other 2 NGOs and local district officials. We advocate resources for disaster risk committee among others. Our team’s aim is to improve the DRR capacity in Lyantonde district, in order to have an effective response against disasters", Anna describes.
In Lyantonde district, drought, livestock diseases, hailstorms and floods are the main hazards. When they strike, they always affect negatively people’s income and wellbeing. For example in spring 2017, some people were suffering from food shortages due to drought in the district.
"I hope I have been able to contribute to the beginning of a well-functioning disaster management committee. Naturally I hope that in future, the next time the district faces drought, the committee is able to respond to the needs of people in time and efficiently."
"I come to office every day and my days all seem to be a bit different from one and other. For example with my work with EPRP: at first we had budget questions, but now we have moved on to develop EPRD plan and we have even discussed about the new weather station for the district for early warning system. What makes my work nice is that we enjoy the same type of humor with my colleagues – that makes things fun."
Besides work, Anna describes her life in Lyantonde as quiet but interesting: she gets opportunities to travel in the country, meet other volunteers and see the beautiful nature. Anna warmly recommends the EU Aid Volunteer’s program for everyone interested.
"It is already my second time volunteering via this program: it keeps life interesting, you learn new skills and you get to see the world. In addition you have a chance to work in different environments, and to cope with different challenges than in home. In total, this is a good step towards a career in the humanitarian sector. In the future I hope to continue working in the field of environmental issues and climate change", Anna says.
Reducing risks and gaining experiences