Thank you for your interest in becoming our member.◆ To Become our member, you have to first join the ICA.
◆ Please go to https://www.ica.coop/en/become-a-member to begin your membership application.
◆ Once you have been accepted as a member of the ICA, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA Ltd)
Vision: A strong umbrella organization of prosperous cooperatives with empowered members.
Mission: To provide high quality support services on a sustainable basis.
UCA was formed by co-operative unions in 1961 as the apex body of the Ugandan Co-operative movement. Originally, as the apex, it had three main mandates:
a) To carry out advocacy and representation of the Ugandan co-operatives
b) To provide education and training
c) To mobilize resources for the development of the Co-operative movement
Until the mid 1990s UCA did not have the capacity and space to carry out these mandates partly because the government was doing everything UCA should have done and partly because it did not have the capacity including the resources.
Government reforms during the early 1990s resulted in the collapse of the cooperative movement because co-operatives’ strength had been based on state support and when it was withdrawn, they simply crumbled. Unfortunately for cooperatives, this is what some external advisers to the government wanted to see. But 3 years into the reforms it became very clear that the policy of dismantling cooperatives was ill advised as the situation of farmers became even worse instead of getting better. Even with this overwhelming evidence, the Government of Uganda was still unwilling to reverse its policy and allow cooperatives to return and no one was even willing to bring it up as they feared antagonizing the government and its big development partners who were responsible for financing the reforms.
However, given the widespread difficulties that the farmers found themselves in, UCA could not allow the situation to continue and in 1997 decided to do something about it by trying to work against the policy. UCA did this by going back to the drawing board and bringing back cooperatives to answer people’s outcry without the support or even approval of government. It had to think of new ideas, new approaches, and new models of cooperatives that would work in the drastically changed and challenging environment. It had to identify partners from outside Uganda who would be willing to support the implementation of the new ideas and fortunately it received favorable response from Canadian Cooperative Association (CCA), Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC) and Norwegian society for Development (NORGESVEL). These organizations sympathized with UCA’s cause and so became partners and gave UCA support to carry out the mobilization of communities into cooperatives again. UCA started with mobilization of savings so that people in rural areas could create the capacity to access financial services using their own institutions on a self-help basis. In agriculture, we assist the members in identifying opportunities within their environment, which will maximize incomes for the members of the new cooperatives, giving guidance in electing and hiring good leaders and managers, and training to equip them with the necessary skills such as setting up systems and policies, providing necessary extension services, putting in place information and marketing mechanisms, and creating linkages with SACCOs, which provide financial services. The UCA staff did all of these things initially but the objective is to build the capacity of every cooperative, so after a few years the members have capacitated to deliver all such economic services to their members by themselves.
In just 20 years since UCA embarked on these tasks, cooperatives in Uganda have turned out to be the most popular for addressing farmers’ issues and covering the entire country. With that success UCA turned its attention to reviving agricultural cooperatives, which had also disappeared totally. Again we have been supported by the 3 NGOs mentioned above and we have re-established agricultural cooperatives at the grass roots and secondary levels throughout the country. These cooperatives are all inclusive in terms of commodity, gender, age, and social class because they include all categories of society. As a result UCA has managed to make its cooperatives relevant to everyone and everywhere, which has made people turn to the cooperative model even more than before. The government and its partners, who had been opposed to the cooperative movement, have come back and given special attention to cooperatives after demonstrating good performance. UCA’s cooperatives are able to demonstrate and prove that the farmers have been able to achieve a lot in solving problems through collective action. The cooperative approach has become a model of success to which the government has not found a better alternative.
UCA continues to push on with its reform program and is now in the third round during which it plans to assist cooperatives in creating the capacity to process abundant produce. This will be done through the creation of subsidiary companies. Surprisingly, the government policy has since changed and become very supportive of cooperatives, but it is now UCA that is in the driver’s seat to modernize cooperatives and ensure that the whole country is covered because the demand is overwhelming.