Over 80 percent of Uganda's population of 29 million is rural based and depends almost entirely on agriculture at various levels for livelihoods. However, diseases, pests, soil degradation and other factors such as lack of market for easily perishable crops, have greatly affected the total national incomes and subsequently the standard of living of people in rural communities. Access to information as prescribed in government strategies requires cheap and fast dissemination of information to farmers, even in the rural areas. Limited resources, including limited telecommunications and energy infrastructure, have contributed to slow implementation of such government initiatives. Consequently, despite being the largest contributor to the country's economy, the agricultural sector still lacks knowledge dissemination innovations to facilitate timely, accurate and relevant information to farmers.
It is widely held that access to accurate and timely information by urban and rural women can not only increase agricultural productivity, but also result in enhanced economic and social development. Indeed, the Uganda government recognises that information is the key for all kinds of programmes [like the Poverty Eradication Action Plan, Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA)].
This article highlights Women of Uganda Network's (WOUGNET's) activities in addressing the need to enhance access to information by rural women in Uganda with examples from WOUGNET's initiatives in Apac District, Northern Uganda. Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) is a non-governmental organisation initiated in May 2000 by several women's organisations in Uganda to develop the use of ICTs among women as tools to share information and address issues collectively.
WOUGNET is instrumental in supporting women and women organisations to learn the use and application of ICTs
According to the findings of the 2003 WOUGNET Evaluation Report (which used the APC Gender Evaluation Methodology