Uganda's Internet penetration rate is a little over six percent, a number that prevents large swaths of the population from joining Uganda's blogren or accessing the global blogosphere. For one village, the Guardian and Observer's Katine Project is working to change that.
Since October 2007, the Katine Project has tracked the impact of a dedicated £2.5 million ($4 million) AMREF development project in Katine, a rural sub-county in northeastern Uganda (virtual tour). In addition to providing general news about Uganda and tracking developments in five key project areas, the project has been training local residents to use video cameras to document their lives:
[In February], almost 20 people from Katine attended three video workshops held in the media and resource centre, now opened to villagers at the Amref office in the sub-county.
Four Flip video cameras and tripods have been left in the centre for villagers to borrow and tell their stories….
The aim of the centre is to give members of the Katine community a global platform to talk about their lives – the challenges and opportunities, their thoughts on the work being carried out by Amref – and to offer them access to information and expertise.
The resulting videos are presented in the project's Village Voices section. In one, Katine resident John Ogalo shows viewers his homestead and attends a church service. Another video shadows bicycle taxi driver Dennis Ewalu as he repairs his bicycle, negotiates with customers and cycles nearly 80 km (50 miles) in one day.
The Village Voices section also connects readers to local residents through text. One post shares the stories of three schoolgirls who discuss their hopes for their future:
In future, I want to study politics and become a member of parliament for my area. Members of parliament earn a lot of money and they are respected.
My dream is to be a financially independent woman. I need to control my own finances, not to depend on a husband for everything.
My grandparents have been responsible for my entire upbringing and when I finish my education, I will buy them each a present. Because they may not be able to educate me up to university, I would like to train as a nurse after my secondary education. That is what most girls who cannot afford further education go for. It is also easy to get employed as a nurse. One can easily start a private clinic in the village for survival.
Katine's 25,000 residents live entirely off of Uganda's electricity grid. Without the Katine Project, it is unlikely that these people would ever get the chance to share their stories with the world.