The contribution of microfinance intermediaries towards rural poverty alleviation: A case study of the Diocese of Kigezi Five Talents Programme
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The main objective of the study is to evaluate the contribution of microfinance intermediaries towards rural poverty alleviation. The study was informed by the concept of household economic portfolio. Both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies were utilised to ensure validity, reliability and authenticity. The selection of items used in construction of Achievement Scores was arrived at by actual inspection of the asset holdings of respondents during a pilot survey. The selection of these items was based on commodities and services that residents of Kabale district strove to acquire as soon as they could afford them. The computation of the final Achievement Score Index involved four major items that were considered essential as perceived by the community. These items included ownership/ possession of permanent housing, Land, Animals/birds and durable household assets. This study tested the critical hypothesis that the DOK-FTI has not improved the well being of its clients. The method employed was the One Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) procedure based on the F - statistic to test the difference between the mean Achievement Scores. Eighty respondents were interviewed, among whom forty were clients of the DOK-FTI while forty respondents were non-clients of DOK-FTI. All the eighty respondents came from the selected twenty parishes (out of ninety-four parishes) in the Diocese of Kigezi, Kabale district. The study revealed that most clients fall in the 19-35 age bracket because it is the most energetic and active group and that, naturally, it is at a tender age where more people strive to improve their welfare than at old age. It was also found out that most of the DOK-FTI supported projects were the main sources of household income. Agriculture was the major source of household income. The study further revealed that much of the population in the district is illiterate. In addition, a low female access to micro-credit was registered possibly due to a low ebb of women emancipation, inferiority and financial insecurity. Also a high percent of married DOK-FTI clients was registered perhaps indicating that marriage bestows responsibility. This study also noted that a significant part of the population owns no land due to population pressure. Lastly, impassable roads, the lack of market, bad weather, erosion and high interest rates threaten to end all hopes of sustaining income-generating projects once external support and micro-credit are withdrawn. The policy implications that emerge from the study were directed towards direct intervention in marginalized areas so as to improve availability of essential services and infrastructure (most especially health and transport), improving the productivity of existing land through encouraging appropriate farming practices that improve soil fertility and reduce erosion, encouraging the growing of high-yielding crop varieties that improve soil fertility (such as legumes) which therefore calls for a highly trained cadreship to provide advisory services, building the capacity of Lower Local Governments to enforce planning restrictions on activities in wetlands, steep slopes and water courses, supporting alternative sustainable livelihood options like trade/business, training local communities in matters of proper identification and management of profitable income-generating projects thus ensuring sustainability, training loan managers, administrators and Local Government leaders in financial accounting, bookkeeping and project appraisal, and lastly, initiating a poverty reduction framework that is demand-driven so as to render development projects relevant, relative and accommodative.