Human rights and land rights are challenging issues in Uganda. The young Ugandan woman Zulia Nyakahara advocates for those who are disadvantaged.

Zulia Nyakahara lives in Western Uganda, near Lake Albert, where a couple of years ago large oil fields were discovered. Her dream was to directly benefit from the discovery and to grow her small shop into a much larger business. However, interest by investors and the government in the profitable land grew and communities feared for their land-rights and livelihoods. When in 2012 the human rights organisation "Global Rights Alert" (GRA) started its work in the region, Zulia attended a community meeting. GRA is mainly specialized in natural resource government and the training of local community monitors, who can volunteer to observe human rights trends, risks and violations of rights in their surroundings.


For several years now, Zulia has been active in the organisation and has visited villages to inform communities on land-related rights. She also participated in information sharing sessions on the radio and organised local advocacy activities. Her main focus lies on women and property ownership, an important issue in Uganda. She even mediated in cases of disputes between families that relate to control and use of land. Her work for the community turned out to be such a success that people in her village challenged her to run for local Woman Councillor. "People told me: Zulia, there is no other way we can pay you for what you have done for us, we have to support you!" Zulia recalls. A month later she was elected as Woman Councillor for Bulimya Parish. "The knowledge and confidence I gained through GRA helps me to conduct community trainings many people are benefiting from", Zulia concludes, "Now, as a leader, I hope I can inspire people to monitor issues and solve them without waiting for assistance from somewhere else." Zulia never dreamed of becoming a politician. But instead of helping only herself, she ended up helping her entire village.


GRA's work is supported with funds from the "Democratic Governance Facility - DGF". DGF is a programme supported by eight development partners (Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Ireland and the EU) strengthening human rights and good governance in Uganda. For 2017, the EU delegated the management of its funding contribution (7.5 million Euros) for the DGF to the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). The programme currently supports more than 80 partners in the country, most of which are civil society organisations. However, strategic government institutions such as the Ugandan Human Rights Constitution, the Equal Opportunity Commission and others are partners as well. Günter Engelits, Head of ADA's local office in Kampala, stresses, "Together with the EU and all other contributors, ADA is proud to continue its support for this important program for democratization in the country."