The Guardian “tracks” a rural development project in Uganda

“I wonder if it will ever happen again,” pondered Madeleine Bunting, editorial director of the Guardian’s Katine project – a three-year link up between two NGOs – the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref) and Farm-Africa – and the media organisation in north-east Uganda. The NGOs are implementing the work in the rural sub-county, while the Guardian reports on progress on its dedicated website and encourages donations from readers, which are being matchfunded by Barclays.

So would it? Possibly not at the Guardian – at least not in the same way – but perhaps in a different form, elsewhere. But whatever people think of the Katine project, it has demonstrated how new media can be used to campaign and fundraise, writes Glenda Cooper in her 5 Feb blog.

Since late 2007 the Guardian is tracking Amref’s three-year development project to improve the lives of the 25,000 people in Katine sub-county in Uganda. They are explaining where donations go, how aid works, and how lives are changed.

In October 2007, the Guardian and Observer embarked on this project to support development work carried out by the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref) and Farm-Africa in Katine. The £2.5m project is being funded by donations from Guardian and Observer readers and Barclays, which initially gave £500,000 to the project and will match-fund donations over the course of the project up to £1m. Until 22 February 2009 850,000 pound sterling had been raised.

Over the course of the project, Guardian and Observer journalists are visiting Uganda to report on progress. They have also employed an award-winning senior staff writer from the Weekly Observer newspaper in Kampala, Richard M Kavuma, to spend two weeks each month in Katine to write regular news reports.

An independent moderator, Rick Davies, has been contracted by the Guardian to visit Katine to see if the work being carried out by Amref and Farm-Africa on the ground corresponds to the project plans. Regular reports will be published online. The first can be read here.

Water one of five key areas

The project is focusing on five key areas, and improvements in each will be recorded in dedicated sections on the site. So, you can find out about the project goals and catch up on progress in education, health, water, governance and livelihoods at the click of a button.

An important part of the Katine project is listening to its residents – finding out about their lives and giving them a forum to express their views, not only on the work of Amref and Farm-Africa in their communities, but also on the decisions made by Ugandan politicians in Kampala that could impact their lives. The NGO Panos, which works to strengthen media, debate and information in developing countries, will hopefully help empower locals to tell their stories, which you can read in our village voices section.

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