Uganda is the country where I first started to develop the GAMEchange methodologies, building on other pictorial methodologies that already existed from organisations like Action Aid, and also local Ugandan artists working with development agencies. It is a country where I have a lot of photographs of community drawings and also contextual information from two coffee-producing regions:
Rwenzoris in Western Uganda with three organisations: Kabarole Research Centre, Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Union and local Community-Based Organisations like Mwana Mulho where I worked 2003-2016.
Mount Elgon in Eastern Uganda with a Fair Trade Cooperative: Gumutindo from a process funded by TWIN UK 2012-2014. T
Rwenzoris: KRC, Bukonzo Joint and Mwana Mulho
Organisations in the Rwenzoris have been working with and adapting PALS since 2003. Women and men in the area have developed their own pictorial language and do very detailed diagram analysis for their own life planning. Organisations have also integrated the pictorial systems into their organisational planning and impact assessments.
Many of the drawings are very detailed in terms of information, colourful and organisational drawings are often large and colour-coded.
Many of the images are figures doing something that are quite easy to understand for people from the area who know the crops, trees etc.However because they have become a ‘pictorial language’, there is a tendency for drawings to become formulaic rather than innovative and expressive. Particularly in manuals produced by staff where the more polished style is very noticeable. Though understandable as the aim of the manuals is clarity.
Mount Elgon: Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative
Gumutindo is a Fair Trade coffee cooperative on the slopes of Mount Elgon. Although women perform about 70% of the work on coffee, they are generally not admitted as cooperative members – and so eligible for training and credit – because men own the land and control the coffee money (see also the situation in DRC). Domestic abuse was very common (about 70% households) and men locked the store to stop the women getting hands on the coffee money. GALS was introduced as part of a gender strategy of TWIN-UK who were prominent buyers of Gumutindo coffee and did a lot of the training for them.
I decided to base my creative translations on drawings from gender diamonds from the first workshop because these single-image vignettes by women of their situation are some of the most expressive, poignant and raw that I have encountered. Each image manages to tell a story in itself that can be largely understood even by someone from outside.