The Agoro Community Development Association (ACDA) is a Non-governmental organization (NGO) that assists the rural Agoro community in northern Uganda’s Lamwo and Kitgum districts. These districts have a religiously and culturally diverse population of over 600,000, most of whom are Acholi. Post Ugandan Independence in 1962 the area has suffered almost continual conflict, persecution & neglect, much of it based on ethnic tensions. Socio-culturally, there has traditionally been deep gender inequality and power imbalance between men and women. Sexual violence, child marriage and lack of respect for property rights against girls and women remain a prevalent, but silent, crime.
The Agoro region has endured years of civil and tribal violence from the time of Ugandan Independence, which has devastated the community and upset its way of life.Thousands have been killed or forced into fighting for rebel factions, the most active in recent years being the Lords Resistance Army, which is estimated to have abducted over 25,000 boys and girls. Many of the remainder have been affected as a result of harsh government treatment of the Acholi in reaction to the LRA. At one time it was estimated that over 1.8 million people across Northern Uganda were displaced by the conflict, many of them in the area where ACDA operates. Even though relative peace has been restored in recent years, many of those who left have never returned. The prolonged conflict, compounded by the impact of changing climatic conditions, has significantly affected area farming, the primary means of subsistence for over 90% of the population.
In recent years, ongoing disturbances in South Sudan have resulted in a large number of refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the area. As of December 2015, the UN estimated that there are over 173,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Northern Uganda, many of whom are in the Agoro region. HIV/AIDS remains a major problem with an estimated 8.2% of the area population being infected with the virus at year end 2014. The combination of all these factors has resulted in most area residents suffering from extreme poverty and vulnerability.
ACDA was founded in 2001 as a consequence of the ongoing disruption that was threatening the social fabric of the area. Since formation, the organization's mission has remained unchanged "To provide a voice for the oppressed & disadvantaged members of the community in the Agoro Region & to lobby for support & undertake projects to alleviate and improve their situation."
Since formation, ACDA has been active on a number of fronts working on its own and with international aid agencies on projects in support of the local population as well as displaced persons from conflict in South Sudan. Achievements to date include:
• The establishment of an Early Child Development centre (EDC) in Agoro subcounty with support from UNICEF in 2005
• Training of block leaders in 10 IDP camps from Lamwo district with support from the Norweg