Assessing the impact of village savings and loans associations on livelihood and development of communities: case study of Lira District, Northern Uganda
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The study sought to assess the impacts that Village Savings and Loan Associations have on livelihoods and development of the people of Lira district. A sample of 150 VSLAS members were selected from a population of over 200 VSLAs in the district. From these 50 VSLAs, 150 participants were selected as key informants for the research. The respondents were purposively selected because of their work in the VSLAs. Questionnaires, interviews, observations and focus group discussions were used as data collection instruments. Literature review and livelihood frameworks by DFID, Oxfam, UNDP and CARE were also used to understand how livelihoods strategies are implemented and their impacts. All frameworks appear to be pointing towards the same thing which is poverty alleviation. All the components were discussed in the study which starts by the credit accessibly concept and livelihood outcomes which take people out of poverty. The study showed that VSLAs positively influence incomes through entrepreneurship. Secondly increases in assets (Physical, social, Human and Financial) helps to reduce vulnerability levels to poverty A total of all the findings means that there is a positive impact VSLAs are making on livelihoods on the people of Lira district. This means the government should start supporting VSLAs as a tool for fighting poverty through training, strengthening and mentoring these saving groups to improve their operational methodologies to impact the areas and also include the local communities in financial systems. The study recommends management of these VSLAs should be improved that is they should be ran by experienced professionals and much advocacy from CSOs, given the thrust of institution on catering for the developmental needs of Lira district should play a steward role of connecting the community clients who have enterprises running on loan money to access the best markets where they can get a reasonable pay back. This will improve on the profitability of enterprises started by the community members hence improving on their welfare. The government should interest its self in theses VSLAS given they have proven to be great catalyst to rural communities’ welfare by strengthening and mentoring the village savings and loans associations. the communities require having book keeping skills, financial planning and management skills and enterprise selection capacity.