Forming Leaders in Integral Ecology for Rural Transformation in Uganda

Bethany Land Institute's mission is to form leaders in the practice of Integral Ecology through an educational program in sustainable land use, economic entrepreneurship, and spiritual formation. Inspired by Pope Francis' Laudato Si', BLI is a response to three major challenges in Uganda: environmental degradation, food insecurity, and poverty. BLI welcomes students from poor rural communities across the country to learn about Integral Ecology.

Coming together in 2012, three Ugandan friends, Fathers Emmanuel Katongole, Cornelius Ssempala, and Anthony Rweza, began discussing the problems of deforestation, poverty, and land depletion around their homes in rural Uganda. They decided a multifaceted approach was needed: an approach that equally addressed economics, education, and the environment.

Bethany Land Institute carries out its mission through an integrated education program in sustainable land use, economic entrepreneurship, and spiritual formation.  Dedicated Ugandans are invited to reside at BLI for two years and partake in this program, where they learn the skills needed to live out the practice of Integral Ecology in their lives going forward.

BLI is committed to full transparency surrounding the impact of our work. We currently track the inputs and outputs related to our farming operations and are also developing an inventory of the plants, trees, and wildlife species present in Lazarus' Forest. We believe it is crucial to collect this data to see the impact that our theory of change is having on life in Uganda.

“Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” - Laudato Si', #139

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Where We Work

BLI is located in central Uganda, in the Luwero District. The Institute rests on 400+ acres of land within the Kasana Luweero Diocese. It is about 60 kilometers north of the capital, Kampala. The land is very near the Kampala-Gulu highway, a major Ugandan thoroughfare.

The Luwero district has an estimated 535,200 residents while the country of Uganda has a population of over 40 million. It is estimated that nearly 57% of the country's population is under the age of 20 and 17% of the population is under the age of 5. Most residents live in rural areas (76%), although this number has been decreasing in recent decades due to the lack of opportunities in these regions. Most young people think that their only hope to break out of poverty is to move to Kampala, as examples of successful farmers in the area are few and far between due to land transformation, climate change, and lack of technical farming knowledge.

Our goal is to redirect that trend as we train our students to become successful farmers and entrepreneurs in rural Uganda.

BLI actively works toward the following 9 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs were created in 2015 by the UN General Assembly. Visit the UN's website to read more.

BLI News and Information

Fr. Emmanuel participates in Vatican “Path of Nonviolence” Conference in Rome

By tmurray | May 6, 2019

Early this month, I had the honor of participating in a conference in Rome on “Path of Nonviolence: Towards a Culture of Peace. Organized by Pax Christi International and the Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, the two day conference reflected on the Christian call to nonviolence in the midst of various…

New Land for BLI!

By tmurray | May 6, 2019

We are excited to share and celebrate some wonderful news with you. In addition to the land that we own and have been cultivating for the pase four years, through the generosity of the Kasana Luweero Diocese (KLD) we have been offered an additional 160 acres on which to build our campus! We have entered…

Notre Dame University CGI Students Visit BLI

By tmurray | May 6, 2019

BLI hosted its second group of Notre Dame students during their March 2019 immersion in Uganda. The students visited both campuses as part of their course called New Norms of Development and the Ecology of the Common Good in Uganda. The course is part of the Common Good Initiative at the University of Notre Dame’s…

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