Fire Destroys Heifer Uganda Country Office

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (March 6, 2012) On Sunday, March 4, 2012, a fire destroyed Heifer International's Uganda country office in Kampala. Staff members are safe, but damage was severe and country program assets and materials were lost in the blaze. An evaluation is under way to determine which records can be salvaged via backups and copies.

Teams from Heifer Uganda, the Italian Embassy security staff, the District Police Commander Wandegeya police station, the Fire Brigade and other security offices responded to the fire, which broke out about 5 a.m.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, though thunderstorms and lightning were reported in the area at the time. Uganda Police and other security officials are investigating. The concrete building, which is owned by Heifer, was insured, and insurance surveyors also plan an investigation.

Heifer Uganda Country Director Irene Muwanguzi and Senior Accountant Ambrose Obi, along with others, are working with the Africa Area Team to ensure the organization's work with partners and project families continues during the investigation and recovery.

In Uganda, Heifer has or is currently partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bothar Ireland, the Dutch government through HIVOs/SNV, Plan International and the Jane Goodall Institute.

For now, some work will be managed out of the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) offices in Kampala, and staff are considering other options for office space, including renting a prefabricated office unit or securing rental office space for up to a year while a determination is made about what to do with the damaged office building.

The Uganda and Africa Area Teams are coordinating to secure computers, printers and servers so that work may resume quickly, and to restore full communications assets as well. There are also conversations about staff counseling and support needed in the wake of the blaze.

"Our goal is to make the staff whole again as soon as possible," said Saeed Bancie, East Africa Regional Director.

Heifer International has worked in Uganda since 1982. To date, more than 40,000 families have been assisted directly with gifts of livestock and training with more than 2.9 million men, women and children assisted indirectly.

Heifer International is legally registered in Uganda with the National Board for Non-Governmental Organizations under the Non-Governmental registration statute, 1989. Currently, Heifer Uganda is working in three-quarters of the country, with regional offices in Mbale (East), Gulu (North), Mbarara (Western) and Kampala (Central and Secretariat).

More information will be shared as it becomes available.