The Power of Local Knowledge: Osbert Atwijukye’s Story

Meet Osbert Atwijukye, Green Empowerment’s Africa Program Director. Having grown up in a remote village in Western Uganda, Osbert is passionate about developing community empowerment projects to impact the lives of people who face the same challenges that he did.

Growing Up

Osbert was born in Rugarama, a remote village in the Ibanda District of Western Uganda. “I am the firstborn of nine sons, and all of us were born at home, no clinic delivery,” he recalls.

“My mother, who was a primary school dropout, used to tell me in order to survive in life, I must know how to dig and get food.”

However, when a Catholic priest visited Rugarama, Osbert was inspired to serve as well. He was told that in order to succeed, he must do well in school. “I started taking my studies seriously and actually put pressure on my parents, who took me to the Seminary for my primary and secondary school education,” Osbert describes. “As it’s said in Latin, multi vocati sed pauci electi, many are called, but few are chosen. I wasn’t chosen to serve as a priest. That’s how I ended up as the first graduate in my village from the best university in the country and region.”

Bringing Change Home

As the first university graduate from Rugarama, Osbert has already implemented many positive changes in his home village.

Like all students in Rugarama, Osbert studied by a paraffin lamp. Not only did the low light add extra strain to tired students’ eyes, but they faced the risk of inhaling toxic fumes. Osbert wanted a better solution for his siblings. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Osbert got his first job with Water For People, a US-based organization and one of Green Empowerment’s partners.

“I used my first salary to buy solar for my siblings at home, who were all still in school. Several would even get a chance to read on their own in their rooms.”

In Rugarama, the primary source of water was streams. “While at school, we would use our uniforms or handkerchiefs to sieve stream or pond water for drinking,” Osbert recalls. Until several years ago, over 3,000 people in Rugarama relied on one protected spring in the area. Two years ago, Osbert started a campaign to mobilize downstream households to extend water to their homes by gravity. “As of now, about eight households (50 people), including my family, have water- though not treated,” he says.

Osbert has big visions for Rugarama’s future as well as other underserved rural communities. “I would like to see a village where occupants have better access to essential services like medical [care]. Currently, they can only access a small drug shop,” Osbert explains. “[I would like to see] improved access to safe water and clean cooking, and quality education close by, unlike my time where we walked 18 km daily to access better primary education.” You read that correctly, in primary school, Osbert walked about 2 hours each way to reach his elementary school.

Joining Green Empowerment

In August 2022, Osbert joined the Green Empowerment team as the Africa Program Director. “I like impacting the lives of people that are going through the same conditions I went through by developing community empowerment projects,” he explains. “When I was growing up, some brilliant boys and girls dropped out of Primary school because of several factors such as poverty, lack of inspiration, resilience, and poor health that interfered with studies. This could have been me because my condition was not so different.”

“I believe in Green Empowerment’s approach of working with local implementing partners to reach the last mile and focusing on villages with energy and clean water. Especially now as my country and the African continent are battling with climate change effects.”

Green Empowerment is inspired to have Osbert Atwijukye at the helm of our Africa team. Supporting locals to lead change in their regions is a core tenet of the way Green Empowerment does our work. As our executive Director Andrea Johnson shared, “It is through local leaders like Osbert, who have a bone-deep understanding of local challenges and local strengths, that profound and lasting change can take root.”

Green Empowerment team members (right to left): Osbert Atwijukye, Africa Program Director, Olivia Nanfuka, Energy Analyst, and Benaville Nagudi, Uganda Program Coordinator.


  1. Nuwagira Innocent on January 24, 2023 at 4:39 am

    Very inspirational, I like Osbert’s character and resilience above all humility.
    He has a heart of seeing everyone happy or putting a smile on faces of the disadvantaged.
    As an X seminarian he fears corruption or things of kitu kidogo in his life.

  2. Alobo Susan on January 25, 2023 at 7:43 am

    I just miss working with this guy,he encouraged my professional growth and development and here I am a civil Engineer.Thanks Osbert for impacting lives of the people in rural communities.Indeed your an advocate for change in our communities.God bless you.

  3. Asingwire Boris on January 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    As a native of his home village, I would describe osbert as a candle in the darkness. He has inspired many of us and he is selfless in bringing the best to every individual. We thank you for many achievements so far and prayer for more that Rugarama and entire societies will continue to leap from your wisdom.

  4. Lillian Nabasirye on January 26, 2023 at 11:46 am

    Osbert my heart smiles seeing what an influence you have become. Light more candles for many more to brighten their lives. You know we have the outstanding next commitment on the academic path. For now thanks for being an innovative young leader. Cheer on cheer on

  5. Bosco ODYEK on April 28, 2023 at 1:54 pm

    The gentleman who inspired me to Sanitation. Self believe, Hard work, honesty and and a heart to provide innovative local solutions is what defines this gentleman. The world will surely be a better place with people like you

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