This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ssekandi Ssegujja Ronald. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

EXPLAINED: Why East Africa Needs To Hold On For The Regional Integrations

More from Ssekandi Ssegujja Ronald

By Ssekandi Ronald Ssegujja:

The East African Community (EAC) is arguably the best performing regional body in Africa and has brought together Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi with South Sudan showing great interest in being part of the federation. In the past few years, a lot has been achieved; a common market protocol, a move towards political and economic integration that would eliminate boarders and establish a single currency. As citizens of the region, we have been excited by the fast growth and are bracing ourselves for probably a new world of opportunity.


In the past few months, we have faced a big challenge where key players in the regional federation disagreed over certain pertinent issues. Tanzania and Burundi have particularly absconded from the last two meetings citing a plot to side-line them due to their unwillingness to be privy to certain protocols as fronted by the other club (Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda) who are in favour of a faster process. It is not the first time that the EAC has faced a risk of collapse; it collapsed once when leaders failed to agree in the past.

From a citizen’s perspective, I say that indeed the various parties probably have legitimate concerns but that should not stand in the way of such great opportunity that the regional integration presents. Our leaders must for once put their egos in a case and consider the interests of citizens as primary. Tanzania and Burundi citizens just as citizens from Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda all have a lot to gain from this regional integration. The job market has widened and having a coastline that stretches from Kenya to Tanzania will be the best news that can happen to us as East Africans; we can seize this to boost our economy, increase our bargaining power on the world market and open ourselves to vast opportunities abroad.

Africa and Africans must hold unto integration because it is the best chance we have at redeeming ourselves from a dependency syndrome that has more or less become a part of our culture. Strong unions like the USA and EU shall continue to bulldoze us if we do not set up our own bodies. Of course the purpose should not be for us to fight “them” but rather to work together in a “win-win” relationship where we have as much to offer as we take. The East African region is by far one of the richest regions in terms of natural resources and human resource; Uganda is in the process of mining oil, Tanzania has vast opportunities in Agriculture, Rwanda is developing an organized public service sector, Kenya is a hub for trade, Burundi is an emerging economy with various prospects and all countries have great tourism potential, hydro electricity production amidst other endowments. The recent growth in investment in the region is evidence the world recognises the potential that we have.

There is a possibility that after a full economic integration, the East African shilling will probably be the strongest single currency in Africa and this should generate enough motivation for the political leaders and citizens in the region. However, it is also reason for resistance from those that do not want to see us organized and independent. There is also a great advantage that the region has a single common language in form of “Swahili” which too will help in uniting the region, easing trade and enabling political integration.

Indeed, the challenges of the East African region are also many. Socially, the region is made up of the widest number of ethnic groupings each boasting of a strong attachment to their identity and culture, the political organization and systems are also different; Uganda has a leader who has been in power for over 27 years and the country’s constitution has no term limits to its presidency, Kenya has recently adopted a new constitution in which they have adopted an American style democracy, Rwanda is a strict organized political establishment boasting a by far most exemplary national leadership. All these are challenges that I deem will and are being considered by the leaders of these countries.

However, Civilisations, empires and regimes have been built from nothing but as East Africa, we already have a lot to boast of and therefore must harness faith in our regional integration because of the various prospects it presents. We must for once focus not on our challenges and differences but on the prospects and forge a way forward. Our political leaders must listen to the voices of their people and not their egos in deciding the future of our region.

I have spent the weekend in the Western Kenya Districts of Matungu and Mumias meeting a couple of youth groups discussing future prospects and projects we want to work on together as a single East African people. I have been to Rwanda and Kenya in the past few months and I cannot put in words the joy I feel at the easy immigration procedures I have to go through as compared those from other regions and countries. We have already started tasting the cake and God forbid if we let go of such a great opportunity. So, hold on East Africa, we need this!

Kampala, Uganda

You must be to comment.
  1. omar

    Hopefully, a more regional mindset is in Africa’s future. Integration is the solution to the legacy of colonial created borders..

  2. Ssekandi Ssegujja Ronald

    Thanks Omar for the observation. The approach we seem to be taking is one of small blocks which we hope can later be built on to form an integration for the entire continent.

More from Ssekandi Ssegujja Ronald

Similar Posts

By Krishna Singh

By Shaista Nazir

By shakeel ahmad

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below