By Nelson Mandela Muhoozi.
About 23 percent of Uganda’s population is severely food insecure, according to Uganda-United Nations Country Results Report 2022.
Putting Uganda’s population at 44.2 million according to the report, it means that over 10 million Ugandans are severely food insecure.
Region-wide, the highest levels of food insecurity were observed in the poorest Eastern and Northern regions.
According to Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO), someone is severely food insecure when they have run out of food and gone a day or more without eating. In other words, they have most likely experienced hunger according to FAO.
The Uganda-UN Country Results report highlights a myriad of climate-related emergencies and shocks that the Country experienced in 2022 including COVID- 19, floods, Ebola outbreak, the refugee influx, and the high refugee influx from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Karamoja region most affected.
Since 2019, the Karamoja Sub-region of Uganda has suffered from two consecutive seasons of increasing food insecurity characterized by less than normal crop and animal production attributed to drought, floods, livestock and crop disease, scarcity of water for human and animal consumption, and price shocks.
As a result, the region has seen a significant increase of food insecure people. World bank’s 2022 report indicates that during round 9 of the survey conducted in August 2022, food insecurity measured by moderate and severe food insecurity indexes were at very high levels of 48 and 11 percent respectively.
This further indicates that the problem has escalated by 12 percent. In June, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) working group comprising the Ministry of Agriculture, Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Health, WFP, FAO and UNICEF released a report that showed that over 40 percent of the population, in the nine districts of Karamoja were facing crisis levels of food insecurity or worse.
This, according to the IPC report, was a 10th higher than the percentage of people facing high levels of food insecurity around the same period in 2021 which was at 30 percent. This meant that the situation had gotten worse.
Tackling the problem.
Agnes Kirabo, the Executive Director of Food Rights Alliance said they agree with the UN report, however, she said that it is slightly away from the actual figures.
She said the food crisis is a systemic issue that needs to be tackled from the leadership aspect. “The problem is rooted in the country’s food governance system. Uganda does not know how much food is need to feed its people in a year. There are no sufficient food reserves in the country. How then do we expect to combat this challenge,” Kirabo said.
She added, “If we only spend about 9 percent of our budget on productive programs how do we expect to increase food production.”
“Let the government be intentional on this issue, know how much food is needed in the country, work on food reserves and drive investments in areas that spur productivity in the agriculture sector,” Kirabo stated.
According to the Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Anyakun Esther Lavinia Karamoja region faced a pro-longed dry spell that affected food security leaving behind 25% of the population (about 315,000 people) experienced high levels of acute food insecurity between June and August 2022.
However, Anyakun said that Karamoja Sub-region was in April allocated 2,260,000 Kgs of Maize Flour, and 1,130,000 Kgs of Beans to cover 115 administrative areas, including all Sub-Counties and Town Councils in the region.
She said that together with the Ministery of Agriculture, they have embarked on initiatives to improve food production through the deployment of tractors aimed at opening and plowing substantial land for sustainable food production.
Anyakun said that Fifteen tractors have been deployed starting Nabiiatuk and Kaabong, two i 50- HP tractors based in Napak, a fuel tanker, a mobile workshop, and 30 walking tractors.
The Minister of State for Agriculture Fred Bwiino Kyakulaga, said the Government through the Ministry of Agriculture is working in conjunction with the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), and the Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) to support scientists to fight Cassava Brown Streak Disease that damaged the cassava crop, causing loses to our farmers.
“Through the partnership, we are working to promote proven and cost-effective measures against the diseases that threatened to wipe out various crops, including banana crop, maize, and cassava among others,” he said.