Hivos East Africa

East Africa

Sustainable Food

(Photo by Tamara Kaunda for our partner IIED.)

In an era of shrinking civic space across the globe, avenues for citizens to participate in key decision making are few.  Slow Food Uganda, one of the implementing partners of Hivos under the Sustainable Diets for All programme is using a legislative model as an avenue through which citizens can voice pertinent issues around the food system in Buikwe District, Uganda.

We invest in a world where entrepreneurial local people are developing new solutions for some of the most challenging problems of our time. There are many other options for sustainably increasing food production and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers that we should look at first before considering investing in GM technology.

While acknowledging the lack of international consensus on the risks and benefits of using genetic modification (GM) technology, Hivos has strong reasons to be very cautious about the use and promotion of genetically modified crops.

Media reports in Uganda two weeks ago revealed that butchers are using formalin to extend the shelf-life of meat. Formalin — a substance meant to preserve dead bodies has become popular in butcheries as it also keeps flies away raising the question of food safety in Uganda. As a result, a few people were implicated and sentenced to eight months in prison after confirmatory tests.  However, the bigger concern on food safety should be eminently adressed. The disconnect in existing laws and the reality of unsafe food consumed is evident.

 The Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Bill puts the future of Uganda under threat: Slow Food offers a different way forward.

Uganda’s food production has been on a steady decline owing to climate change coupled with a growing population. The shifting scale of food production has brought with it extremities such as malnutrition and hunger in sub-regions such as Karamoja, Teso and Lango.

Migration is fast emerging as a key topic and a nuanced understanding considers it as a livelihood diversification strategy for individual aspirations thus viewed as part of wider development. On the other hand and imperatively, its occurrence for others is often due to limitation of choices resulting from adverse political, environmental and economic situations, and ultimately, resulting in harmful effects such as increased pressure in the hosting environment.

On the surface at least, modern foods systems appear to be astonishingly diverse. A person walking into a supermarket almost anywhere in the world can be overwhelmed by the profusion of choices. The productivity of our food systems is also impressive: between 1961 and 2001, crop yields more than doubled in all regions of the developing world except Africa

Healthy eating habits and practices have been replaced by unhealthy and consumption of less diverse and less nutritious foods.  The compromised eating trends are incidentally an occurence among both low and high income populations. Among the latter it is attribued to among other reasons climate change which has affected agricultural productivity amidst competing households economic needs. In middle and high income populations in urban settlements, a mix of factors ranging from busy work schedules and time constraints have led to the increase in consumption of fast foods.

A recent report by the National Planning Authority in Uganda has revealed that the country is still among those where levels of hunger remain high (NPA, 2017). According to this report, the daily diet of Ugandans only comprises 1,860 calories instead of 2,200, which indicates the country may not attain Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Two. SDG 2 commits countries to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

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