Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | Ugandan farmers are among the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures
in Africa according to research released on Oct.16 by Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), an independent international development organisation that works to empower communities in developing countries.
The VSO survey which was published to coincide with World Food Day was conducted in June and July across Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria. It asked 1,800 farmers and SMEs to rate how the pandemic has affected their livelihoods on a scale of not at all to severely. A significant percentage of farmers told the researchers that they are facing huge financial challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures.
Twenty-three per cent of those interviewed across the five countries said a lack of cash had reduced their food intake. The highest proportion was amongst Ugandans where more than 38% of the respondents reported reducing their food intake. The respective figures for reducing food intake were 25% of Tanzanians, 24% in Nigeria, 21% in Kenya and 15% in Ethiopia.
Other coping mechanisms included taking out loans or borrowing, using up previous stocks, and relying on government and NGO support. Twenty three percent of the respondents relied on borrowing, another 24% consumed previous stocks, over 9% received government support and over 7% received support from NGOs. Of those who rated the issue as severe, 15% were receiving no support at all from governments and NGOs.
“What comes through in our surveys is a sense of urgency, people are telling us they will soon run out of options, their current coping strategies such as reducing food intake or borrowing money from friends and family, will no longer be feasible within a short time, certainly by the new year,”said Ruchi Tripathi, the Global Practice Lead for Resilient Livelihoods at VSO.
“In the short-term, urgent action is needed in terms of food and cash assistance to the most marginalised communities, women and other groups around the world,” she said, “There is an opportunity to ensure any food purchased is from local smallholder farmers to support their livelihoods and revive local economies. But beyond that, we need to build a more food secure future for the long term.”
In April this year the government distributed relief food to about 1.5 million urban poor who were affected by the lockdown as a measure to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. But it appears it needs to do more.
The VSO study follows another recent nationwide analysis by the Uganda government and UN humanitarian agencies which found people in nine urban areas to be at “crisis level” of food insecurity thanks to negative impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the Ministry for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Kampala Capital City Authority, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and WFP participated in the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis. The European Union, World Bank and UK Aid funded the exercise.
The analysis was informed in part by real-time data gathered by remote telephone monitoring of households in 13 urban areas, refugee hosting districts and Karamoja region in the northeast.
According to the analysis, one in three people in the towns of Gulu, Jinja and Kasese struggled to find nutritious food on a regular basis during the lockdown. The IPC attributed the crisis food insecurity to the loss of livelihoods in the informal sector, tourism, the travel and events industry and the education sector, reduced remittances and reduced commercial networks due to the closure of borders.
Using real-time and other data, the IPC found that refugees in all 13 settlements in Uganda along with more than 1.4 million Ugandans in refugee-hosting districts and Karamoja region experienced crisis or worse levels of hunger between June and August. In Karamoja, all districts had worrying levels of malnutrition among young children and pregnant and nursing women, with malnutrition above emergency levels in Moroto and Napak.
The assessment also found that between February and August, rates of life-threatening malnutrition were above emergency levels in Moroto and Napak in Karamoja. The rest of the region’s districts were in Alert, meaning they also have relatively high levels of malnutrition.
Poor diets, chronic food shortages, poor sanitation and high levels of diarrhoea and malaria were cited as major contributors to the situation. High workloads for mothers and therefore reduced time for breastfeeding and other childcare were also cited as driving malnutrition.
Original Post: New Vision Wire
Kigezi In Famine Scare After Drought Hits The Region
Farmers in Rubanda district are living in fear that they may be hit by famine due to the prolonged drought that has greatly affected the area. This comes after the area was hit by heavy rains in the month of May 2023, which left most of the gardens washed away, and since then the dry season has started up to date.
This is the first of its kind for Rubanda district and Kigezi at large to undergo such a prolonged drought.
According to farmers, this is the first of its kind for Rubanda to go through a long drought, adding that they are in fear that they may be hit by famine since they were used to receiving rains at the beginning of August, which is not the case this year. They add that even the seedlings that they had planted excepting that the rains would come have all dried up by the long spell.
Farmers also say that they don’t know what could be the cause that has stopped the rains,adding that the government should come up with a program that provides them with seedlings.
Akampurira Prossy Mbabazi, a woman Member of Parliament for Rubanda District, says that the issue of drought is not only in Rubanda District; however, this is the first of its kind. She adds that the drought comes after the area was hit by heavy rains, which caused a lot of challenges, adding that now it is the drought that may affect the farmers.
Akampurira further says that, as a leader,she will continue to educate farmers on better methods of farming depending on climate change.
Kikafunda Evelyne, founder of Green Environment Promotion (GEP), says it’s sad that farmers in Rubanda district and Kigezi at large are experiencing a long drought. She attributes it to problems of environmental degradation that include swamps being reclaimed, deforestation, and plastic pollution, adding that this is an indication that people don’t mind about the environment.
Kikafunda calls upon all people to take part in protecting the environment, adding that environmentalists should devise means on how to protect the environment.
It’s now been four months since it last rained in the districts of greater Kabale, that is, Rubanda, Kabale, and Rukiga districts, as well as other parts of the Kigezi Subregion.
Ban GMOs in Africa, farmers urge govts
A cross section of residents from the oil-rich Albertine Region have petitioned African heads of state to ban genetically modified organism (GMOs) and crops across the continent to save Africa’s indigenous crops and animal species from extinction.
The August 26, petition addressed to President William Ruto of Kenya, the Chairperson of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, asks African heads of states who are meeting this week for Africa Climate Dialogue to pass strong resolutions to ban GMOs.
Africa Climate Dialogue kicks off today in Nairobi, Kenya under the theme “Driving green growth and climate finance solutions for Africa and the World.”
Co-hosted by the Kenya and the African Union Commission, it brings together heads of state and Government, policymakers, civil society organisations, the private sector, multilateral institutions and the youth to design and catalyse actions and solutions for climate change in Africa.
The petitioners under the Uganda Oil Refinery Residents, have made a raft of recommendations including passing a strong resolution to immediately ban the use and promotion of GMO products in African countries, a resolution for promotion of indigenous species of plant seeds and animals in all African states and another resolution to increase budget allocation for agriculture with focus on research in preservation and conservation of indigenous species of plants and animals in Africa.
“This will contribute to knowledge sharing and awareness creation on the relevance of indigenous species as a response to climate change,” the petition recommends, adding: “Lastly, pass resolution to integrate indigenous agriculture practices in education curriculum in some relevant subjects like agriculture and biology in all African countries. This will enable preservation and increased knowledge among the young people on the need to preserve and promote indigenous species.”
The petitioners, drawn from Kabaale and Busheruka sub-counties in Hoima District Uganda where there are planned oil refineries and other infrastructure, say GMOs present a number of risks and their introduction onto the continent could have a huge negative impact on food security, indigenous crops and organisms, health risks and associated problems.
The petitioners say while different African states have made a number of policies, laws and commitments regarding climate change, including integrating the aspect of climate justice into their different state legislations, as a grass root community whose livelihood entirely depends on agriculture, they still believe that leaders have not done enough to respond to these calamities.
“The major concern is about the use and promotion of genetically modified organisms [for both plants and animals] in Africa.
Uganda, whose backbone is agriculture, once known for its indigenous plants and animals now faces many difficulties in dealing with these invasive species. Maintenance and management strategies of these species require a lot of capital in terms of purchasing inputs such as fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides, among others,” the petition reads in part.
The petitioners say with the worsening climate change, the introduction of one season fast maturing plants has made it difficult for farmers to plan. They argue that GMOs, which they claim are invasive species onto the continent, cannot withstand climate change and weather vagaries and therefore increase food insecurity on the continent.
“As earlier stated, these species require many inputs in terms of chemicals like fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, processed feeds, and vaccines, among others that are all expensive for the ordinary African farmers,” they add in the petition.
The petitioners also contend that in Africa, more than 85 percent of grass root communities heavily rely on rain-fed agriculture and that the ‘invasive species’ are not resistant and not compatible with the local environmental conditions.
“As such, they require effective irrigation as an alternative, which is extremely expensive for grass root communities. Whereas these GMOs were initially introduced as a solution to enhance agricultural productivity and food security, there has been a concerning trend of a financial strain on communities due to the high costs associated with these invasive species,” the petition states.
“Buying seasonal seeds for planting and agricultural inputs to manage these species among others is not sustainable and oftentimes leads to significant drain of limited financial resources within the communities. The local farmers are often compelled to divert funds from other essential needs such as education, healthcare and basic infrastructure development,” the petition adds.
They also say there is an increased outbreak of pests and disease, which is attributed to the increase in temperatures caused by the changing climate. Unfortunately, they say, GMOs are prone to attack by these pests and diseases.
They also say the GMOs present huge health risks to the local communities, who are illiterate and do not understand the precautions to follow while using these pesticides and herbicides.
This, according to the petition, exposes the users to high risks of contracting diseases through ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact that can lead to acute and chronic health related issues.
“These include respiratory diseases, skin irritations, neurological disorders, and even certain types of cancers in the end. Most grass root women are also worried about the consumption of these genetically modified organisms since they are mainly treated with chemicals; others are injected with hormones to increase their shelf-life spans,” the petition states.
Source: Daily Monitor
NEBBI: Livestock disease kills 14,000 goats
Nebbi, Uganda. The Nebbi district veterinary department is struggling to contain an outbreak of the Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP), a disease which is highly fatal in cattle and other hoofed animals.
At least 14,650 goats have died and 53,397 goats have been infected following the outbreak of the disease which was first reported in 2022.
According to the local authorities, the disease has since spread to a cross all the sub counties like Erussi, Nebbi ,Alala Jupangira Atego ,Ndhew and Kucwiny as well as Nebbi Municipality.
Moreen Awekonimungu, a livestock farmer in Nebbi Municipality says that she has so far lost three goats since the outbreak was reported a year ago. She further notes that an infected animal dies within two weeks after presenting with signs and symptoms of the disease.
The Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP) is an infectious disease caused by mycoplasmas and it mostly affects ruminants.
The diseases are transmitted through direct contact and inhalation of droplets from infected animals. Symptoms include fever, nasal discharge, coughing, difficult respiration, edema, and lung tissue abnormalities.
Emmauel Ongeitho, the Nebbi Municipality assistant veterinary officer blames the persistence of the diseases on the poor attitude of farmers against vaccination of their livestock. According to Ongeitho several farmers shunned the mass vaccination exercise which resulted in a spike in livestock deaths.
According to Dr. William Abedkane, the principal veterinary Officer for Nebbi district, the outbreak which started last year has been killing goats silently since farmers are hesitant to report the cases to the veterinary officers in their respective sub counties.
Abedkane further appealed to farmers to pay attention to animal health just like they do with their own health.
According to information from the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the outbreak of Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP disease was first confirmed in Uganda in 1995 in Karamoja region.
Original Source: URA Via The Independent.
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