Kampala, Uganda | PATRICIA AKANKWATSA | People living in towns are likely not to have food in the right amounts and nutritious value in the coming months, according to experts from 15 international organisations is who monitor such issues.They include United Nations agencies like the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Together they produce country-specific reports called the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) which analyse the food situation in each country.
The IPC system provides a standardised scale that integrating food security, nutrition, and livelihood information to produce a clear statement regarding the nature and severity of food insecurity, as well as implications for potential strategic responses to periods of food crisis.
The Uganda IPC which was released in Kampala says the most affected urban areas will be Kawempe and Rubaga municipalities in Kampala city in addition to Arua, Gulu, Jinja, Masaka, Mbale, Hoima, Kasese, Lira and Mukono municipalities.
The experts estimate 640,000 people representing 38% of the population in Kampala citywill between September and December face acute food insecurity and 799,000 people representing 47% will be living on the margins of food scarcity; what they call “minimally food secure”. The findings are based on research conducted between June and August 2020.
The projections appear odd because September and December correspond to the harvest period national wide, when it is expected that there is a lot of food.
But the main reason for the lack of food will not be because there is no food in the markets. The main reason will be that these people will not have money to buy the food because, according to the research, their ability to make money was blocked by the COVID-19 containment measures like the lockdown.
According to the IPC analysis, at the time research was done from June to August 2020, 17 % of Kampala residents (equivalent to 292,330 people) were experiencing worse levels of acute food insecurity and have increasing food consumption gaps and reduced dietary diversity.
But Priya Gujadhur; the deputy country director Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), says that the main assumption for the projection is that the COVID-19 containment measures have gradually eased which has allowed some informal and formal businesses to resume.
“Boda-boda activities, other road transport, specific tourism activities, saloons have started their operations allowing households to gain revenue and secure their employment”, Gujadhur says.
Alex Lwakuba the assistant commissioner for crop production and marketing at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal husbandry and Fisheries (MAAIF) says that crop production is expected to be normal and food is also expected to be available in the markets.
Lwakuba also says that the prices of food are likely to stay stable or reduce because of indicative signs in that direction.
“In September the trends of prices normally decline due to increased availability of food to the markets”, he says.
“It is also likely that because of poor purchasing power caused by COVID-19 restrictions, there will be less or limited demand in the market, resulting in decreased prices of staple food”, he adds.
However, Dr. Esau Galukende the deputy director of Gender, community services and production at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) says although food security is going to increase, it is important to continue monitoring the health side of the pandemic and its impacts on food security.
“Decision makers should continue monitoring how the pandemic is affecting employment, business, and education and understand the household level,” Galukende says.
He also says that since the establishment of COVID-19 measures and restrictions, most of the companies have turned virtual and online-based.
“It would be interesting to monitor what would be the impact of such transformations on employment and local economy”, he adds.
The Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hillary Onek, said that the Government is committed to ensuring food and nutrition security and well-being for all people in Uganda, including those in urban areas.
“With these new findings, we now know, reliably, who the most food-insecure people are in Uganda, where they are and what we can do to save lives and preserve livelihoods. Such knowledge is critical before we take any decisions,” Onek said.
” We thank our partners for working with us to come up with this very important analysis. We now must continue to work together to find solutions to the issues raised in the study”, Onek added.
“As part of the UN Uganda’s Emergency Appeal launched earlier this year, FAO has appealed $7.8 million for food security, nutrition and livelihoods interventions”, Gujadhur said.
“This will allow FAO to provide agricultural livelihood support and training in climate-smart agricultural practices to help up to 10,000 of the most vulnerable households produce for their own consumption and diversify income sources through value chain development, thereby strengthening their resilience”, she added.
Report links 1,600 deaths to pesticide poisoning
A total of 1,599 deaths between 2017 and 2022 were linked to organophosphate (pesticide) poisoning, researchers from Uganda National Institute of Public Health (UNIPH) and the Health ministry found.This information is in one of the reports presented yesterday during the 9th National Field Epidemiology Conference in Kampala.
The study led by Mr Robert Zavuga was based on the data from the District Health Information System (of the Health ministry), which is received from health facilities across the country.“A total of 37,883 (average of 6,314 per year) organophosphate (OP) [health facility] admissions and 1,599 (average of 267 per year) deaths were reported,” the report reads.
OP admission was defined by researchers as a hospital stay due to suspected OP poisoning. In contrast, OP poisoning death was defined as inpatient death with OP poisoning listed as the cause of death.The researchers linked the poisoning to the widespread use of OP pesticides by farmers in the country amid limited knowledge of how to use the pesticides safely.
“Uganda has an agricultural-based economy with widespread use of organophosphate-based pesticides. This elevates the risk for OP poisoning in the population,” the report reads further.According to the report, the overall average incidence was 15 organophosphate admissions per 100,000 persons.
On areas, sex and age that are most affected, the report indicates, “residents of Ankole Sub-region were more affected while those in Lango Sub-region were least affected.”“Males had a higher incidence of organophosphate poisoning than females. Children under 5 years had a higher incidence than persons above 5 years (20 vs 14/100,000),” the report said.
Overall, 1,599 (average of 267 per year) deaths were reported between 2017 and 2022. Residents in Kampala had the highest overall case fatality rate (CFR) while those in Teso had the lowest (CFR: 8.5 percent vs 2.2 percent),” the report reads.
According to the report released yesterday, “there was more than 3-fold decline in incidence of OP poisoning admissions per 100,000 population from 2017-2022,” however, the researchers noted, “there was no significant change in the case fatality rate of organophosphate poisoning.”
“The incidence of organophosphate poisoning admissions declined throughout the study period. Since 2014, Uganda has implemented periodic public awareness campaigns about safe use of pesticides for small-holder farmers and pesticide dealers,” the report says.
“These campaigns have included sensitisation about responsible handling to reduce risk of poisoning and environmental pollution.
Additional campaigns targeting government pesticide regulators, non-governmental organisations, and media have also been implemented to address the dangers of organophosphate poisoning,” it adds.
The report says Uganda has also implemented the Agricultural Chemical Control Act to use less toxic pesticides, which may be contributing to the reduction in organophosphate poisonings.“To continue this decline, it is important to monitor and strengthen these interventions,” the researchers from UNIPH and Health ministry recommended.
Statement: The Energy Sector Strategy 2024–2028 Must Mark the End of the EBRD’s Support to Fossil Fuels
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is due to publish a new Energy Sector Strategy before the end of 2023. A total of 130 civil society organizations from over 40 countries have released a statement calling on the EBRD to end finance for all fossil fuels, including gas.
From 2018 to 2021, the EBRD invested EUR 2.9 billion in the fossil energy sector, with the majority of this support going to gas. This makes it the third biggest funder of fossil fuels among all multilateral development banks, behind the World Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank.
The EBRD has already excluded coal and upstream oil and gas fields from its financing. The draft Energy Sector Strategy further excludes oil transportation and oil-fired electricity generation. However, the draft strategy would continue to allow some investment in new fossil gas pipelines and other transportation infrastructure, as well as gas power generation and heating.
In the statement, the civil society organizations point out that any new support to gas risks locking in outdated energy infrastructure in places that need investments in clean energy the most. At the same time, they highlight, ending support to fossil gas is necessary, not only for climate security, but also for ensuring energy security, since continued investment in gas exposes countries of operation to high and volatile energy prices that can have a severe impact on their ability to reach development targets. Moreover, they underscore that supporting new gas transportation infrastructure is not a solution to the current energy crisis, given that new infrastructure would not come online for several years, well after the crisis has passed.
The signatories of the statement call on the EBRD to amend the Energy Sector Strategy to
- fully exclude new investments in midstream and downstream gas projects;
- avoid loopholes involving the use of unproven or uneconomic technologies, as well as aspirational but meaningless mitigation measures such as “CCS-readiness”; and
- strengthen the requirements for financial intermediaries where the intended nature of the sub-transactions is not known to exclude fossil fuel finance across the entire value chain.
Download the statement: https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2023-09/ngo-statement-on-energy-sector-strategy-2024-2028.pdf
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.
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