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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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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

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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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Hungry youth resort to unsustainable agriculture options.



Young people are in an age group that requires optimum utilization of all food groups and consumption of considerable amounts of food.

However, much as Uganda can produce adequate amounts of food, not everyone can get sufficient food and the quality of food is poor, says Emmanuel Ssemakula, a programmes officer at Resilient and Wquitable Marketing Systems with Food Rights Alliance in Uganda.

He says changes in social and cultural aspects have driven the youth to consume less quality food, mostly junk foods, leaving out organic and balanced diet foods.

The inability of young people to access and afford nutritious food jeopardizes their growth, development and future productivity, says Youth Development Organisations in Uganda Led by Food Rights Alliance, a coalition that brings together Civil Social Organisations working in the field of sustainable agriculture and food security in Uganda.

It is estimated that 48.47% of Uganda’s population is between the ages of 0-14 years and 21.16% are aged between 15-24 years, according to 2022 population data. 78% of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30.

It said hungry youth most often resort to unsustainable practices such as deforestation, overfishing or unsustainable agriculture to meet their immediate food needs.

This can reduce the availability of resources for future generations, says the youth development organisation.

Also, although Agriculture employs 65% of the working population, of which 63% are youth, production is predominately in the hands of the ageing farmer population whose average age is 50 years. Worldwide, there is huge pressure on agriculture. “Nowadays, farmers are not producing a variety of foods, they are focused on crops such as maize, basic crops that can be sold commercially,” Ssemakula says.

“Quality foods such as vegetables, fruits and others that balance the diet are not produced in enough quantities.”

The youth in Uganda today are opting for non-agricultural careers in Urban areas and overseas.

According to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, the Middle East is experiencing an influx of Ugandans looking for domestic jobs with at least 7,724 migrant workers departing Uganda on a monthly average in 2022. However, youth involvement in agriculture can promote the adoption of ecofriendly practices, contributing to soil health, water conservation, and biodiversity preservation.

Uganda Friday, August 18, celebrated International Youth Day six days after the global International Youth Day celebrations held on August 12, under the theme, Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World was selected.

Green Skills include knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource efficient society. Ssemakula says the youth can plant trees.

He also says for everyone to access quality food there is need to change mindsets. “The youth have less appetite for involvement in agriculture, and are not considering the value of sustainability, yet they are the future of the next generation. The unawareness last led them to not focus on agriculture.”

He says the threat in the next few years is having a population that is only interested in eating junk food and less interested in growing and consuming organic food.

To get the youth into agriculture and growing food, Ssemakula says there is need to sensitize the youth. He says government and all institutions promoting agriculture should support the youth to access among other knowledge, finances, farm inputs, land and agriculture extension services to engage in farming.

He says there is a huge agriculture knowledge gap that must be filled and digitization of agriculture to fit the modern world, and there should also be equal participation of all demographics in terms of age groups and genders in agriculture.

According to the United Nations, seven out of 10 young people want to be actively engaged in the green transition that involves moving from a carbon-based economy to a more sustainable economy.

The interest stems from continuous warmings from environmentalists that climate change as a result of destruction of the environment will lead to changes in biodiversity- which is the variety of life on earth, consequently affecting people.

However, in Uganda, there has been massive natural resource degradation demonstrated by declining land productivity, falling forest and wetland coverage, loss of biodiversity and rising pollution levels.

Reports say the situation has been worsened by the country’s high vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change such as droughts. Consequently, Uganda is facing declining levels of growth.

However, the green transition will lead societies including the people in Uganda to achieve a sustainable way of life so that human activity no longer endangers the planet.

The green transition simultaneously generates economic, environmental and social development outcomes sustainably without leaving anyone behind including the future generations.

It will bring about improved health and social outcomes.

The green transition will also grant additional opportunities in the form of employment creation (green jobs).

A total of 8.4 million jobs will be created for young people by 2030, as a result of the green transition towards a greener world being driven by the youth.

It will spur economic growth as well as reduce future greenhouse emissions by 28% equivalent to 30.4 million tons of emissions by 2040, which is far above the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target of 22% in Uganda.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the unrelenting conviction of young people is central to keeping climate goals within reach.

He says young people have been on the frontlines leading the charge for climate justice.

In Uganda Vision 2040 emphasizes that a green economy will contribute to eradicating poverty as well as sustaining economic growth, enhancing social inclusion, improving human welfare and creating opportunities for employment and decent work for all while maintaining the healthy functioning of the ecosystems.

However, according to the United Nations, Green skills demand is exceeding supply.

It says 60% of young people will lack the skills necessary to thrive in the green economy in 2030.

The UN says some disparities must be addressed. For instance, 67% of youth do not have digital skills due to the lack of basic resources.

Also, current occupational gender stereotypes are likely to persist stemming from the fact that in 2015-2021, 66%of green job transitions were done by men.

In Uganda, discriminative social norms, gender roles and stereotypes have discouraged young women from pursuing careers in fields related to green skilling. This has limited their exposure to their exposure to these opportunities and discouraged them from taking up roles that are perceived as more “masculine.”

The lack of visible female role models in green sectors has made it difficult for young women to envision themselves succeeding in these fields.

According to the United Nations, a successful transition towards a greener world will depend on the development of green skills in the population.

Source: New Vision

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