Project to improve nutrition launched
The project to be implemented in 10 districts for the next five years is funded by the Netherland Embassy, targeting chi ...
By Geoffrey Mutegeki and Adam Gule
Journalists @New Vision
FOOD | NUTRITION | HUNGER
ADJUMANI - Ensuring access to nutritious, safe and affordable food will be a key driver to development of Uganda, this is according to the Minister for Local Government, Raphael Magyezi.
“Hungry people cannot develop. They cannot be innovative. If you miss meals for a day, the next day you can’t do anything. That is how food is important and should ensure people have food,” Magyezi said.
He made the remarks on Wednesday during the launch of the Right to Grow project in Adjumani district.
The project to be implemented in 10 districts for the next five years is funded by the Netherland Embassy, targeting children below the age of five.
In Adjumani, Yumbe and Kikube districts, the project will be implemented by Action Against Hunger where at least $1.25m will be spent in the next five years.
Other benefiting districts are Kamwenge, Bulisa, Kakumiro, Maracha, Bugweri and Kabale.
These interventions come at a time where an estimated 10 million Ugandans go to bed hungry every day yet Uganda is considered a food basket.
A basic right, the right to adequate and nutritious food, which most people take for granted, remains a distant dream for those who fight with food shortages every day of their lives.
Magyezi said it shaming that in Uganda there are still people going hungry.
“It is a shame that 50 years after independence we still have people going to bed hungry yet we are in the middle of plenty,” Magyezi said.
He revealed that the initiative by Action Against Hunger should be expanded to ensure refugees feed themselves and have healthy lives.
“If we gave them land to work for themselves, they can produce food and feed themselves. We shouldn’t just let them wait for food rations. They should produce eat and sell,” Magyezi said.
Albert Siminyu, the Country Director Action Against Hunger said their interventions are aimed at ending hunger in Uganda.
“Twelve months ago, these farmers were not able to feed themselves, but now they can produce what is enough to eat and sell. They cannot go hungry anymore,” Siminyu said.
He said, their programs are aligned with the Parish Development Model which government is soon going to implement.
“They can also produce food all year round, even under harsh temperatures and support the production of at least five varieties of vegetables at a time,” Siminyu says.
According to the Right to Grow Project Coordinator, Gerald Kato the initiative is aimed at addressing the crisis around food security, nutrition and WASH in Uganda.
“We want to see the number of malnourished and stunted children reduce in the next five years by enabling parents produce nutritious food to feed them,” Kato said.
According to UNICEF, over 2.4 million children in Uganda are stunted due to lack of iron, zinc and vitamin A in their diet, an irreversible condition.
The benefiting districts were selected basing on their statistics on malnutrition. Two sub counties from each district will benefit.
According to reports children who are properly nourished during the first 1,000 days of their lives are 33% more likely to escape poverty as adults.
Miriam Akiror, the Communication and Advocacy Coordinator, Action Against Hunger revealed nutrition is key for development and success of government programs.
“You cannot talk about securing the future of Uganda without focusing on food and nutrition. We are working with government to help Ugandans grow and consume nutritious foods but also sell excess and buy books for their children,” Akiror said.
She explained that the project is embraced on the Parish Development Model (PDM), pillar one which is about production, storage, processing and marketing and Pillar 7 on Governance and Administration.
“We want to empower communities to advocate for increased budget allocation on food and nutrition,” Akiror said.
The PDM is a development approach conceived under the third Development Plan (NDP III) and prescribed by the NRM Manifesto 2021-2026.
“We need to ensure people feed on nutritious food. This will reduce on the money we spend treating some of the diseases in health facilities, like anaemia,” Akiror said.
The Yumbe District LCV chairperson Abdu Mutalib Asiku challenged government to increase funding to the district and establish irrigation systems to improve food production.
“Here agriculture is mainly rain-fed which is not sustainable. We have very many long dry spells but if we have water for irrigation we can produce more food,” Asiku said.