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Friday,October 30,2020 08:38 AM

Plan for extra mouths

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th July 2012 03:42 PM

Whether we know it or we don’t, Uganda is undergoing massive changes. Between now and 2050, Uganda will be among 30 African countries whose populations will have more than doubled.

Whether we know it or we don’t, Uganda is undergoing massive changes. Between now and 2050, Uganda will be among 30 African countries whose populations will have more than doubled.

By Warren Nyamugasira
 
Whether we know it or we don’t, Uganda is undergoing massive changes. 
Between now and 2050, Uganda will be among 30 African countries whose vs will have more than doubled.
 
According to the United Nations World Population Prospects, of the 30 countries, Uganda and eight others will experience a change of between 150% and 200% in its population. 
 
Furthermore, by 2030, for the first time, we shall hit that landmark where half of our populations will be living in cities. By 2050, this rural to urban shift will have surpassed 62%. 
 
Between 2010 and 2025, 16 of the top 20 fastest growing cities in the world, with increased purchasing power, will be in Africa. In Eastern Africa sub-region, Kampala stands out as the giant leader among the fastest growing cities.
 
This demographic change will either be a bonus or a real liability. How our governments act pro-actively will determine the quality of population and the bonus we shall have. Uganda still claims the best spot of a well-fed country in Eastern Africa. It is third to Kenya and Tanzania in the region in terms of net trade in agricultural products. 
 
However, recently released research findings by the Makerere-based Economic Policy Research Centre to the effect that over two-thirds of our people are ‘in the horizon of food insecurity’ because population growth outstrips food crop production, are not flattering for the present and are frightening for future prospects.
 
Projections indicate that demand for food staples will double by 2020, with consumption largely driven by growing cities. Climate change means that smallholder farmers, currently responsible for production of the bulk of the food we eat, cannot continue to rely on traditional farming methods such as rainy seasons and predictable temperatures.
 
New thinking and greater political action are called for to avert the looming danger and turn the population growth into a bonus. President Museveni has for long been a believer in demographic bonus. He must lead the way in re-invigorating investment in agriculture and the food chain. In doing so, there are various categories of other African countries which are obvious allies it should team up with. 
 
The first is countries with burgeoning populations that need accelerated plans on how to feed themselves – Niger, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Somalia, Burkina Faso, Mali and Madagascar. Others are Nigeria, Benin, Rwanda, Chad, Liberia and Kenya. 
 
The second set is that of countries with bulging cities. These include Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Lilongwe and Blantyre-Limbe (Malawi), Yamaoussoukro (Ivory Coast), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Kigali (Rwanda), Mombasa and Nairobi (Kenya) and Kisangani and Lumumbashi (Democratic Republic of Congo), not to mention Lagos (Nigeria) and Cairo (Egypt), which are Africa’s most populated cities to be among the top 20 in the world. 
 
Thirdly, Uganda must work with countries such as Burundi, DRC, Chad and Eretria, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi and Rwanda, which are hunger or malnutrition hotspots. 
 
Fourthly, Uganda should seek out fellow countries with potential to feed others - the largest top 10 African countries by proportion of arable land potential – Nigeria, Malawi, Mauritius, Togo, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Burundi, Comoros and The Gambia. Also Uganda is one of the countries that are part of great African river basins that give them an added potential to feed their people at a time when fresh water will be a critical factor. It has so much going if it acts decisively, sooner rather than later.
 
In the coming days, African Leaders will be meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss boosting intra-African Trade. A civil society group will petition the Chair of African Union to make agriculture a priority (http://act.one.org/cms/sign/thrive).
 
Uganda must join those championing the removal of barriers to regional trade in food staples to help feed the people in the sub-region. 
 
For its own sake, the sake of posterity and that of fellow Africans, African leadership must act collectively to strengthen focus on agriculture. 
 
The writer is an economist and development consultant

Plan for extra mouths

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