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Sustainable food systems: Parliament is the game-changer

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Added 12th May 2020 06:13 PM

In the 1995 Constitution of The Republic of Uganda: The right to food is not included in Chapter 4 “BILL of Rights” section

Sustainable food systems: Parliament is the game-changer

In the 1995 Constitution of The Republic of Uganda: The right to food is not included in Chapter 4 “BILL of Rights” section

By Peter Ssonko

A food system is the full set of actors, resources, processes and activities that encompass the domains of food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and food waste disposal and the outcomes of these activities, including nutrition and health, socioeconomic wellbeing, and environmental quality as well as the feedbacks, tradeoffs, and synergies between these outcomes.

General Comment 12 of the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1999) of the United Nations concluded that the Right to Adequate Food is realised when every man, woman, and child, alone or in a community with others, have physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement. This had been earlier pronounced International Laws: The Universal Declaration of Human rights (Art. 25(1) &; in The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1977) (Art. 11(1), to which latter Uganda ratified in 1987 and committed to Respect, protect, and fulfill this right, and the head of state attended the World Food Summits (1996, 2002).

Parliament sits on the Ugandan's right to food

In the 1995 Constitution of The Republic of Uganda: The right to food is not included in Chapter 4 "BILL of Rights" section, thus not legally binding. However, it is recognized under National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy were; Objective xxii states that "The state shall take appropriate steps to;

i. Encourage people to grow and store enough food,

ii. Establish national food reserves,

iii. Promote nutrition through mass education and other means to build a healthy state".

Art. 8(A) (1) stipulates that Uganda shall be governed based on principles of national interest and common good enshrined in the national objectives and directives principles of state policy.

Art. 8(A) (2) parliament shall make relevant laws for purposes of giving full effect to clause (1) above.

Art. 45 supports this since it stipulates that the rights, duties, declarations, and guarantees relating to fundamental and other human rights and freedoms specifically mentioned in Chapter 4 "the BILL of Rights" shall not be regarded as excluding others that are not specifically mentioned.

The Long-Waited turning point

Parliament should enact a law to gazette Objective xxii from the mere National Objective and Directive Principles of State Policy to Chapter 4 "Bill of Rights". This must be followed by direct primary legislation that creates institutions mandated to promote food security and nutrition. This will ensure the sustainability of funding through government commitment in National budgets and enable coordination of respective entities as well as mobilization of non-state actors.

In reference to the articles cited above, the new law must create an autonomous body and governance structures to coordinate Food Systems Improvement issues right from community to national level, and support implementation of other legislation impacting on food security and nutrition across all relevant sectors. The draft food and nutrition bill (2009) which expired on the

shelves of Parliament before being tabled for any reading can be re-arranged and reinforced to suit this vision.

Otherwise, apparently, there is no Legal national entity responsible for coordinating or promoting food security and improved nutrition as well as sustainable food systems. This has hindered the effective implementation of the best food policies which are passed in Uganda but actualized implementation is done by our neighbors.

Unless an enabling law is put in place, Uganda is more likely not to achieve the Global Sustainable Development Goals come 2030 and National Vision 2040 due to the escalating levels of hunger, unacceptable malnutrition rates and environmental pollution leading to reduced productivity of the steadily increasing "world's youngest population".

Nutritionist (Volunteer) @ Natural Chemotherapeutics Research Institute (MOH)
ssonkopeter1@gmail.com

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