Political will has the answer to eradicating Uganda’s hunger

the world produces two billion metric tons of grain per annum which is 16
percent more than is needed. And Uganda produces enough food for every
individual. Yet some 30 percent of Ugandans go hungry and up to 80 percent of
children drop out of school largely for lack of school lunches. This is
happening because our leaders have not mustered the political will and
commitment to food insecurity.

end hunger Ugandans need to understand – first and foremost – that eating
adequate food is not a privilege – but a birth right which was formalized in
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Article 25 states “Everyone
has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of
himself and his family including food…” It was elaborated in the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights of 1966. Article 11
“recognizes the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living … including
adequate food” and “the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger…” The right to food was further elaborated in
1999 with General Comment 12 by the United Nations Committee on the Covenant
which stresses that adequate food is realized “when every man, woman, and
child, alone or in community with others, has the physical and economic access
at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement” In 2004 FAO adopted
guidelines to help governments meet their obligations.

food means an amount and variety to meet all of one’s nutritional needs for a
healthy and active life. Therefore the right to food is more than the right to
basic staples such as maize, cassava or plantains which Ugandans are
increasingly relying upon. It also means eating uncontaminated food or drinking
safe water.

right to food has been recognized in the 1995 Uganda Constitution. “The state
shall take appropriate steps to encourage people to grow and store adequate
food; establish national food reserves; and encourage and promote proper
nutrition through mass education and other appropriate means in order to build
a healthy state”.

national and international instruments, governments – including that of Uganda
– have the responsibility to ensure that all people living within their borders
have the means to feed themselves.

let us be clear. The right to food does not mean that people will sit back and
demand free food from government. They will produce or work to purchase it. The
government should create an enabling environment so that Ugandans can feed themselves.
But when that fails the government has a legal and moral obligation to extend a
helping hand.

a start, the government should increase budget allocation to agriculture to 10
percent by 2010 as agreed in the declaration on agriculture and food security
of the AU Summit. According to 2008 figures Uganda allocated a mere 3.8 percent
lower than 4.2 percent in the previous budget.

government should strive to increase the budget to help restore soil fertility,
improve water management, control animal and crop diseases, improve storage and
processing facilities, improve transport and communications and extension
services. These improvements will increase productivity, reduce wastage,
improve longevity and transport from surplus to deficit areas. Therefore,
authorities should not deprive farmers of land and water for agriculture without
comprehensive and participatory consultations and agreement with farmers should
a valid need arise.

policies regarding food sovereignty and renewed support to small and medium
scale farmers need to be adopted and implemented.

sovereignty means the ability of communities to control their own food supplies
– to stay on the land, have a say in what is produced, under what conditions
and what is imported and exported to maintain the right to food. The free trade
model – which Uganda adopted – has faded as an engine to end poverty and

is enough evidence that small scale farmers are productive and efficient so
they should be helped – not replaced by large farmers – as underscored at a
United Nations sponsored international conference on food security for all in Madrid,
Spain in January 2009.

political will and commitment Uganda can easily become a hunger free country it
once was.