News / Africa

Remarkable Partnership Helps Uganda Solve Food Security Issues

Team members check on their aquaculture venture where the community raises such fish as tilapia and catfish, in Naminya, Uganda, December 2011.
Team members check on their aquaculture venture where the community raises such fish as tilapia and catfish, in Naminya, Uganda, December 2011.
Ivan Broadhead

Uganda has experienced steady economic growth compared to many other African nations. 
But the country is experiencing something of a twofold, evolving food security crisis. A remarkable partnership between one Ugandan community and a young American nurse is helping to overcome local food security problems.

Like many people around the world, Ugandans are finding it increasingly difficult to afford a balanced diet. On the supply side, farmers in the north have seen harvests affected by the drought that has decimated the Horn of Africa, while crops in the east have been destroyed by torrential rains.

There also is strong regional demand for those crops that Uganda does bring to market, both from newly-independent South Sudan, and from Kenya as it attempts to feed the 500,000 Somalis living in refugee camps on its northern border.

Women rise to challenge

Frederick Kawooya of the anti-poverty agency Action Aid International says the result is inflation in food prices that has exceeded 20 percent this year alone. The agency estimates that 8 million Ugandans are now not able to afford a balanced diet.

“The solution is not rocket science. We need to empower women because women in Uganda, and I think in Africa in general, are the custodians of food. Empowering a woman is empowering a household, is empowering a nation,” said Kawooya.

That is the theory. But pick up a Ugandan newspaper on any given day, and chances are you will come across a story about the marginalization of women in Ugandan society - whether domestic violence, or a mother struggling to support children in a household where the father spends the food budget on alcohol.

Pioneering project


In Naminya village, however, in eastern Uganda, local women are involved in a pioneering project where they help control food production, as well as its distribution, and the use of the profits from their labor.

At 10:00 a.m., under a blazing sun, five women are digging into the rich, heavy earth with spades and pickaxes. It is backbreaking work. As they toil, the women keep watch over their babies and toddlers, sitting and playing on the mounds of fresh earth the women have already excavated.

Women farmers take a break with their children in the village where they are part of a pioneering project to help control food production, as well as its distribution, and the use of the profits from their labor, in Naminya, Uganda, December 2011.
Women farmers take a break with their children in the village where they are part of a pioneering project to help control food production, as well as its distribution, and the use of the profits from their labor, in Naminya, Uganda, December 2011.

The group is putting the finishing touches to a pond, one of four they have dug over the last year as part of a community fish-farming business.

Esther Basita, a mother of five, will help manage the pond and the precious stocks of tilapia and catfish it soon will contain.

“With the price of food so high, we want to be able to feed our families. From the fish ponds, we make money and get food. I manage the profit myself. I use it to pay for other foods, school fees and also solving things like family health problems," explained Basita. "We women are working equally with the men on this aquaculture business. We are just as strong, and nothing will defeat us!”

The aquaculture venture is the inspiration of an American nurse Brooke Stern, 25, from Suffern, New York. Stern visited the area after graduating from college three years ago and realized that with time, effort and seed money, she could make a significant contribution to the local community.

Fundraising with the support of family and friends back home, Stern set up an NGO (non-governmental organization) - Supporting Opportunities for Ugandans to Learn, or SOUL.

SOUL venture cuts wide swath

In two years, on the most modest of budgets, SOUL has developed an entire range of grassroots initiatives spanning health, food security, education and women’s empowerment.

A team of people in the community puts the finishing touches on a pond, one of four they have dug over the last year as part of a community fish-farming business, in Naminya, Uganda, December 2011.
A team of people in the community puts the finishing touches on a pond, one of four they have dug over the last year as part of a community fish-farming business, in Naminya, Uganda, December 2011.

We meet at the SOUL Shack - SOUL’s tiny headquarters and home to the SOUL Community Pre-School, where 80 vibrant kids are preparing for the day’s classes.

“We thought it was really important for the women to be involved - it is proved that 90 percent of a woman’s profit does go back to her children - so we work with them and teach them and motivate them in the importance of it being their project. We try to step out after our financial aid and let them lead the way,” explained Stern.

Digging complete, the community next stocks the pond with 1,000 fingerlings. In six months, with the right care and attention, these baby fish will grow large enough to provide food for the 750-member community, with the surplus going to market.

“We’re expecting two harvests a year; about 25,000 fish per harvest, one harvest to average around $12,000 [profit]. So it’s providing employment, education, profit and income, as well as food security for the local community,” said Stern.

Reaping benefits

Peterson Kyebenza, a cooperative member, said the local men have quickly seen the benefits of empowering their wives, mothers and sisters.

“We were poor. Ladies and men, working together, they earn more profit. Definitely, it has changed our lives,” said Kyebenza.

Working in partnership, the men and women of Naminya, and a young American nurse, have shown that Uganda’s food security problems can indeed be tackled.

As for their next project? After installing solar lighting at the local midwife’s house, Stern said she and the villagers may open Uganda’s first sustainable fish and chips shop in the nearby tourist town of Jinja.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid