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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid