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

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora