Solve Uganda’s food challenge
Posted Thursday, October 17 2013 at 01:00
The country does not need a food and nutrition authority to effectively guide the population on healthy eating...
On Wednesday, the world marked the International Food Day with one sad reality: While the world is growing richer in gross terms, more of its people are going hungry every day. While some suffer malnutrition, a few, especially the emerging middle class in many of the developing world, are suffering over nutrition.
Two challenges exist that governments and NGOs need to focus their attention on. In a country like Uganda, one part of the country starves to death while another throws away excess food while remaining financially poor due to lack of linkages to connect areas that produce plenty with those that produce little or nothing. The country should put in place means to deliver food to those who need it and money to those who have food in plenty but no money in their pockets.
However, that is just but part of the problem. An area most ignored is focus on what those who believe they have food are actually putting in their stomachs. Discussions about food have concentrated on putting enough in the tummy without discussing exactly what it is that is being consumed!
Attention to the nutritional content of what we consume has gone largely unnoticed and the main concern of leaders has often reached such pathetic levels of encouraging our children in free government education programmes to, for example, park left over food for lunch when the debate about a midday meal have arisen.
More than the lack of what to eat, eating foods with low or no nutritional value at all has given Uganda the unenviable position of having 54 per cent of its young people suffering stuntedness. The immediate and long-term effects of which will linger for years.
On the other hand, the emergence of Western lifestyles that equate class with fast food and stuffing of refrigerators with industrial sugar drinks like sodas, high fat content foods like sausages, a section of Ugandan children are becoming obese.
The country must ask what happened to the Food and Nutrition Bill that briefly made an appearance at Cabinet level four years ago and then disappeared into oblivion. The country does not need a food and nutrition authority to effectively guide the population on healthy eating—the likely bottleneck to having that Bill processed.