Mbarara. The World Food Programme (WFP) country director, Mr El-Khidir Daloum, has challenged the academia, government and private sector to work in consortium to address challenges of hunger and stunting in the country.
Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2016 report by the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics indicates that national stunting prevalence is at 29 per cent.
Tooro and Bugisu sub-regions have the highest prevalence of stunting at 40.6 per cent and 35.9 per cent respectively. The prevalence in Karamoja is at 35.2 per cent, in Bunyoro at 34.5 per cent while West Nile stands at 33.9 per cent. In Kigezi, the prevalence is at 30.8 per cent and Ankole at 29.3 per cent. Teso and Kampala have the lowest prevalence of stunting at 14.3 per cent and 18.1 per cent respectively.
According to World Health Organaisation (WHO), stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience due to poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.
Poor cognition and educational performance, and nutrition-related chronic diseases are some of the effects of stunting.
Mr Daloum said given its resources, Uganda has potential to feed 200 million people. The current population is about 40 million people.
“Uganda has all potential from natural resources to human resources to reduce hunger; the challenge now is how to tackle stunting. The good advantage is that we have clarity of vision of where we want to be. Partnership and collective action will make a difference,” Mr Daloum said on Tuesday.
He was addressing academia, private sector, non-governmental organisations and leaders from the districts of Isingiro, Mbarara, Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa and Hoima local governments at Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Kihumuro campus.
The participants, apart from the academia, were mainly from refugee hosting districts.
Mr Daloum said the meeting was convened to create and deepen collaboration for zero hunger (by 2030) in Uganda, in line with Sustainable Development Goals.
He added that WFP’s main areas of focus between 2018-2022 include tackling the root causes of malnutrition and stunting to bring rates down in line with national and global targets, unlocking potential of small holder farmers by promoting commercialisation, empowering women and youth to connect to markets and reduce post-harvest losses, creating assets to help shield communities from food insecurity through developing community assets such as access roads, fish ponds and tree farms; and strengthening social protection and emergency response capacity.
The Minister of Local Government, Col Tom Butime, hailed WFP, which is known mainly for providing relief for people in crisis, for the initiative to promote food production.
He said government has given district agriculture officers and extension workers the necessary tools to support food production in communities.