The politics of food and the fight against hunger: Reflections and lessons from Uganda
Uganda is regarded as a success story having achieved tremendous economic progress since the end of chronic civil unrest and ethnic conflicts. However, the country faces a host of developmental challenges, especially adult and child hunger in tandem with malnutrition that threatens the core foundations of the impressive economic growth. These challenges have created conditions which led to civil strife especially among the urban poor who are most affected by hunger as opposed to the rural poor who subsist on farming. Out of desperation, some sections of the society use unconventional means to fight hunger; their frustration is often directed at the established authorities. However, factors that precipitate hunger in Uganda are poorly understood. This paper examines how Ugandan politics is being reshaped by the geopolitics of food. The objective is to provide a critical analysis of factors associated with food insecurity for the growing urban population and demonstrate that the Ugandan Government can do better to address the increasing food prices and the high cost of living. The triggers of the 2011/2012 riots in urban areas and the adequacy of the government’s response will be discussed. The impact of various factors such as international food markets, population growth and increasing demands for biofuel, on the rising food and fuel prices, will be examined. The paper also reviews other forces driving food insecurity including changes in the weather patterns, the growing middle class, the impact of government policies as well the role of increased urbanisation. The paper concludes that food insecurity for the growing Ugandan population is a
threat that can no longer be ignored. This paper argues that achieving food security especially for the urban poor, is an effective means of curtailing civil strife, violence and insecurity in Uganda. The government must be proactive in creating a foundation for food independence and national stability.
Key words: Food insecurity, politics, Uganda, price
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