Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Analysis on the causes of hunger in Uganda

A great analysis from Uganda's The Monitor tries to look into the root causes of hunger in the nation. In her piece, author Evelyn Lirri looks into several factors such as the armed conflict, people too poor to purchase food, failures of government, and climate change.

For our snippet, we focus on the inability to purchase food and population growth, but we encourage you to give the full article a read. We found the analysis at All Africa.

While the number of people living in abject poverty - described as living on less than a dollar, or Shs2,100 a day - has fallen from 56 per cent in 1992 to about 30 per cent today, the subsistence nature of the country's agricultural sector means many do not have cash incomes to buy food when needed.

Many of those with a cash income have simply been priced out of the food market. Figures from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics show that inflation hit double digits earlier this year on the back of high food prices as drought and exports to lucrative emerging markets put pressure on food supplies.

Food inflation, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) stood at 23.8 per cent for the year ending May 2009. The rising food prices were initially a blessing to producers, says State Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Musa Ecweru.

"The risk has been that at times they sell almost everything and at the end of the day, the money they have is not able to buy food when there is a crisis," he said.

According to Prof. Nuwagaba, while official figures put the number of Ugandans employed in the agricultural sector at 70 per cent, the reality on the ground shows many young people are quitting agriculture for petty jobs in urban centres like riding boda boda (motorcycle taxis).

Another problem contributing to Uganda's hunger is the unchecked population which is currently growing at 3.2 per cent annually, says Prof. Nuwagaba.

This means that every 20 years, the population is expected to double and by 2025, the population will be 56 million and 106 million people by 2050.

Projections for the year 2000 to 2050 indicate that a growing population will increase pressure on the available land. At the current growth rate, population density, which is around 124 people per square kilometre, will reach 233 in 2025 and 438 in 2050. Increasing land conflicts across the country are probably a pointer of things to come.

This population growth has not been matched by growth in food production; a country which had only five million people and was self-sufficient in food when the first census was carried out in 1948, is now on the brink of starvation as its tries to feed more people from a finite size of land without managing the elements.

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