Part of being labelled a “3rd World Country” comes with carrying different burdens. It comes with dealing with issues that must be tackled to achieve the momentum required to move forward, for instance; poverty and poor infrastructure. The SDG’s for 2020 by the United Nations (UN) outline major areas that are targeted for improvement for the decade. These goals have been the driver of activities especially in relation to 3rd world countries. They tackle everything from climate change, unemployment, education, poverty to health among others. Most of these are issues that have been pending improvement in Uganda for the past decade. Significant resources, both local and international will be channelled to alleviate the issues highlighted under this global agenda.
The SDGs are designed to be a “blue print to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. With regards to businesses or potential initiatives that require funding, this presents a unique opportunity to align projects with source of funding. This article will address the opportunities presented in context to Uganda and will point towards strategic areas where to change is needed in line with the SDG on alleviating poverty and hunger.
Goal 1- No Poverty
According to the United Nations, more than 700 million people still leave in extreme poverty. “Extreme’ stretches to the lack of the most basic needs like health, education, water & sanitation. 10% of the entire population is leaving on less than 1.9$ a day. One of the causes stems from unemployment which is a big block in the midst of the country. The report also indicates that 8% of employed workers leaved in extreme poverty. Jobs do not guarantee provision and low wages coupled with an increasing cost of living have not made the situation any more favourable.
The national poverty level increased to 21.4% as of 2018 According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS). Government programs have been aggressive in trying to combat these numbers and this points to continued efforts in the next decade. “The government through the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) as of Tuesday, January 14, 2020, signed nine grants contracts amounting to EUR 27 million (UGX.114.5b) for implementing development projects in poverty-stricken districts of Northern Uganda.
The affirmative action programme is part of the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU), a government project, supported by European Union aimed at improving livelihoods in the five sub-regions of Acholi, Karamojong, Lango, Teso and West Nile (PML Daily,2020). This project is expected to run for a period of 6 years spanning across 37 districts with a focus on nutrition & livelihood, food security, infrastructure and good governance. The EU is also a partner on this project with the Government of Uganda. There will be more traction in this area as Uganda looks to revitalise Its economy so the right projects with clear goals and output will be just a peach.
Goal 2- Zero Hunger
This comprehensively covers how we grow, share and consume food. A balanced mix of what strategies are being implemented for agriculture, forestry amongst others. Agriculture is a massive part of most African economies; however, this does not tally up with the fact that Sub Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of hunger as the rate spiked up to 23.2% in 2017. Under nourished people in the same region went from 195 million to 237 million in 2017. 821 million people who are undernourished (UN,2019). This global challenge presents a number of openings along the line of a change in the agricultural system to include climate resilient farming, regenerative farming.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, 80% of Uganda’s total land area is arable. Compared to Israel, whose arable land is only 13.6% of her total land area, yet, Israel is a leading exporter of Fresh produce and world leader in Agricultre. Isreal’s pre-eminence is attributable to her innovation eco-system, markets – orientation, combined role of government collaborating with farmers and a focus on problem solving, as reported, by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. Low investment in the commercialisation of agricultural sector in Uganda has held the country back in spite of the enormous potential. There are lessons and opportunities to learn from Israel’s success in Agriculture, with a much less proportion of arable land. Investment in agriculture will be key in boosting productivity and increasing food production. In the next edition, we shall address opportunities arising from two other SDGs.
Joshua Stephen Kawanguzi