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Uganda to host top regional food security symposium, expo in October

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija (PHOTO/Courtesy)

KAMPALA – The Climate Change Action East Africa (CCAEA) and the International University of East Africa (IUEA) have, in the bid to contribute to solutions to the global challenges of climate change and food security, organized a symposium and expo that will take place 14th – 16th October 2022 at the IUEA, Kampala campus, Kansanga – Ggaba Road.

The symposium will be an avenue to promote awareness of the linkages of the impacts of climate change to the food security issue. It will promote open discussion within the food production chain and systems with a focus on safeguarding communities from hunger in Uganda, the East Africa region, Africa and the world as a global village facing the same challenges.

The climate adaptation and resilience initiatives which can be enhanced and reinforced in Uganda and East Africa as a region will be high on the agenda at the symposium and expo. The technologies that will be exhibited will be critical to current practitioners and new entrants to the food chain systems and climate change solution pool.

The symposium theme: “Linking Climate Change To Food Security, Nutrition And Wellbeing” will be unpacked into papers covering; Climate change impacts manifestation and its deliberative impacts on the food systems and society’s wellbeing, Climate changes resilient practices, and indigenous technologies’ responsiveness to food insecurity risks, farmers’ perspectives, Innovative financing for climate change responsive sustainable agricultural practices linked to farming traditions, Technology and innovations in value chains of food systems and Seed preservation and food processing as climate change response strategies.

As CCAEA, the main organizers of the much sought after expo, considers food security in the East Africa region as of the uttermost concern that climate change can dis-equilibrate in the entire EAC region.

“We have therefore decided and planned to hold the Food Security Symposia and Expos annually in the capitals of the EAC Partner States as the most imperative way of promoting awareness of climate change impacts for consequential energization of countries to plan & budget for climate change impact and as well implement their national commitments,” Dr. Tom Okia OKurut, the Executive Director, Climate Change Action East Africa said, adding that:

“Climate change issues in the region are well discussed given that Uganda and all the countries in the EAC region are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)”.

Mr. Okurut explained that all the regional countries, adaptation to climate change impacts is the main response strategy given the low emissions from the region.

“However, what is observable is that the sectorial approaches; forests, water, and environment perspectives dominate the discourse Food insecurity linkages to climate change don’t come out prominently and as such, government planning for climate change impact interventions focuses on directly impacted aspects,” Mr. OKurut added.

“The overall aim of holding the symposium and expo is to increase climate change resilience and food security awareness in East Africa. Especially, the event is expected to: (i) increase understanding of the risks associated with climate change on food systems and natural hazards; promote the application of early warning systems to reduce humanitarian and extreme impacts of climate change on society; (iii) increase adequacy and effectiveness of adaptation and resilience actions, including the extent to which they advance food crisis insecurity in the region; (iv) provide a platform for climate-smart technologies exposure and engagement and; (v) to facilitate smallholder farmers to showcase their product and share their innovations in response to the challenges impacting farmers” said Mr. Ronald Robert Lwabaayi, Team Leader, Climate Change Action East Africa.

The first-ever Climate Change and Food Security symposium and expo that will be hosted by International University of East Africa will introduce to the general participants of the Symposium our ESUS Platform; an online platform where farmers will access quality seeds, access climate updates, hire electric tractors and also track their produce.

“We are thrilled to provide an opportunity for interaction and engagement among those involved in the food chain systems such as farmers, transporters, cold food chains, and agro-industrial sectors among others in the identification of gaps and finding local solutions for climate change-driven food insecurity. A special session for farmers to present their innovations and technological solutions is part of this symposium,” said Mr. Hassan Alwi, Chairperson, Commercialization of Innovations at IUEA.

“As strong believers in offering transformational experience for our students and stakeholders, the symposium will provide an arena for open discussion and knowledge sharing on the aspects of climate change, and food security among the wide range of participants from the Private sector, Academia, Development Partners, Institutions, Agricultural Sector Energy Sector, and Climate Change actors and Environment promoters, Government and Civil Society Organizations.,” said Prof. Emeka Akaezuwa, Vice Chancellor, IUEA.

According to Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, who presided over the unveiling event, “many parts of East Africa in the past year have been experiencing hunger due to acute food shortages. The recent images from the Karamoja sub-region in Uganda attest to this. But food distribution logistics and extreme poverty may be the main drivers given the availability of food in the markets and the other parts of the country. Nevertheless, food insecurity occurrences signal a failure or absence of strategic response systems including food insecurity threat detection, storage, transportation, distribution, processing, seed preservation and effective utilization of food.”

In addition, food production planning in these regions seems not to be shifting or informed by climate change that is already reflected by its markers of increasing temperature and change in rainfall onset, intensity, and cessation. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS, 2021), smallholder farmers cultivate less than one hectare of land in a cropping season, practice labor-intensive farming using rudimentary technology, especially hand hoes, own a few heads of cattle, and produce mainly for family consumption. These farmers dominate the rural Uganda setting.

From the statistics, it is quite clear that the food systems production in Uganda is bed-rocked on smallholder farmers and by default, they are the ones that bear the unprotected wrath of climate change-driven impacts like drought and floods.

“The fluctuations of food production and availability due to climate change impacts can only, therefore, be mitigated if the smallholder farmer’s productive capacity and productivity are deliberately enhanced. The Uganda government is now focusing attention on climate change that is driving food insecurity through the introduction of specific strategies for farmers such as investing in micro-scale irrigation schemes and taking over seed production” said Kasaija

The event will recognize climate change champions across the region. The organizers have invited all stakeholders across the government Ministries, non-governmental agencies, and institutions to book their exhibition space via info@climateastafrica.org or call Derrick Mawanda at +256 414 663 099 +256 772 645 998.

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