The government has a constitutional obligation to establish national food reserves under Objective XXII (b) of the 1995 constitution. This duty helps to guarantee food security, mitigates hunger, prevents malnutrition and ensures that everyone enjoys the right to livelihood. COVID 19 pandemic has worsened malnutrition and related deaths in Uganda. Food reserves would have therefore been a critical tool in realising food security especially in times of unforeseen economic hardships or natural calamities like the COVID 19 pandemic.
The COVID 19 pandemic is wreaking havoc across the globe. The crisis is detrimentally affecting all civil, political, economic, social, cultural, and developmental rights. In Uganda, the government put up measures to prevent the spread of this virus and one of the key elements was a lockdown to control congestion in public places and temporary closing some offices and businesses.
Many people have bought and are keeping food to take them and their families through this pandemic. They buy food with long shelf life from shops. It should be noted that there is no mechanism of tracing for food in Uganda.
Government has also adopted the centralized mechanism of distributing food to the vulnerable population in the districts of Wakiso and Kampala which comprise of many urban dwellers that depend on a daily income to survive.
In a bid to support this effort and to assist this good cause, many corporate bodies, industries, companies and individuals offered food items to the National Task Force majorly consisting of maize flour and beans.
The government of Uganda is under a legal mandate to uphold, protect, and fulfill the rights of all Ugandans including children’s rights to safety, health, adequate food, and well-being. Many Ugandans are however suffering and at risk of chronic, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, and other obesity-related conditions yet these can be prevented.
In Uganda, Non-Communicable Diseases kill up to 100,000 people annually, which is 35% of the total annual deaths. Uganda is a member of the World Health Organisation and passed a resolution to act on the main risk factors for Non-Communicable Diseases that is the unhealthy diet. Unhealthy diets start in childhood and build up throughout life; associated with overweight and obesity and children must maintain a healthy weight and consume foods that are low in saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt in order to reduce future risk of non-communicable diseases.
Marketing, advertising and broadcast of unhealthy foods and beverages in Uganda by the media is done before and after the watershed time lines, exposing children to unhealthy diets compromising their safety, right to health and the right to adequate food.
The respondents have failed and omitted to protect children from the adverse impact of marketing of unhealthy diets on children’s health in accordance with the rights of children as acknowledged by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the right to adequate food, as set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (7), and consistent with the United Nations guidelines for consumer protection.
CEFROHT is implementing nutrition and urban farming project. This is through training women in food security, nutrition, and the right to adequate food. Women are trained on how to engage and dialogue with local leaders for the right to adequate food through public participation for inputs and community mobilization.
We, civil society organizations working on trade, investment, human rights, environment, women’s rights, and labor rights-related issues, wish to register our apprehensions for the continued promotion and protection of the rights of commercial investment schemes such as factories, flower firms, and plantation-based investments, at the expense of individuals, communities and environmental rights.
Did you know that you have a constitutional right to demand and defend your social economic rights?
Jorina House Gayaza
(+256) 393 225468