Inequality rates in Uganda haven’t changed significantly in the past years, despite it being one of the economies that has grown most rapidly in the world. Uganda is one of the countries with the highest numbers of people living in rural areas (84%) in the world, and when observing what kind of development has caused some numbers in the economy to change, it is possible to understand why issues such as inequality remain.
For year, NAPE-Friends of the Earth Uganda has been denouncing one of the many problems affecting rural communities in this country: landgrabbing. According to the organisation, among the main causes we find: palm oil monoculture plantations in Kalangala, oil extraction in Lake Albert and exotic tree monoculture plantations for the trading of carbon credits near Bukaleba and the Kikonda Forest Reserve.
Another one of the threats posed by the current agribusiness system in Uganda comes hand in hand with seed companies. NAPE is organising public dialogues to denounce the Biosafety and Biotechnology Bill, which if passed, “would mean giving sweeping powers to the seed companies and depriving the farmers of their powers in the food production chain.”
In this way, NAPE has identified some of the key elements in the defence and strengthening of Food Sovereignty. One of them is the defence of native seeds which are threatened by the advance of agribusiness.
The organisation supports the development of seed banks in Butimba and Kigaga municipalities, of Hoima district, as well as in Kakindo and Mvule in Bulisa district.
The work with rural women is another of the issues where the organisation is focusing its efforts. According to them:
“In the oil region of Uganda (where the project has been piloted) just as in many rural parts of the country, women are the main breadwinners in their households. It is the women who mostly do the digging and harvesting food, fetching water and collecting firewood among other chores.”
In addition to denouncing the abuses faced by women when they are forced to relocate due to the scarcity of food in their communities, NAPE is also questioning how land grabbing by oil companies is affecting women in particular:
“There have been examples like in the oil refinery affected communities where men have received compensation money for land on behalf of their families and run away with it leaving their wives and children stranded. We also have cases of polygamous families where a man may choose to get compensation money and relocate with one wife leaving another one and children behind stranded.”
For this reason, one of NAPE’s projects aims to strengthen the voices of women, facilitating their participation in radio shows, particularly in Community Green Radio “to talk about their rights and to mobilise fellow community members to participate in sustainable livelihood initiatives such as food sovereignty.”
Exchanges have been led by women for women. According to the organisation, “through these exchanges a lot of knowledge and skills are shared regarding food storage and different agro ecological methods.”
As a way to respond to the food crisis caused by oil exploitation in an effective way, NAPE understands the need to “restore the centrality of women in conceptualising food sovereignty amongst the communities.”
For more information, see these reports:
- Five years of building community resilience in Uganda through the Sustainability School: Successes, challenges and way forward.
- Women-led action oriented research on the negative impacts of oil on women’s rights, land and food sovereignty in Uganda’s oil region.
Listen to the 2017 interview below, or download the MP3 (4.1 Mb) here.