Food insecurity in Uganda: a dilemma to achieving the hunger Millennium Development Goal
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The status of food security in Uganda is worrying. The share of Ugandans suffering from food insecurity measured in terms of caloric intake is alarmingly high with low rates of income poverty. Based on the 2005/06 Uganda National Household Survey data, the study provides insights into access to food at household level. More importantly, the study shows that average caloric intake stood at 1,970 calories per person per day, which is below the minimum caloric requirement of 2,200 calories. As such, a population of 17.5 million Ugandans in 3.1 million households were unable to meet the minimum caloric requirement in 2006. This raises questions on whether Uganda will be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1: halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. While Uganda is on track to halve extreme poverty, it is less likely to halve extreme hunger by 2015. Yet the results suggest that food insecurity and income poverty are closely linked. Similarly, food insecurity at household level is closely linked to child nutrition status. In other words, antipoverty interventions and interventions to address food insecurity and child nutrition status have to be closely linked. The results further suggest that income growth, land under cultivation, changes in food prices and education attainment of household head significantly impact on caloric intake. There are significant seasonal fluctuations in dietary intakes – calories and protein. Improving post-harvest storage technologies and preservation methods; creating remunerative employment especially for the urban population; and strengthening the food distribution mechanisms would go a long way in addressing these seasonal fluctuations. Food insecurity is also marked with significant spatial variations that need to be taken into account in designing anti‐food insecurity interventions. The famine that hit some districts during 2009 demonstrates that adverse effects on the agricultural sector directly increase vulnerability to food insecurity. At the same time, increasing land under cultivation improves food security at household level. This suggests that improving agricultural productivity is a key to long‐term food security.