Government of Uganda and United Nations launch new initiative to address food security and strengthen ecosystems in Karamoja region

Honourable Vincent Sempijja, Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (2nd left) and Ms. Rosa Malango, the UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative (extreme right) admire a cassava tuber. With them are local government officials from Karamoja region and NARO Uganda officials who are propagating drought resilient tubers for the semi arid region. (Photo credit: UNDP Uganda 2018).

Moroto, 18th May 2018 — A new food security and ecosystems resilience initiative for the Karamoja region has been launched in Moroto district, Karamoja region.

Hon. Vincent Ssempijja announces the official launch of the SURE Karamoja project in Moroto district. (Photo credit: UNDP Uganda 2018).

The project entitled, Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in the Karamoja Region (SURE –Karamoja), was launched by Honourable Vincent Sempijja, Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and witnessed by Ms. Rosa Malango, the UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Priya Gujadhur, FAO’s acting Country Representative, Mr. Jean-Marc Sinnassamy, the Global Environmental Fund (GEF)’s Senior Environment Specialist as well as local leaders from the Karamoja region.

The five year Government led initiative which will focus on improving food security and environmental sustainability in the region has been made possible with support from the Global Environment Fund (GEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

“The Government of Uganda has over the years worked hard to pacify the Karamoja region paving way for development initiatives such as this new SURE Karamoja project,” Hon. Ssempijja, the agriculture minister said before officially launching the project, adding that it was the second initiative his ministry was bringing to the region to address food security concerns.

He further said that this new initiative would build on and add value to work started by other projects by delivering innovative practices, technologies and approaches that enhance the resilience of food production systems and long-term environmental sustainability in the Karamoja sub-region in line with the national vision, ” said Hon. Vincent Sempijja.

Ms. Rosa Malango, signs off to signify the SURE Karamoja project launch. (Photo credit: UNDP Uganda 2018).

Agreeing with him, Ms. Rosa Malango explained the new project was intended to address the impacts of climate change which are threatening food security and livelihoods around the world including Uganda, by empowering communities who depend on their natural resources for their livelihoods.

“Through this initiative we will work with local authorities and communities to increase food production, land productivity and environmental sustainability. We will also help diversify opportunities for local communities to improve their livelihoods. This is key to ensuring that no one is left behind as Uganda implements its National Vision and the Sustainable Development Goals in this region,” said Ms. Malango.
Mr. Andrew Napaja, LC V Chairman Moroto (left) shares on some of the region’s challenges during the launch of the SURE Karamoja project. (Photo credit: UNDP Uganda 2018)

The region’s local leaders led by Andrew Napaja, the Local Council V chairman, called for affirmative action on irrigation and mechanisation of agriculture in the region.

“What Karamoja needs is water for their crops as well as their livestock, we do not have a single tractor in the entire region and we need them to open up large tracts of land for agriculture” Mr. Napaja said.

He thanked the United Nations for the work they have done in the region, emphasizing that UNDP’s support towards peace had led to calm both within the region and across borders with their neighbours while FAO’s support to agriculture has increased interest in crop cultivation as well as improved livestock.

Priya Gujadhur, FAO’s acting Country Representative said the new project would continue FAO’s long standing engagement with the Government of Uganda and the Ministry of Agriculture to promote sustainable land management.

The importance of ensuring that gender considerations are met during implementation were emphasised during discussions on project implementation with a call on local leaders to ensure that both men and women are able to benefit.

“The burden of taking care of the family including growing food is mostly on the women in this region, we need the men participating too and I hope this project will address some of these issues,” Anne Lemukol, Nakapiripirit district production & marketing officer said during discussions on the project implementation modalities.

The USD 65m project will be implemented by the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries (MAAIF), with support from UNDP, FAO, the four District Local Governments which have been selected for implementation. These include; Kotido, Kaabong, Nakapiripirit and Moroto. Various other partners from Private Sector and Civil Society will also take part in implementation at the local level.

The project is funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) to a tune of US$ 7 million, UNDP with US$ 13 million contribution and co-financing from the Government of Uganda including US$ 24 million from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and US$ 21 million from Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.

“This SURE Karamoja initiative is under the GEF’s integrated approach for food security in Sub Saharan Africa and we look forward to achieving a positive long term impact in the Karamoja region, “Jean-Marc Sinnassamy (right), GEF’s senior environment specialist said.

Local communities in the four selected districts will benefit from this initiative by becoming active participants as the UN works with the local leadership to demonstrate and promote climate smart agricultural practises which increase crop yield while protecting the environment. These approaches have been tested successfully in other cattle corridor districts in Eastern Uganda where yield for crops such as beans and maize has doubled per unit of land area.

Ms. Rosa Malango meeting with members of the local communities in Moroto. (Photo credit: UNDP Uganda 2018).

In addition, this initiative will promote soil and water conservation, which is important for the region as soils are drained of water as soon as the dry season sets in. Most importantly, the project will promote agro-pastoral systems, encouraging farmers to keep their cattle which are an important resource for the people of Karamoja while increasing the yield of their harvests.

Cows are an important asset among the pastoral communities of Karamoja region, this Nangorit valley dam built with support from FAO is helping the communities in Moroto to feed their livestock close to home in both the dry and rainy seasons. The SURE Karamoja project will build on such initiatives to improve food security in the region while promoting environmental protection. (Photo credit: UNDP Uganda 2018).

Text & Photos by: Doreen Kansiime, UNDP Uganda.

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