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The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2009: Uganda

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2009: Uganda
Nov 2008

Two decades of civil conflict between the Government of the Republic of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army displaced some 1.8 million people and left northern Uganda severely underdeveloped. Poverty and malnutrition are widespread among displaced and host communities alike, compounded by continuing insecurity and the cumulative impacts of drought and floods.

While the Final Peace Agreement remains unsigned, ongoing negotiations have brought relative calm to northern Uganda and enabled three-quarters of the displaced population to return to their villages of origin or resettle in transit camps closer to home. Meanwhile, as tensions ease in neighbouring Kenya and the Sudan, Uganda’s refugee population continues to decrease, relieving pressure on the country’s limited resources.

Despite this progress, some 430 000 people remain in IDP camps in Acholi and Teso sub-regions, their return hindered by the lack of access to basic services and building materials in their home villages. Increasing numbers of land disputes and forced evictions, poor sanitary conditions and gender-based violence are further causes for concern in return areas. IDP communities will need assistance at every stage of the resettlement process, while returnees require timely support in accessing and cultivating land, rebuilding their livelihoods and ensuring their long-term food security. Over 1.6 million IDPs, refugees, returnees and host-community members are still in urgent need of assistance.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

Underlying poverty and malnutrition in Uganda have long been exacerbated by conflict-induced displacement, lack of land access and frequent climatic shocks, while household coping mechanisms are now being further strained by soaring food and input prices. With almost 75 percent of the population dependent on crop cultivation and livestock for their livelihoods, region-specific agricultural support is essential to the overall recovery process.

More than 50 percent of Acholi’s IDP population have resettled in their home villages or in transit camps, increasing access to land by over 30 percent. However, with limited access to inputs and markets continuing to undermine crop and livestock production, the rehabilitation of agricultural infrastructure will be paramount to improving household food security in the area.

While high rates of IDP return and an improved security situation bring prospects for recovery in Teso, the region continues to struggle with the cumulative impacts of natural hazards. Some 300 000 people affected by flooding in 2007 still need assistance, while dry spells in 2008 have led to widespread crop failure. Meanwhile, pastoralist communities require urgent support to restock in the face of animal disease outbreaks spreading from the neighbouring Karamoja region.

Karamoja remains the most vulnerable and marginalized region of Uganda.  Acute malnutrition and widespread dependence on food aid have been exacerbated by continuing insecurity and three consecutive years of drought and crop failure. Furthermore, tens of thousands of animals have been lost to disease outbreaks in 2007 and 2008, devastating the livestock sector. To be effective, efforts to rebuild pastoral and farming livelihoods will need to be accompanied by improvements in security and incorporate disaster risk management.

FAO response

In 2009, FAO aims to provide inputs and training to enable IDPs, returnees and host communities to resume crop and livestock production, boost food availability and strengthen self-reliance. FAO’s approach endeavours to restore assets lost to conflict, natural hazards and livestock disease, while rehabilitating agricultural infrastructure and promoting basic food production.

Building on the success of FAO’s ongoing interventions in northern Uganda, the proposed activities aim to establish 550 Farmer Field Schools (FFS) and use these as a platform for cassava and sweet potato production, seed multiplication and seed and livestock fairs. By linking FFS with seed suppliers and local traders, FAO endeavours to improve market infrastructure and accessibility. Proposed activities also aim to boost household capacity to open up land using animal traction and inject cash into local markets through voucher schemes for the distribution of inputs. Livestock vaccination campaigns and the provision of veterinary services will give immediate assistance to vulnerable pastoralists, while training and support of CAHWs will reap longer-term benefits. Training on early warning systems and natural resource management will further help vulnerable communities to engage in sustainable livelihoods and prepare for future shocks.

Joint FAO-World Health Organization, FAO-United Nations Population Fund and FAO-United Nations Development Fund for Women projects aim to support victims of gender-based violence through a holistic approach encompassing agricultural skills development, medical services, legal assistance and awareness raising. Furthermore, as joint lead for the Food Security and Agricultural Livelihoods cluster, FAO will continue its efforts to ensure that emergency and rehabilitation projects in this sector are implemented in a coordinated, cost-effective and sustainable manner. This will enable humanitarian actors to assist those most in need and, ultimately, enhance the impact of food security interventions throughout Uganda.