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Webinar with Uganda highlights the importance of participation in Codex work


The current COVID-19 crisis has created an unprecedented change in how we think about and approach work, leisure, and life in general. Technologies are playing a crucial role in keeping our society functional in a time of lockdowns and quarantines. Codex Members and Observers had to adapt quickly to the new environment, implementing the use of online tools to actively participate in Codex work and ensure consumer health.

The Codex Secretariat has held training sessions in different regions and regularly showcases Codex online tools at the Commission and during technical committees. Webinars for individual countries tailored to users’ requests have also proved popular and invaluable for those delegations who are not always able to attend Codex events.

Uganda arranged a webinar in April 2020 and Hakim Mufumbiro from the National Codex Committee told us about the training.

A glimpse of the action.

Tell us about your experience with Codex.

My first direct engagement with Codex started in 2002 while I was still at University. In the same year (2002), Uganda hosted the 15th Codex Coordinating Committee for Africa and had a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of the action. Fast forward, when I joined the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) in March 2009 as a Standards officer specifically tasked to develop food standards, it was not long before I got engaged in the preparations to co-host with the USA the 42nd Codex Committee on Food Hygiene in Kampala in November 2010.

I was then immediately incorporated as a member of the National Codex Committee in 2011. I would go on to participate in Codex activities at the national, regional and international level. Between 2014 and 2019 I was able to participate as part of Uganda's delegation in meetings of CCPFV, CCFH, CCFICS, CCFFV, CCPR, CCAFRICA and CAC.

In October 2017, Uganda successfully co-hosted with Mexico the 20th CCFFV and I was part of the Steering Committee that managed the activity on behalf of the Government. According to statistics it may only be Uganda in Africa that has co-hosted more than one Codex General/Commodity Committee in the last 10 years. To date Uganda has directly adopted over 150 Codex texts mainly standards, guidelines and codes of practice and use the extensive guidance provided in the food control initiatives.

How did participants find the web training?

The participants found the web training very educative and eye opening for majority that had not interfaced with Codex systems. There was interest to cascade such training activities to other wider stakeholder categories.

Speaking the language of Codex.

Codex web tools training Uganda

Giuseppe Di Chiera from the Codex Secretariat leads online webinar in Uganda

During the webinar we got familiar with new acronyms (e.g. EWGs, CCFH, OCS, …) and with Codex procedures. Why do you think it is important to speak the language of Codex?

Understanding and speaking the language of Codex is important in order to make a useful contribution to the several ongoing activities/projects in the Codex system. It is also useful when undertaking negotiations with other trading partners.

Participation was identified as one of the key mechanisms of Codex. Why is it so important? What more needs to be done from all sides to ensure participation in Codex?

It is important, not to only to participate but to effectively participate and have the ability to significantly contribute to the discussion. It is through participation that the needs of a developing country like Uganda are listened to and possibly considered during the development of Codex documents and related deliverables. Uganda is steadfast in engaging all the key state and non-state actors to get interested in the ongoing activities with a view of enhancing participation. We have registered growth in participation over the last 5 years using this approach from participating in 40% of the planned Codex meetings in 2014 to 85% in 2019.

What’s next for Codex Uganda?

Uganda will continue to build a pool of stakeholders who are able to follow and effectively participate in the work of Codex. We also remain as the Coordinating contact for Codex activities in the East African region. In the medium term we will seek to interest our researchers to join their peers in the Scientific bodies in order to contribute to the sound science which is the cornerstone for Codex documents.

Codex website provides pillars of global standardization.

Patrick Sekitoleko, Food Standards Officer in the Codex Secretariat said: “The Codex website is the starting point towards participation in the work of Codex. The website contains diverse information on Codex including general and historical information, Codex standards and procedures for participation. Also deployed on Codex website are dynamic tools, which enable the Codex Community to participate in the ongoing work of Codex, and these include Circular Letters (CLs); Online Commenting System (OCS); Electronic Working Group (EWG) platform; Online registration system (ORS). Indeed, the website is constructed to fulfil the pillars of global standardization - openness, voluntary participation, and use of the latest available information (in this case scientific information).”


Top tips for a Codex tools webinar

  • Follow the link. Plan ahead. The Codex Secretariat will share some useful links with participants to familiarize them with the tools ahead of the training sessions. Make sure you do your homework.
  • Raise your hand. There are no mistakes during a webinar. Write down any question or doubts you may have. Specific questions can be sent to the Secretariat before or after the event.
  • Share your feedback. There is always room for improvement. Send your feedback to the Secretariat in case you want to further comment on your webinar experience.

 Requests for webinars are always welcome by the Codex Secretariat. Send an email to [email protected].