FAO in Uganda

Predictive Livestock Early Warning Information System to help Uganda monitor its feeds and water security

Trainees undergo a practical training session using the mobile-based PLEWS, at a farm in Nakasongola District

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) have scaled up the Predictive Livestock Early Warning Information System (PLEWS), currently being implemented in Kenya, to Uganda to better be able to gauge and predict issues affecting cross-border dynamics.

The MAAIF, with support from FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Disease Control (ECTAD), conducts capacity building training on PLEWS to 16 National Task Force members and eight zonal staff from four Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institutes (ZARDIs) guiding the 13 piloting districts of Kiruhura, Isingiro and Sembabule (Western rangelands zone), Katakwi, Kumi, Kotido, Nabilatuk and Moroto (Northern Moist Farmlands zone), Nakasongola and Kyankwanzi (Lake Victoria Cresent zone), Kiryandogo and Buliisa (Lake Albert Cresent). The 24 trainees will provide training to district hands-on staff during the month of January and February 2022. This training will be later scaled up to all 136 districts and capital cities.

PLEWS is an innovative indicator developed by FAO and the Texas Agri Life University. The tool produces mapping of zones and systems at risk of feed and water scarcity, which is important for providing early warning and better planning for early response to emergencies associated with droughts. The objective of the training is to build the capacity of national and zonal staff on the use of the PLEWS tools and to review the baseline information available and identify actions to complete the existing gaps in early warning.

During the opening remarks, the FAO ECTAD Deputy Team Leader in Uganda, Dr Chrisostom Ayebazibwe, affirmed that “although, in its pilot phase, the tool holds potentials to provide decision support with anticipatory actions by communities, regional and national governments”. The Director of Animal Resources of the MAAIF, Dr Juliet Sentumbwe, said that the Directorate of Animal Resources in MAAIF is committed to championing the cause of the national Animal Feed Security system.

 Dr Juliuet asked that at the end of the training, a platform for bridging the knowledge gap between uncertainty and emerging challenges of Climate Change and Technology evolution is established, to provide answers to challenges of seasonal water and feed shortages with implications of low productivity, value chain losses and collapse of businesses and livelihoods.

The trainees also were taken through a practical session using the PLEWS tools to assess feed and water scarcity or availability. The hands-on training took place at selected farms in Nakasongola District.

PLEWS builds resilience and prevent emergencies with advanced information

The use of PLEWS tools can provide early information and prevent emergencies by promoting proactive decision making conditioned by the early information provided by the tool. Actions taken in time and based on this early information can reduce the potential impact of extreme weather and climate events on livestock. These proactive actions could reduce losses and response costs associated with the impacts of extreme weather and climate events and improve food security for the most vulnerable populations. On the other hand, early interventions can strengthen the resilience of at-risk populations, mitigate the impacts of disasters, and prepare communities and global actors to plan and mitigate rather than respond.