The Chief Justice, Alphonse Owiny Dollo has said that the right to adequate food is still under appreciated by many people in Uganda, something he said calls for alarm.
“It is true that Uganda is the pearl of Africa with a good climate, two seasons in a year, fertile soils and social capital. We have fairly good legal and policy framework. The constitution enjoins the state to ensure among others Ugandans enjoy safe and clean water, decent shelter and food security. However, it is surprising that hunger and malnutrition are highly prevalent in Uganda,” Dollo said.
The Chief Justice was on Friday speaking during the official opening of the offices for Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights(CEFROHT) , a food rights civil society organization in Gayaza, Wakiso district.
He was represented by the Inspectorate of Courts, Flavia Nassuuna.
Dollo said whereas the right to adequate food is critical for development and wellbeing of all nations, this has been ignored in Uganda and has contributed to malnutrition among other negative effects.
“The Uganda Demographic and Health Survey report for 2016 shows that stunted growth in children under five years is at 59%, overweight of children stands at 3.7%, low birth weight is at 11.8% whereas stunting still affects over 2.1million children in Uganda. All these are as a result of poor feeding,” he said.
The Chief Justice said that it is appalling that this state of affairs is happening in this modern era, noting that something needs to be done to correct the problem.
“Everyone should know that the right to adequate food is critical.”
Makerere University’s Dr. Busingye Kabumba could not agree more to the Chief Justice’s assertion.
The Makerere law don said whereas there are many laws taking about the right to food, it ought to have been emphasized in the preamble of the Ugandan constitution.
“To what extent has our law recognized and protected this very critical right of food and adequate living in Uganda? The Constitution is rather muted when it comes to this very critical right. Why couldn’t we put this critical right in the preamble of the Constitution,”Kabumba said.
He noted that the country has returned to discussing the fundamental issues like the right to food that ought to have been solved by the framers of the constitution.
Dr.Kabumba mentioned a number of countries including Kenya, DRC, Bolivia, Colombia, Malawi and Mexico whose constitutions emphasize the right to food.
“The mere failure to express the right to food in the constitution doesn’t mean that is the end. These are some of things we should have put in the constitution while amending it.”
The CEFROHT Executive Director, David Kabanda said the organization has done advocacy for the right to food as well as public interest litigation in line with the same.
“In the last two years, we have been working on an integrated program to promote the right to food and adequate living. We have also registered several positive judgments in line with promoting the right to food,”Kabanda said.
“CEFROHT’s efforts towards legal empowerment of the vulnerable on adequate living rights evidenced a resilient community that is capable of claiming and pursuing their rights and entitlements without fear of costs and courts.”
He noted that whereas CEFROHT has been at the forefront of promoting the right to food, it requires a multisectoral approach.
“Over 33% of Ugandans die annually due to non-communicable diseases related to food. We need to watch the food we eat. We should work towards having a health environment including a proper diet.”
“With an increase in vulnerability and poverty countrywide, it’s imperative to strengthen the capacity of the poor to pursue and claim adequate living rights especially on promotion of land governance, use and management for promotion of food and income security among the poor.”