Food is increasingly becoming a global concern- with climate change hitting hard, some of the most vulnerable societies will most likely suffer food shortages.
Making food available to a growing global population – worries economists and governments across the world. Presently, of the 7 billlion people, 3 billion people are malnourished. How many more people will become malnourished as the population continues to grow? This is a question that development actors should be preparing for.
Many of the malnourished people leave in impoverished situations both in the developed and the developing countries. The urbanization policy among African governments without proper planning could even accelerate the situation. Many people in urban communities often struggle to put food on the table if not on the ground or floor. A significant number of urban residents have been found to depend on cheap but less nutritious street food.
The urbanization policy by African governments seems to aim at attracting people to the urban areas without planning the likely outcomes of such policies. Most likely, this policy will not only create imbalances in food production but will make food unaffordable for urban residents. Are there alternative ways to plan urban development without necessarily attracting people into small urbanized places?
In most of the cases, the attention of African governments is on hard infrastructure and less attention is given to the soft needs of urban residents
How can towns and their rural hinterlands ensure a future that is food secure, prosperous and green under rapid urbanization? Such complex challenges face many areas of sub-Saharan Africa, including Fort Portal and Kabarole district in western Uganda. They are not solved through conventional planning.
Over the past one year or so, the model of transition of Fort Portal into a city has evolved and there is a new strand which brings an explicit focus on the region’s foo
d and farming. This is what the Fort Portal food “change lab” has been studying in depth and which gave rise to the People’s Summit on Food,to conceive a new paradigm for the growth of Fort Portal and its rural hinterland.
The “Food Change Lab”
A Change Lab is a safe space for various stakeholders to address complex social challenges through experimentation and innovation. A Change Labjointly explores the situation, develops a shared vision of the future, tries out a number of collectively owned solutions in the real world, and uses evidence to further refine them.
Uganda’s Vision 2040 foresees a transformation “from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country” with rapid urbanization and a shrinking agricultural labour force. Achieving that vision will make huge demands on Uganda’s food system, to feed a growing population, improve nutrition, provide good jobs, and generate ‘green’ and inclusive economic growth. The Food Change Lab is tackling this complex challenge in the growing town of Fort Portal and food basket of Kabarole.
Starting from a focus of food access for the urban poor, the Fort Portal Food Change Lab has investigatedthose food system’s links in both urban For Portal and rural Kabarole. The Labhas been engaged in evidence generation, sharing and reflecting on it with other stakeholders in the food system to bring in new perspectives. The decision to hold a ‘people’s summit on food’was made to bring a wider stakeholder community – including national policymakers – into the process, to engage with the evidence, and to discuss taking ideas to testing, implementation and scale. This is the same disposition of the overarching framework (National Vision 2040) – a vast array of stakeholders, incremental steps and scaling up what works, aiming at agricultural development beyond the current levels in order to sustain poverty reduction and ensure food security.
The Social Labs Revolutionwww.social-labs.com/slr