We also take this opportunity to reiterate our commitment to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by supporting the freedom of all people to pursue their sustainable development so that no one is left behind. As SNV we focus on three strategic sectors: agriculture, energy and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) which constitute some of the most pressing needs humanity faces today.
Nearly 690 million people in the world today face hunger and starvation, up 10 million since 2019. FAO estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic could add approximately 83-132 million people to this number this year. The need for more food is unquestionable, however, SNV believes that new ideas on food production methods should lead the way in addressing the projected food deficit. We need to rethink how we produce our food. As recognised in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, there is a need for the sustainable intensification of more efficient agricultural production systems to protect and enhance the natural resource base while increasing productivity. Development must go beyond agriculture by involving rural and urban areas and supporting job creation and income diversification.
The SDG2 overarching goal to “End hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” is one of the tenets that guide SNV’s work in agriculture in Uganda. This goal challenges us to rethink the way we grow and consume our food as it explicitly acknowledges the interdependence between hunger, nutrition and the need to make agriculture ‘sustainable’. Value chains and food systems need to become more inclusive, efficient and diverse, as well as nutrition-sensitive and climate smart. This is to ensure that people have access to food at affordable prices and opportunities to change to healthier and more balanced diets.
SNV uses a market-based approach in agriculture because the sector is primarily driven by the private sector. Through a food systems “lens”, we are able to identify key bottlenecks in the sector and develop inclusive business models. Public-Private Partnerships have helped us launch innovative products to address the root causes of why markets fail to meet the needs of people living in poverty. This approach is helping farmers to grow more food sustainably and creating jobs at different stages of the value chains.
Inclusive value chains
SNV works with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to strengthen their supply chains so that they remain competitive while ensuring environmental sustainability. By supporting agribusinesses, we are able to reach more farmers linked to the SMEs and ultimately improve the agricultural value chains and incomes. Support for businesses involves strengthening their supply chains by bolstering working relationships amongst producers, processors, distributors, small-scale farmers and service providers as well as financial brokering and co-investments.
We leverage additional financial and technical resources through public-private partnerships by providing entrepreneurs with a broad range of financial products on reasonable terms and supporting the agribusinesses to develop sound business cases. This together with technical advisory services is kick-starting markets that can sustain themselves and create a win – win situation for agribusinesses and the small holder farmers that they work with. Through our dairy project, we supported farmers transition from traditional farming methods to semi-intensification by creating an input market, providing access to knowledge, products, services, and financial options that would enable them increase production. Using a blend of matching grants and loans at subsidised interest rates, farmers have been able to invest on farm, accessing products worth over EUR 5 million in the last three years to improve production. The products and services included; on-farm practical training, water for production, paddocking, farm products and infrastructure such as spray races, milking parlours, sheds/barns and mechanised equipment.
By supporting farming communities as well as small and medium enterprises SNV has contributed to increased incomes, boosted farmers resilience to climate change; and increased food and nutrition security for 505,000 in different agricultural value chains over the last two years.
Encouraging the uptake of nutrition sensitive agriculture
Sustainable food systems should not only address access to food but the quality of the food that is consumed. According to the World Health Organisation, 1.9 billion adults are overweight or obese while 462 million are underweight. Around one in ten children are born underweight and approximately 45% of deaths among children under five are linked to undernutrition. Africa for example has a cereal-centered food system with less consumption of fruits and vegetables. This needs to change if sustainable food systems are to be achieved as planned. Access to quality indigenous seed is still a challenge for many rural farmers. By partnering with government agencies such as the National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO), SNV Uganda has been able to build the capacity of local farmers to take up seed multiplication of quality declared seed and establish community seed banks. This has not only helped solve the problem of farmers travelling long distances to look for improved seeds but encouraged the uptake of nutrition-sensitive agriculture at the household level. Through tackling the challenge of access to quality indigenous seeds 17,200 households in Kasese, Kakumiro and Kyenjojo districts of Uganda have adopted nutrition sensitive agriculture and are growing the high-quality NARO bean II and NAKATI being distributed by the seed multipliers at community level.
Leaving no one behind in WASH
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) bring heightened ambition levels for global water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) - ‘leaving no one behind’ and renewed attention to quality and sustainable service delivery (including safe management). SNV’s WASH interventions aim to support the Government of Uganda to progressively achieve the right to safe water and sanitation for all Ugandans. As such, our WASH programmes are careful not to exacerbate or deepen existing inequalities. Rather, our approach supports local and national government efforts in designing and implementing service delivery models, at scale. This entails adjustments in the set-up of service delivery models and amendments in the roles and responsibilities of all involved: the government, the private sector, civil society organisations (CSOs) and service users. We have supported district local government efforts to improve the functionality of their rural water sources by promoting the establishment of operation and maintenance structures for management of water sources. These structures when strengthened create a sense of ownership by all the stakeholders involved and promotes shared responsibility and accountability for the maintenance of water sources. A total of 944,000 people now have access to improved sanitation and safely managed water supply as a result of our WASH efforts.
Our work in Uganda highlights the fact that we are stronger and can achieve even more together! The future we want needs us. It needs our individual and collective effort to pursue systems that do not merely give immediate solutions to the most pressing needs that humanity faces but responds to these challenges in a sustainable way while protecting the rights of future generations.
By Phomolo Maphosa, Country Director, SNV Uganda
Download the SNV Uganda Annual Report 2019