ARUA. The minister of State for Agriculture, Mr Aggrey Henry Bagiire has called upon the people of the West Nile region to consider feeding their children well so as to become better future leaders.
Bagiire made the appeal on Wednesday while supervising the Uganda multi-sectoral food security and nutrition project (UMFSNP) in Arua district.
The minister’s concern follows a recent report which ranked the West Nile region with the highest cases of malnutrition in Uganda.
“If we continue to have malnourished children now, what kind of leaders shall we have in 20 years to come,” Bagiire said.
The minister said Karamoja that has usually been compared with West Nile in many economic aspects is now much better according to the 2012 and 2016 malnutrition research analysis conducted by the government of Uganda.
Bagiire observed that the West Nile region has produced so many intelligent leaders whose leadership has been admired by Ugandans simply because they were fed well by their parents, a reason they equally performed well while in school.
He said it becomes shameful when children from the region go to school in a malnourished condition and end up not performing poorly in class.
“We must feed our children and women on a balanced diet so that we can fight malnutrition and anemia in communities”, Bagiire advised.
In West Nile, at least the four districts of Arua, Yumbe, Maracha, and Nebbi are among the 15 districts in Uganda implementing the five-year UMFSNP project.
Of the four, Nebbi has been rated the best performing district in the region followed by Arua.
The main beneficiaries of the project are pregnant and lactating mothers and children under the age of two years.
The national coordinator of UMFSNP, Mr Julius Twinamasiko said much as malnutrition in Uganda has reduced from 32 per cent to 29 per cent, West Nile has continued to be the worst performing region, a reason the project was extended to more other three districts of the region after Nebbi that was the initial beneficiary.
Twinamasiko disclosed that malnutrition in terms of stunting in the region stands at 40.5 per cent among children under five years with Anemia being over 50 per cent among mothers.
He said the government of Uganda will carry another survey (research) at the end of the project in December this year in which the ministry is expecting the West Nile region to perform better in terms of nutritional improvement.
The project which is jointly undertaken with the ministries of education, local government, health and the office of the prime minister is being implemented in primary and secondary schools where lead farmers base their implementation in terms of demonstration farms.
Mr Sam Wadri Nyakua, the Arua district chairman said the sustainability of the project won’t be a challenge if the various stakeholders continue to put more effort into effecting it.
He said the district is also targeting religious leaders, cultural leaders, and local council chairpersons in villages to ensure its sustainability.
In Arua district, Logiri and Adumi sub-counties were rated the highest in terms of malnutrition.