More than 30% of the total population of Uganda faces chronic food insecurity due to poverty, landlessness, high fertility, high food prices, gender inequality and the fact that majority of Ugandans depend on agriculture as a main source of income (USAID 2017).
Over 9.4 million Ugandans live in urban areas that emerged due to rural urban migration, creation of new towns and cities (UBOS 2018). Over 11% of the urban population lives in poor households and because of this, the household members experience limited availability, access, stability and safety of food especially during increased food prices (UNHS 2016/17).
Backyard farming is a viable alternative because it requires limited space, makes use of unutilized kitchen and compound Biomass (waste) which many urban areas have. A study done in Kampala city indicates that urban farming contributes to 35% of the food in the city (www.siani.sp-urban farming). Another alternative is provision of loan to households but the loans at commercial banks attract high interest rates between 18-24% (https://www.independent.co.ug/micro-credit)
Urban foods and nutrition security project addresses food insecurity and malnutrition among low income urban households by empowering them through a microloan scheme that offers interest free loan to women in poor urban households especially those with limited access to land for starting up micro businesses. The women are in small groups at village level called Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs). Before the active operation of the VSLAs, the group members receive training on VSLA methodologies, small and medium enterprises, family planning and nutrition education.
For households with access to small pieces of land, food insecurity and malnutrition is addressed through production and preservation of high value fast maturing food crops and intensive rearing of birds/animals for both dietary diversity and income. For sustained production and consumption, the project promotes the maximization of the productivity of the backyard gardens and intensively reared animals through conservation agriculture. Training on different agronomic practices, family planning, nutrition education and follow ups are offered to the farmers. Farm equipment and inputs are offered to farmers at interest free loans and returned loans are used to buy more farm implements for other farmers yet to benefit from the program. The program has been successfully piloted in Layibi division Gulu Municipality northern Uganda and there is need for scaling it up in the entire municipality and other urban areas of northern Uganda.