Sunday, 24 February 2008

Launching 'HungerFREE'...and UB40

It is fair to say that a trip to a concert by ageing British reggae band 'UB40' is not high on many people's to do before they die list. However, when any group of international recognition performs in Kampala the effect is quite amazing. People will literally beg, borrow and steal to get the money together for the (relatively expensive) tickets and the hit songs are played ad nauseum on the capital's radio stations. In UB40's case this amounted to 'Red Red Wine' and 'Falling in Love With You', both of which are covers that it could be argued they have 'made their own' over the (many) years. Anyhow last night thousands of Kampalans packed into the cricket oval for what was an enjoyable, if slightly surreal, evening.

The concert last night came at the end of a busy week with Action Aid, during which we launched our 'HungerFREE' campaign in Kampala and the Eastern district of Katakwi. 'HungerFREE' campaigns are being run in over thirty countries worldwide, with the broad aim of forcing governments to deliver on the first Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. In Uganda we have decided to focus on three key issues: increasing women's ownership and control of land; promoting access to agricultural markets for small-holder farmers; and ensuring the availability of enough good quality seed. The key message is that in Uganda there is easily sufficient food to feed the whole country, meaning that where hunger exists it is as much a political issue as it is, for example, one of unfavourable climate.

As an advocacy NGO our aim is to campaign for the appropriate legal and policy frameworks to be in place at the national level to deliver on these goals, and where necessary to also embark on grassroots sensitisation programmes about the issues listed above. The latter is particularly relevant when dealing with the culturally controversial issue of women's control of land. Needless to say I don't have the space to go into great detail about the campaign here, but if anyone has any questions please feel free to get in touch.

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