Legal experts have called for rethinking the role of law in
advancing the right to food and adequate living.
Speaking just after fish exporters suggested a ban on local
consumption of the lucrative Nile Perch causing uproar especially on social
media, Dr Kabumba Busingye a Lecturer of Law at Makerere University said food
is identity, culture and politics but there’s no substantive chapter in
Uganda’s constitution that spells out the right to food.
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Kabumba who was presenting a paper titled, ‘The Law, Food and Livelihoods’ to
judicial officers, lawyers and rights activists attending the inaugural
ceremony of the Center for Food and Adequate Rights Program and Head Office,
said they need to reflect on what needs to be done institutionally to re-centre
the role of law in realizing this right considering that many countries like
Kenya and India have made reasonable strides.
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The lack of a specific law about food, Kabumba says is only made
worse by the fact that law schools across the country do not have courses on
agricultural law even as 70% of the population are engaged in agriculture.
According to Kabumba, this poses questions of whether the law fraternity is
relevant to the needs of the biggest part of the population.
Dr Peter Rukundo a Nutritionist and Researcher based at Kyambogo University say
that the problem is not the absence of law or policy providing for safe food
but the gap is in enforcement.
Rukundo says that the right to food should shift from just having
food to having nutritious food, especially for the children considering
emerging problems such as obesity and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) that
have a strong link to what people consume.
As a preventive measure to the NCDs crisis, Rukundo says
government and food advocates should be pushing for soft drink and fizzy soda
companies to mandatory have labels with warnings of the harm associated
with excessive drinking.
Flavia Nassuna Matovu, the Inspector of Courts who officiated at
the meeting noted that while Uganda is a food basket, hunger still prevails but
they had never thought about addressing such issues using the law.