By Bwambale Bernard & Francis Musinguzi
Religious and cultural communities are some of the well-organized civil institutions. Equally, religious and cultural leaders are often the most respected figures in their communities. They play a powerful role in shaping attitudes, opinions and behaviours in all spheres of life. These leaders command a wider understanding of the cultures, traditions and norms of the people they serve. 98 percent of Uganda’s population subscribe to a religious affiliation (UNFA, 2020) and many communities are affiliated to some form of cultural belonging.
The Fort Portal Food System Lab of the HealthyFoodAfrica project therefore sought to benefit from these leaders’ expertise and influence to catalyze food systems change efforts.
Recommendations gathered through the various Food System Lab (FSL) engagements have flagged mass community sensitization on nutrition, food safety, food loses and other food system challenges.
The FSL identified 50 influential religious leaders from diverse faith communities as well as cultural leaders from Toro cultural institutions. These leaders were oriented on the key issues of nutrition, food safety and food losses as well as their leadership role in fostering healthier and sustainable food systems.
Following the orientation, the leaders committed to integrate food system related topics as talking points during their community engagements and to mobilize communities for food systems awareness campaigns. They also committed to prioritize food systems interventions in their work plans and budget frameworks so as to contribute towards sustainable food systems in their different areas.
United Nations Population Fund, 2020. One step at a time: Finding common ground with religious and cultural institutions to deliver an integrated rights package. Population matters, Issue Brief 12