The Lab’s core activity is research to generate evidence on diets that can be used in lobbying and advocacy to policy makers to influence the food agenda at national level. The Fort Portal Food Change Lab has been successful in generation, sharing and reflecting of evidence with stakeholders including Media, parliamentary forum on food security and other food agencies to bring in new perspectives. Research on dietary diversity:The research uses the food diaries to record the food intake of households for a period of 7 days. So far the first phase of research was done and results were obtained and shared with stakeholders at the food summit and at the breakfast meeting with parliamentarians. See reports attached.
The second phase of research is ongoing. Previously the household dairies were implemented in the rural hinterland of Kabarole District, however in this phase the dairies have been extended to the municipalities to track and compare the dietary diversity of both the rural and urban households in the District. We are eager to have the results which will be shared.
Research on Value Addition: Survey results of KRC 2015 revealed most households exhibiting poor food consumption in terms of diversity and value. Among the factors explored as drivers of these poor diets was the limited traditional knowledge on food processing and value addition. It was noted that most people lack the knowledge of food processing and storage which in essence would ensure a constant supply of nutritious food and save time. Additionally a lot of food leaves the region unprocessed especially maize grain and returns in a processed form which is sold to the local people at five times the amount they sold the maize grain. A study on value addition is being conducted with an objective of exploring value addition opportunities and innovations in Eastern and Southern Africa in order to improve value addition to the agricultural products in Kabarole District and Uganda as whole. The study targets actors in agro cottages, food processing industries, farmer associations, physical markets, academic institutions and informal food vendors.
So far study visits to Zambia and South Africa have been conducted. Soon the team will explore Kenya’s and Uganda’s value addition practices. Results will be shared in the upcoming second food summit.
THE COALITION OF THE WILLING(C.o.W)-Agahikaine Food Consumer Forum
The Lab follows a bottom-up approach through partnership with local leadership, change agents, movements and initiatives such as the coalition of the willing for local advocacy on sustainable diets. The CoW-Agahikainewas born right after the Peoples’ Summit on Food with the overall intention to generate local voices of actors and players in the food system for local and national policy action. The Food Lab program at KRC has been able to consolidate and mentor this group of individuals into a strong body of individuals, organisations, and companies that can pursue critical issues of concern within the food change lab. It is anticipated the CoW-Agahikaine will be able to take on local level advocacy issues.The C.o.Wis thus a local platform for information sharing, networking, lobby and advocacy by key food value chain actors. The 20 local actors form the Coalition of the Willing to advocate for sustainable food system in Kabarole, this is one of its kind in the District. The 20 actors are from various backgrounds such as farmers, small scale industries, Nogamu, street vendors, District councillors, local leaders and elders. The group was able to form a leadership structure and also develop an advocacy agenda with support from Hivos Kampala Office. The CoW is already working to influence diets in Kabarole District through their radio talk shows and exhibition on healthy diets.
THE ORUGALI CONSUMER GROUP
The Orugali concept is derived from the Tooro traditional eating system. It is a Tooro Traditional culture of sitting together around a meal and sharing from the same serving tray.It was discovered that there is a lot to learn about nutrition by sitting around a meal and eating together. Ideally, the Food Lab approach is demonstrated through the Orugali sitting arrangement. Through the facilitation and mobilization of KRC, the participants were reorganized into a grass root consumer group for advocacy on nutrition. KRC has been mentoring the Orugali members into a more meaningful advocacy group for healthy diets. When the Food Lab Programme was initiated, the Orugali households were brought on board.The Orugali households have been participating in the Food Change Lab evidence generation. Through the Food Lab, the Orugali festival has become a familiar activity whenever the group is meeting on a monthly basis. The Orugali model can be used to tackle various issues that affect the food system.
The food lab convenes various stakeholders to debate critical issues affecting the food system. This is done through engagements with policy makers at local and national level. Over time, The Food lab has engaged the parliamentary forum on food security, National planning authority and the Kabarole District leadership to influence policies on food systems. The following engagements have been done and some engagements are still ongoing;
- A breakfast meeting was organised in Kampala and was attended by 37 members of parliamentary including the parliamentary forum on food security
- Discussions with the Parliamentary forum on food security are ongoing to review the 1935 public health Act
- Engagements have been done with the National Planning Authority to a more inclusive urban planning with street food vending incorporated in the town/city planningand also integrate the evidence from the food lab, advocate for value addition and a policy on food that leaves the region
- The review process of the Kabarole District Production Ordinance has commenced. The Food Lab in collaboration with the Coalition of the Willing are supporting Kabarole district local government to review the ordinance on Food security and integrate nutritional food security in the ordinance
Radio talk shows are ongoing and are being conducted by the C.o.W. The discussions centred on publicising the evidence previously generated on diets but also on the review of the Kabarole District Production ordinance.
The Lab also utilises Drama series to dramatize the evidence generated. These are also aired on KRC FM.
The Food Lab conducts annual food summits that convene local, national and international stakeholders on food systems. Last year the summit was conducted in Fort Port Portal and became a success when different leaders and policy makers made commitments that were aired on KRC 102 FM to change the food system.