The world has just agreed to do everything possible to reduce poverty, tackle inequality and injustice and protect the planet through the adoption of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
Some of the challenges to be overcome in an increasingly unequal and fragile world are exemplified in Uganda – a country ranked 164 out of 187 on the Human Development Index developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with a poverty rate of 70% of the population.
The situation in the North of the country is particularly challenging, with up to 80% of young women and men aged 15-35 years either unemployed or working in informal production activities, mainly related to subsistence agriculture.
At the same time, Uganda is facing increasing challenges of deforestation, degradation of wetlands, river banks, lake shores and water pollution, making it difficult to achieve environmental sustainability.
Green economy key to sustainable development
This is a picture which is not uncommon across many African countries. With that in mind, and in line with the commitments adopted in Agenda 2030 and Rio+20, the European Union and its partners (see below), including Plan International, launched Switch Africa Green – a multi-country project to achieve sustainable development by enhancing green economy. With an overall budget of €21.5m, to be implemented across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa and Uganda, it is EuropeAid’s largest programme to support the green economy in Africa.
It aims to support target countries towards sustainable development, through the transition towards an inclusive green economy, based on sustainable consumption and production patterns, while generating growth, creating decent jobs and reducing poverty. As the country’s Minister of State for Environment, Henry Kajura, stated during the project launch, “Uganda has to go green” in order to overcome its current economic challenges.
Sustainable sesame: A booming product
As part of Switch Africa Green programme, Plan International’s project in Uganda – delivered with local partner NOGAMU, an association specialised in organic agriculture and fair trade – will therefore promote the transition to a sustainable production model, creating decent jobs for young people, supporting small and medium enterprises, and boosting public policies in the process.
Promoting eco-innovation, waste management and energy efficiency will be integral to the project, which will connect young farmers from Lira region, in the north of Uganda, with networks established for sustainable sesame production, a booming product whose demand has increased a 70% in recent years.
Plan International will also work to strengthen the institutions and support Uganda’s public policies that help to encourage this change, through participative work with partners including the Ugandan Ministry of Environment, the Science and Technology National Council, and the Association of Microfinance Institutions.
Plan International in Uganda
Plan International has been working in Uganda since 1992, developing programmes for the promotion of youth employment. Through these programmes, it has provided vocational training to more than 20,000 people.
Globally, Plan International implements programmes towards adaptation and resistance against climate change in 31 countries.
Switch Africa Green
The overall objective of Switch Africa Green is to support six countries in Africa to achieve sustainable development by engaging in transition towards an inclusive green economy, based on sustainable consumption and production patterns, while generating growth, creating decent jobs and reducing poverty. The objective will be achieved through support to private sector led inclusive green growth.
For more information about the programme, including priority sectors and pilot country overviews, go to switchafricagreen.org.
Switch Africa Green Partners
Switch Africa Green is developed and funded by the European Commission. Project partners include UN agencies, notably UNDP, UNEP and the UN Office for Project Services, jointly with National Ministries of Environment.