Rising food prices: Time for Governments to discipline the market The sharp increase in food prices over the past couple of years has raised serious concerns about the food and nutrition situation of poor people in East Africa that is only recovering from the effects of the recent Kenyan crisis. Today, in Uganda for example, one can only get essential commodities (like sugar, soap, cooking oil and paraffin) at prices that have at least doubled within less than six months.

East African Watchdog Project Steering Committee (PSC) meeting held in Dar es Salaam The second PSC meeting of the East African Civil Society Watchdog Project for Sustainable development in the Lake Victoria basin took place in Dar es Salaam, April 12 – 13, 2007. It reviewed progress and made major decisions on the implementation of activities in the period April – May / June; June – December 2007.

SusWatch provides input to the EALA debate on the Lake Victoria Commission Bill On September 4, 2007, partners of the East African Civil Society Watchdog Project for Sustainable Development in the Lake Victoria basin (UCSD, TCSD and Kenya SusWatch network), and the East African Communities Organization for management of Lake Vic resources (ECOVIC) submitted comments on the Lake Victoria Commission Bill, 2007 Supplement to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) that has been under consideration during this period (10 – 29 September 2007).

The Ugandan Government is to drop plans that would have allowed a private company to grow sugar cane for biofuel production on a protected forest reserve. The decision was made quietly by Uganda’s Minister of Finance, Ezra Suruma during a trip abroad earlier this month. He said the government was committed to "conserving Mabira forest" and that other land would be found for sugar cane.

Outcome of the Commonwealth meeting in Kampala: reserve gazetted around Lake Victoria In honor of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2007) in Kampala, Uganda government has gazetted 80 square miles out of the 26,800 square miles as a Lucustrine Protected Areas (‘no take reserve’) effective December 2007. This reserve is meant to protect dwindling fish species, encourage research and to promote spot fishing.

Call for UCSD membership update before the AGM on June 28, 2007 UCSD still invites organizations to join it as part the process of updating before AGM and recruiting more members. Invitation will as a priority go to registered and paid up members. Regular membership is open CSOs and NGOs total membership and subscription fees total to Ugshs 45,000). UCSD would like to thank those that have so far paid up.

Not a sweet deal – ancient forests are lost once and for all!

Worried about the ban on polythene bags? Do not despair….! Recently Government of Uganda banned buveera (polythene bags) of not more than 30microns effective July 1, 2007 but with a grace period of up to September 2007 to allow traders clear their existing stocks. Many people may think it is impossible to live without the ‘bag beast’… probably having grown up using them. For inspiration, other parts of the world have since taken the bold step to stop using these bags, and are already sharing dividends.

UCSD issues 2 press statements in Uganda UCSD secretariat produced two statements in The Daily Monitor News paper of July 6, 2007 (The proposed Mabira forest degazettement is a symptom of wider barriers to sustainable development) and July 16, 2007 (A civil society Evaluation of the Global partnership on Aid, Trade and Debt in Uganda on 7/7/7 - the Halfway point for the Millennium Development Goals. The statements will also later on be available on the UCSD website: www.ugandacoalition.or.ug

Neglected commitments, neglected promises exposed at the World Social Forum, January 20 –25, 2007 in Nairobi The Sustainability Watch (SusWatch) Network was active at the Jan 20 – 25, 2007 World Social Forum in Nairobi. Along with its planning and evaluation meetings involving network representatives from Africa, Asia and Latin America, a side event was organized.


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