UNACOH with support from Dialogos/ ICOEPH, is implementing the Pesticide Use, Health and Environment (PHE) Uganda Project since 2010. In October 2017, the project expanded into a phase III from Wakiso and Pallisa districts to 17 districts in the four regions of Uganda (i.e. approximately 5 districts from each region) namely; Northern Region; Adjumani, Gulu, Kitgum & Nebbi. Eastern region; Budaka, Bugiri, Kumi, Pallisa & Kapchorwa. Central region; Kayunga, Rakai, Ssembabule & Wakiso and Western region; Bushenyi, Kamwenge, Masindi & Ntungamo. The Project aims at promoting safer use of pesticides and reducing cases of poisoning by handlers such as farmers, Agro-input Dealers and improving diagnosis and management of acute pesticide poisoning by health care workers, all this done while promoting alternatives to pesticides through Integrated Pest Management Strategies. From the previous phase I & II, the project has benefited Public Health Spray Men (Fumigators), Agro-input dealers, Flower farm employees, VHTs (Village Health Team Members), Primary School children, Health Care workers, Health Inspectors & Health Assistants and farmers through knowledge sharing and transformation.
Globally and Uganda at large, there is challenge to produce more food for the ever-increasing population, as well as protect agricultural populations from harmful effects of agricultural pesticides. The Pesticides Use, Health and Environment (PHE) Project Phase III (2017-2020), will be focusing mainly on gathering existing and generating new knowledge on pesticides for dissemination, to raise knowledge nationally and globally targeting to reduce the negative effects of pesticides both on health and environment while advocating for a national mainstreaming of sound pesticide management by different CSOs, Private and Public stakeholders in the above mentioned 17 districts.
In it’s third phase, the project does its implementation through the district UNFFE branches i.e. the District Farmers Associations (DFA), activities include: data collection on consumer risk perception and vegetable sample collection for statistical and Lab residue analysis respectively, dissemination of the reseach results to the respective district community, conduct meetings for the district pesticides committees, conducting radio talkshows, conducting short community sensitisation on pesticides safety, Attending the district council meetings for lobbying and advocacy towards sound pesticides handling, among others.
From the above background, working with the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratory (DGAL), the project has conducted research to assess the levels of pesticides residues in fresh vegetables like tomatoes and cabbages from the 17 districts as well as 86 water points. In addition a cosnumer risk perception survey has been conducted in the 4 districts each selected from the four regions of Uganda to stage the risk perception of consumers, consumer knowledge about pesticides health effects and factors associated with the risk perception. all these studies will form a base for advocacy and lobbying towards public health and environmental protection from the adverse effects of pesticides exposures.
The project in its previous phases I & II identified, trained and monitored clinical workers at lower health center and hospital levels (where pesticide poisoning cases have been collected from 2013 to 2017 and a poisoning database for the two district Wakiso and Pallisa has been created), health inspector, agricultural extension workers, teachers, Agro-input dealers, flower farm employees, public health spray men, farmers and VHTs guided community-level project implementations.
At the district level, the project promotes a functional multi-sector, multi-disciplinary District Pesticides Committee (DPC) and is engaging in district council meetings aiming at lobbying for safety policy influence and implementation to fulfill the goal of preventing pesticides poisoning. At the national level there is an inter-sector Project Steering Committee (PSC) comprising of representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, Makerere University School of Public Health, Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, among other stakeholders.
The PSC promotes a national pesticide safety agenda, including lobbying for a National Pesticides Centre (information, training, research, treatment) and mainstreaming pesticide poisoning into the national HMIS.
The Organisation recently became a members of the Uganda Farmers’ Common Voice Platform (UFCVP) under Caritas Uganda, a platform where research knowledge is disseminated to policymakers with aims of generating agricultural policies.