Australian not-for-profit organisations Food Ladder and School for Life join forces to feed and teach hundreds of Uganda’s poorest children.
Food Ladder will soon begin building one of its custom-designed hydroponic food growing systems in rural Uganda, which will help feed the 680 primary and secondary students and 120 staff members of School for Life.
With an annual food bill of $100,000 – from serving pupils three meals a day, School for Life will be able to reduce its costs by growing fresh, nutritious produce, just metres away from the classrooms.
“Food is a significant program cost and we can’t take it away,” explains Annabelle Chauncy OAM, School for Life CEO and Founding Director. “If kids aren’t healthy and fed they’re not going to learn, it’s as simple as that.”
Designed to mitigate volatile environmental conditions, Food Ladder systems are five times more productive than traditional farming methods when operating at full capacity. Durable and reliable, much of the technology is computerised, featuring an integrated cooling system and automated irrigation, allowing for nutrient-rich perishables – including tomatoes, cabbage, capsicum and the Ugandan staple nakati – to be grown year round.
According the Uganda Bureau of Statistics as of last year 10 million people (27% of the nation’s population) were living below the poverty line, on just $1.65 (4,500 Ugandan Shillings) a day. Consequently, undernutrition is widespread, with 36% of children chronically undernourished or stunted.
“Nutrition is the cornerstone of development,” says Kelly McJannett, Food Ladder CEO. “Children who receive appropriate nutrition in their first 1000 days are ten times more likely to overcome life-threatening diseases, go on to earn 21% more in wages, complete 4.6 more grades of school and are more likely as adults to have healthier families.”
With a trajectory to educate 1600 students in the next five years, the Food Ladder system will not only provide reliable produce, but education opportunities, being integrated into School for Life’s agriculture curriculum and community training days. In a bid to become self-sufficient School for Life will also sell any excess produce to local retailers and hotels, in the nearby capital, Kampala.
Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy, employing 70% of the population, and contributing half of Uganda’s export earnings and a quarter of the country’s GDP. However, population growth and the burgeoning effects of climate change are having lasting, negative impacts on the nation. As a result, teaching children how to use sustainable and affordable agriculture technology is paramount in expanding Uganda’s economy and reducing poverty.
“Food Ladder focuses on communities where the need is the greatest and this launch marks the beginning of a significant expansion into Uganda,” explains Ms McJannett. “We encourage all in-need schools, communities and orphanages to come forward and engage in the Food Ladder program.”
The Food Ladder system being deployed to School for Life is proudly sponsored by The Cuffe Family Foundation.
About Food Ladder
Food Ladder is the first not-for-profit organisation to use hydroponics and environmentally sustainable technologies to create food and economic security for communities affected by poverty. Using custom designed systems, Food Ladder grows commercial quantities of nutrient-rich produce around the world; from the rooftops of village schools in India to the remote community of Ramingining in Arnhem Land.
About School For Life
School For Life is a not-for-profit organisation working in rural Uganda to empower communities through the provision of education. By building schools, School For Life provides communities with quality education, including primary and secondary schooling, vocational training and other services – such as employment and healthcare solutions.
For more information, photographs or interview requests contact Food Ladder Communications Manager Olivia Shead on 0412 786 506.