Kick Stunting Out of Kasese!
Our community-inspired battlecry to invest in nutrition for extremely poor mountainous children launched ICT/Drone-Enhanced Food Systems.
While helping an orphanage to implement a food system in Uganda, we leap frogged understanding of local food systems. Today we're designing community nutrition campaigns informed by geospatial, IT-enabled strategies. Taking a step further into the future, we believe that ICT-optimized food systems, enhanced by drones, will dramatically change the tide against small holder farmers, enable gender equity and finally empower women to end child malnourishment.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
GlobalRise, a 501(c)3 public charity based in Tennessee, USA
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small NGO (under 50 employees)
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
Rwenzori International University (proposed); Kasese Better Living Center; BioGardens; Christalis Home; District of Kasese Mayor's Office and Kasese Department of Agriculture; Consolidated Engineers of West Uganda; East Central African Union of Seventh-Day Adventists.
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
United States of America
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Rwenzori Mountainous Range (996 km2); abuts Kasese, Kabarole, Bundibugyo districts in Uganda and North Kivu in DRC. Place Total: 64,869 km2.
What country is your selected Place located in?
The Rwenzori Mountainous Range forms a border between western Uganda and east Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
After spending 2½ years building an orphanage food system in our mountainous Place, Kasese, home to the highest rate of stunting in Uganda (>49% of children); we doubled down to invest in community nutrition. With 700 children on a waiting list, the majority of which will never get in, this was an easy decision. We love this area and are strongly committed to revolutionizing the food paradigm. We started with a household survey to collect key data that informs interventions. Interventions based on household level data is essential yet implementing surveys in intense mountainous terrain is difficult and pricey! With a background in ICT and nutrition we are testing a new idea - "geospatial nutrition profiles" (GNPs). Using best practices in data curation and the logistics industry, each GNP will integrate unique rural/tribal use of food derived from our 2019/2020 household nutrition surveys, waypoints of community assets, municipal statistics and crowd-sourced maps resulting in data-rich, geospatial patterns representing extremely poor, nutritionally-equivalent households dotting hard to reach mountain passes. We believe, relying on GNPs, NGOs can build/expand campaigns without costly surveys. Yet, this idea lead to others that can revolutionize the Rwenzori Food System. Looking back to 2017 when we convened a multi-disciplinary team of public health experts, agronomists, nutritionists and others that selected Kasese, we didn’t realize how meaningful it would be to learn the Bhukonzo language and culture, go to the farmer’s market and test new foods, mingle with poor mountainous families and local leadership, etc. A systems approach is desperately needed to decipher how our “Food-Rich Place” renders almost half of its children stunted and what this implies for its human capital that will come of age by 2050 to run, among other things, the local food system. This must change and the community is 100% ready!
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Bordering Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Rwenzori Mountains are home to millions of extremely poor farmers who lack access to formal markets.
Many families live high in the mountains and farm the hillsides.
The typical family in the highlands. With a high fertility rate many homes are "over capacity" yet families bring in goats and other farm animals at night so they are not stolen. In addition, the home is used to store crops and this often increases food waste. Household silos offer a solution.
Typical household farmer drying coffee beans. Beans and other produce like cassava that is dried on the ground, a common practice, often results in contamination (mold, etc).
(Blurred image...sorry!) Terrain is "deep issue" per the Mayor of Kasese. Getting public services to where over 1 million people live in the mountains is difficult. Helping farmers to sell their farm outputs to the markets below is a key strategic issue for community leaders.
The children live in extreme poverty but have access to food...families need education and training to nutritionally balance meals.
Bundu is used for breakfast, lunch or dinner...or every meal. Its the food of choice for family and friend gatherings. See: https://www.theugandan.info/bundu-the-special-food-for-bakonzo-people/
Gathering together to enjoy some Bundu!
Plantain is grown abundantly in the fertile hillsides and mountainous terrain and supplies many markets throughout Uganda and beyond.
The Mayor is focusing on wide scale change to transform the region to renewable energy. A drone-based Food System, that necessarily uses energy, will introduce new green tech methods that will help locals to envision and make the transformation leap to renewable energy systems.
“Mountains of the Moon” is what the local tribes call the Rwenzori Mountains, home to one of four tropical icefields outside the Andes and a World Heritage Site. Its alpine lakes, steep terrain and sloping hills are inhabited by, among others, the Bakonzo Tribe who speak Lhukonzo and Nande. With an estimated tribal population of 4 million+, most are extremely poor with a stubbornly high prevalence of stunting; 49% versus 33% in the rest of Uganda. They love their bundu, a thick paste comprised of Cassava-flour, rolled into a large ball that is placed at the center of the table so friends can pick off a piece, roll it into a ball with one hand and dip into sauce. It is culture-rich and always found at gatherings. Matooke, a plantain mash that occupies most of the eating plate with a small portion of beans, is also a main staple. Unfortunately, this diet is nutrient-poor, creating a pretext for stunting and other forms of malnourishment. Being near the equator, the climate is pleasant (20°C to 25°C/68°F to 77°F), with annual rainfall ranging from 900 to 1,500 millimeters (35-60 inches) fueling the dominant crops – maize, cassava, matooke (plantain), beans and gnuts. With 15,000 tonnes of fish produced annually in Uganda, Kasese has been selected for aquaculture development in Lakes Edward and George. Surpassed in annual revenues only by agriculture, tourism, especially safari expeditions, anchor the local economy with Queen Elizabeth National Park (elephants, lions), Bwindi National Park (gorillas) and others. Kasese is a bird watchers paradise with over 1,000 species. The people are friendly and as you walk the muddy pathways comprising the majority of roads, kids often laugh and shout “Muzungo!” (white)! A new government road project, replacing intense pot-hole ridden roads, connects Kasese and Fort Portal, the nearest city at the northern end of the Rwenzoris. The government is building a large central market, having moved the former constructed with ropes, metal sheets and wood; scheduled to open February 2020. This is the largest building project in Kasese and it signifies "hope". The difference between those living in Kasese and the extremely poor mountainous people is stark. In the mountains, small adobe structures house families, their animals (goats and chicken) and food storage, a practice that increases food waste due to moisture and other factors. Mud floors and straw roofs are typical. Kitchens are outside in smaller huts with meals prepared on the ground with wood. The children wear soiled clothes and have no shoes yet appear happy…and so do their young parents. Uganda hosts the 3rd youngest population in the world; a human capital opportunity. They are eager to speak and ready to drop work in the fields to experience a Muzungo. Covered with dirt and walking miles to get home, women farmers are quick to smile and bestow well wishes. Ever willing to learn, the typical household is lead by a woman farmer who has no hope.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
According to local government, the key challenges in our Place are terrain (steep passes where farmers live), poverty, property (inheritance and property line disputes) and education. Among the urgent needs, stunting must be eliminated to support long term productivity in the region. It affects so many areas from education to health, poverty to human capital, civil unrest and more. In a nutshell, the Mayor exclaims “we have plenty of food, we just don’t know how to eat!” Passionate about nutrition and climate change, he has embraced farm labs and solar energy. Our 2019 GlobalRise Nutrition Survey indicates a critical need for culturally-sensitive nutrition education, reworking unbalanced food preparations. Poor mountainous families, where most stunted children live in our Place, have food access through small farms dotting hillsides (1.5 acres on average) or bartering for food they need. Yet 67% indicate food insecurity, having gone a day or more without eating. Often food needed for babies is sold for financial needs. Sadly, up to 40% is wasted due to poor storage or transportation methods to market. Asked about using donkeys for moving crops from farms in steep terrain, a local NGO said it was tried but they became hunted for food. Added to our challenge is an Ebola crisis in neighboring North Kivu, DRC, that has killed over 2,000 people. A porous border between Uganda and DRC necessitates high levels of readiness along border checkpoints and hospitals and policy supports training and administering vaccines to health workers. Uganda's National Development Plan targets nutrition, such as a push to end open defecation that causes disease when rainy drain off enters the water supply. Many village toilets were installed but parts were removed for other purposes. This is even true of road signage in the mountains...removed for metal content. Poverty is a key challenge and Uganda is trying to move its people to low middle income status (USD$1,000/year), improving public investments, infrastructure projects and skyrocketing youth unemployment; yet, reaching mountain families is difficult. Here in the mountains another challenge is receeding glaciers that will impact water and rob tribal identity. Some fear receeding will affect irrigation schemes for farms. Our Place houses one of Uganda's largest irrigation schemes and the national education board is encouraging a local university to provide vocational training of irrigation workers. Other focus industries include minerals yet attempts to mine copper and cobalt lead to pollution of rivers that families use for water. Local tribal fighting has increased instability in the region. Political solutions take time. The cycle of inefficiency seems dire yet our community has decided to unify with a battle cry to save its future by addressing malnutrition. Leveraging its strong food supply (called the bread basket of Africa) to deliver nutrients for healthy growth is urgent. We must change the dynamics of 49% stunting otherwise by 2050, the impact on quality of life and human productivity in the region will be severe.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
The 2019 GlobalRise Nutrition Survey revealed surprising household challenges but many funneled to one primary area – household finance. Even when foods are available, as is the case with 90% of the households we surveyed, they aren’t accessed due to finances. When they are grown they may not be used for nutrition due to financial needs. We found that foods are often filled with aflatoxins that cause disease, in the case of dried Cassava, or is used in unbalanced ways, like relying on unhealthy portions of Matooke. Many times the family is unaware of the difference between feeling full and eating a balanced meal. One household said “stunting doesn’t hurt” and so it's simply accepted. Linking environmental, social, economic and policy (like gender equity) challenges that must be addressed to resiliently pull families from stunting centers on food. Connecting the dots we began to see an overarching pattern that indicates how to transform, or even revolutionize, the food value chain in the mountains…and this is how we arrived at Drone-Enhanced Food Systems. Our first thought was to “uberize” donkeys! If millions of poor mountainous farmers could simply have a way, other than walking with extremely limited loads (how much can one carry on their back?) and poor roads, to move their produce to market it could revolutionize finance, nutrition, education, healthcare and many other areas of life here. An agrarian NGO that is locally controlled indicated that middle men sometimes move the produce for farmers but the practice isn't common because they take twice the profit or more. Various stakeholders had different reactions to using drones to link extremely mountains farmers with the Farmers Market in Kasese and other markets: for the University it ties well with the ICT and agriculture curriculum under development. A local art foundry specializing in brass sculptures sees branding opportunity. Spiritual leaders affirmed it would help address social issues related to poverty, like improving childhood access to education and healthcare. The Mayor says terrain is a "deep issue"; cable cars built to run up and down the mountains (like ski lifts) were discussed but cost and carbon foot print is high. A new drone-based food ecosystem by 2050? All agree this could revolutionize the food system. In fact, now that we've designed it, its hard to imagine a local food system without it. Yet more needs to be done than transform the current system so that informal and formal markets merge, a feat in itself that drones may accomplish. We need to link the food system to a pathway that farmers can use to climb out of poverty, embrace education and enrich family life by ending malnutrition and poor sanitation - a systemic transformation. So we linked our newly envisioned food ecosystem with routine village training. To access this powerful system families will need to help themselves. It seems a fair trade.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
Imagine a trip to the Rwenzoris on a clear day in March. Lush green hillsides, strikingly beautiful, are busy with what appears to be birds flying high in the mountains. A new constellation of drones is carrying produce. Extremely poor mountainous families have onboarded onto an “opportunity platform” that resiliently swings the door wide open to economic progress using a new food system. Industrial drones, maintained in green warehouses with non-carbon emitting, solid state electric grids, take flight, ordered by farmers in the mountains. The platform is cashless, eliminating handling/exchange risk, seamlessly integrating payments with user's village savings accounts accessed via farmers’ phones. Users gain immediate, 24x7 access to funds with full transparency. Village training optimizes use of various aspects of the platform including mandatory household silos with built in platforms for drone pick up/lift off that dramatically cuts food waste from farm to market. Users must attend periodic meetings featuring nutrition and farming, training mothers to nourish kids with local foods/techniques and optimizing farming using market intelligence that offers guidance on crop selection, area food needs, rain patterns, fertilizers, seed technology and more. Village meetings orient farmers, provide critical feedback and importantly, are leveraged to eliminate stunting. Schools/clinics spring up, buoyed by 1 million+ new paying customers. Farmers use the food system, central to a new way of life, to transform families. Government, via ICT aligning nearby food systems and automated records, identify emerging markets, disseminates intelligence via the platform in local languages. Households receive citizenship credits that drive better sanitation and quality of life areas. Farmers pay attention; using credits for drone cost, buying food, etc, using the food system to anchor trajectory from extreme poverty to economic empowerment.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Linking a Drone-Enhanced Food System to incentivize the mountainous poor in the Rwenzoris could dramatically transform our Place, enabling a resilient and regenerative food system through periodic farmer training, helping farmers - especially women - to climb out of poverty, send children to schools and clinics and finally curb and eliminate childhood malnutrition.
The World Bank is exploring use of drones in developing countries for farm land boundary issues, an issue that needs to be addressed in our future food system here; and envision strong potential for other uses as well (photo: DPD France, part of Groupe La Posts). Imagine an integrated drone delivery platform and metal household silo that keeps food from wasting at the family level. For World Bank comments, see: https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/transport/brief/drones-for-development
Developed by over 60 global collaborators with deep experience in drone technology, operations and regulatory issues, the World Economic Forum's Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Drones and Tomorrow's Airspace, published a framework for governance of drones in society today and future requirements. See: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Advanced_Drone_Operations_Toolkit.pdf
This footage captures the beginning of a new system for blood supply delivery in Rwanda, a country that borders just south of Kasese, Uganda. We include as it touches on issues (technology, regulations, social) that our team thinks will be similar to building out a sweeping new Drone-Enhanced Food System in our Place. (source: Zipline based in California). Speed is not as important as accuracy and cargo capacity in our Food System. Pick up/drop off more controlled.
By 2050, the steep passes of the Rwenzori Mountains where millions of extremely poor women farmers live, will not represent a barrier to engaging formal markets that can alleviate poverty, eliminate stunting and transform lifestyles. The Rwenzori Food System has become a centerpiece of policy and community transformation because of all the resources this Place offers, none match its scale of impact. It is technically autonomous, using ICT/cloud intelligence to integrate metrics from Uganda’s 134 districts with best practice benchmarks to alert farmers via texts of critical news and forecasts. Additional intelligence, sourced from similar systems in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, D.R.C., etc., and global institution inputs, coordinate food distribution for East Africa sending texts to rural farmers. Routine village meetings staffed with specialists, managed by local university nutri/agri departments, teach topics ranging from optimized infant health during the first 1,000 days to crop production tailored to mountain dwellers. Our Food System is enhanced with a drone constellation, maintained in publicly/privately-funded green warehouses that use solid state, self-generating energy units emitting zero carbon waste. Drones systemically respond to thousands of incoming requests from farms high in the mountains to fill orders from diverse food stakeholders (consumers, processors, distributors, institutional buyers) creating a dynamic, demand-based food ecosystem. The transport packages comply with rigorous safety/quality standards using new Performance-based Regulations (see World Economic Forum, 4th Industrial Revolution PDF attached), zooming along licensed flight ways. Embedded sensors are integrated into the intelligence and navigation systems, confirming and continuously recording quality, weight and other variables prior to drone lift off points that are fitted on household silos used to reduce food waste from ~40% today to <10% by 2050. The platform itself drives new intelligence for the ecosystem. Like Uber, farmers can instantly respond to market demands from wholesalers (middle buyers selling at the farmer’s market, others), retailers and even consumers ordering fresh vegetables from home. Drones retrieve and deliver containers with extremely low noise output. In 2020, only 15% of mountainous households have bank accounts but in our Food System, all actors register bank/village account information resulting in zero cash leakage issues versus today’s cash intense exchanges with management and safety issues. The drone-enhanced system forms a backbone of our vision however the other parts make it an extraordinary community transformation agent; thus farmers must: (1) link village bank accounts to cell phone accounts and the platform; (2) participate in community nutrition training that includes baby monitoring, evolves community trainers/leaders and is staffed with university interns in nutrition, agronomy, public health and civic leaders; and, (3) attend village training meetings to onboard the drone-enhanced food system with government-required containers, household silos and more, and continuously learn about local farming issues, platform updates, text alerts, etc. To assist launch, the local government subsidizes accredited farmers with a “systems-use credit” accessible via phone, like how household electricity is done here today, upon completion of initial training. Requirements to receive credits dynamically changes based on policy requirements and initiatives. Ongoing access to the new system is preconditioned upon periodic village training and education. This training, supplemented with radio programming that reaches into the mountains, progressively transforms the family’s daily plate to a balanced diet with local foods, including taste helps, cultural sensitive changes and cooking classes that rotate among households. A core requirement tethered to accessing the new Food System is for woman farmers, including every member of their household with emphasis on children under 5, to visit village clinics for routine check-ups with results electronically recorded so real time data on maternity and child health is accessible for informing the current trajectory to eliminate stunting and other forms of malnutrition (wasting, overweight). Investing in electronic healthcare records is considered sound policy here where human capital is considered wealth, even more so than mining minerals or oil. The drone-enhanced food system, that delivers a compelling marketplace to mountainous families as more join (classic network effects), supports a positive, affirming environment that harnesses the potential of Uganda’s human capital by transforming lifestyles. Like Blue Zones, best practices in health, education from other food systems (regional to global) is integrated into village training, locally contextualized (language, cultural factors); and educational materials are continuously developed and distributed alongside training of community teachers and leaders, administered by local universities who maintain expertise via internships and research in nutrition, community development, health, sanitation, household finance and other quality of life issues unique to mountain dwellers. From a cultural standpoint, locals have embraced technology – phones for communication and motorcycles for transportation. Embracing drones is doable based on discussions with local farmers, engineers, the mayor’s office, university academics, others. The Rwenzori National Park updates a general management plan that, pending an environmental impact study, could license flight patterns. Studies in 2019 suggest that using drones for small containers have less carbon footprint than using "boda bodas", a commonly used motor bike taxi, to pick up groceries! Many farmers with little to no access to the market are locked in extreme poverty (< USD$1.25/day). We believe these hard-working families are forgotten by the world! This vision can change their plight in a sustainable way. By 2050, with mid-range satellites delivering high speed internet to developing countries and cloud management tools that administer drone-enhanced food systems, families can choose to enjoy rural homes versus moving to cities to find jobs, reducing urban migration that is straining resources and accelerating carbon footprint. The Food System of the Future, we believe, is an anchor point for humanity that denies predictions of mass migration to cities and offers a credible option that is counter to economic development policies that encourage urban flight. By 2050 our Food System will change the paradigm of city migration, deflecting a human capital crisis for building regenerative food systems. Why? A “call to country living” is evident in millennials through GenZ’ers who yearn for clean air and water, space and nature. This is relevant to our Place where an astonishing 50% are <15 years old; making Uganda one of the world’s youngest populations. Currently at 30 million, projections indicate 130 million Ugandans by 2050; a demographic “bonus” versus “burden” with a regenerative food system that promotes nutrition, agronomy and investment in reproductive health education for teenagers (USD$3 return for every $1 investment) who today have the highest fertility rate in sub-Saharan Africa (5.62 children born per woman). Linked to village training, we will align our Food System with complex development issues that are so interwoven with food. Alignment can end malnutrition, mitigate the effects of climate change on small farmers, expand financial literacy and support choice for rural lifestyles. It will empower small holder farmers, mostly woman (76%), to realize gender equity, climbing the economic ladder. Ugandan women placed 3rd in the 2018 Mastercard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship (57 countries); they own 1 in 3 businesses in Uganda. Woman in our Place are tenaciously moving towards gender equity yet challenges persist that deny them stable tenancy of farmland they work, so pivotal for supporting our Food System. Part of our vision, and a clear requirement to kick stunting out of Kasese, is establishing sound legal remedies for land tenancy and inheritance. This issue, along with reproductive health education and optimum infant nutrition, snowball to shake the very foundation of our Food System. Our battle cry - Kick Stunting Out of Kasese – embraced by multiple local stakeholders in religious and educational institutions, government and commerce has sparked positive thinking about the food system not just in Kasese but in villages throughout the Rwenzori Mountains. Linking our Food System with drone technology, sound policy, healthcare, environmental restraint via irrigation schemes, solar technology and more, can profoundly change the current trajectory by fostering a new platform that leads and achieves food security, lifestyle empowerment, education, family nutrition and sustainability by 2050+. Farmers will be trained to use an evidence-base and technology to optimize yield and will even find the system helpful during times of regional conflict. Given entrepreneurial predilection, woman farmers will create new sub-ecosystems, enabled by drones, targeting market actors with contracted versus spot market pricing, for example, that transforms where and how families purchase food. By 2050, the entire landscape for food markets will transform to on-demand structures while enhancing socially-rich food gatherings and spawning specialty markets that may foster peasant/corporate food partnerships. New markets will strengthen competition in our "food system in the sky”, pivotal for a regenerative system in the hard to access “Mountains of the Moon”; inhabited by extremely poor families locked into a 49% stunting rate with zero hope but now...our Vision has transformed our Place.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?
Rwenzori International University
Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.
In meetings with the Mayor, university and engineers, our ICT/drone backbone evolved to a mobile pay-as-you-go community utility; an extension of public transportation that receives infrastructure funds, advancing social equity for mountain farmers.
We re-invented Bulungi Bwansi - traditional community work gatherings - tying to Blue Zone social exercise resilience tactics; co-created futures for drone services that strengthen land equity, assist steep farming; identified new market strategies like linking world class safari resorts to socially-conscious brands, refugee camps and Great Lakes aquaculture. Gender-equity compliance was embedded; and cultural identity loops that launch a local branch of AU's future Great African Museum.
Unleashing 345,000 farmers, a $100M mountain economy, can end malnutrition in our Place. Local reaction: that one will work!
Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).
Kasese Better Living Center, Kasese, Uganda; the Center shares upper management with Rwenzori Field HQ of Seventh-day Adventists so we counted as one.
Rwenzori International University (proposed) (RIU), Kasese, Uganda. Formerly Vice Chancellor, University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, Eldoret, Kenya; Dr Nathaniel Mumbere Walemba is a native Mukonzo, founder of Rift Valley Secondary School, Kasese Better Living Center and Rwenzori International University.
BioGardens, Kasese, Uganda. An indigenous NGO in the Rwenzori Mountains that saves indigenous knowledge, maintains farmer training center and micro-banking for 130 farmers / farmer coops.
Christalis, Maryland, USA; owner/operator an orphanage in Kasese, Uganda.
ECHO Health, Ohio, USA; automated health financial transactions; ICT platform.
Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.
Given pandemic we listed both phases:
Two full day working sessions at KBLC convened 83 field leaders (ages 23-62) in commerce, university, social workers, pastors to review Themes, gain consensus; nutrition emerged as #1 priority. Next convened 34 civic/civil leaders to whiteboard district plans/priorities. GlobalRise was tasked with nutrition planning. Leadership resoundingly endorsed co-created mantra: “Kick Stunting Out of Kasese!"
Designed & Surveyed 173 mountain families in areas of food security/nutrition (attached). With BioGardens held 2 follow-up Village meetings (22-46 yrs; 32 villagers) to illustrate findings & gain feedback on diets, farming, finances, Vision
Multiple meetings w/2 Universities (admin/agri/nutri leadership); (32-72) president (53); vice chancellor (72), external affairs (38), nutri/agri directors (32-43), ICT (23-45) to gain feedback on Vision, identify/schedule visits with local influencers
Mayor’s Office: Mayor (48) outline mountain development priorities; policies
Field Intel: multiple food market vendors (18-56) to review sales, stocking, processing, food prices (68 recorded), orphanage/hotel food budget review
Multiple talks w/KBLC president (56), treasurer (53), director (34); Vision forecasting, discussed potential to mobilize 450+ mountain churches for Village Training
Albert Safaris (29) to futurecast drones serving safaris, visit commercial hubs along rivers, Great Lakes (Albert, George, Edward) and Victoria
Senior civic engineers (42-50) to outline/futurecast regional infrastructure and isolate prospective priorities 2020-2050 (irrigation/river/land management; roads; bridges)
Met Directors (33) of Rwenzori Founders (art venue) and Pastor (48); spiritual/cultural aspects, food traditions at gatherings (attended Bukonzo wedding), icons (glaciers)
What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.
Planetary accumulated experience doubles every 12 hours, a dizzying pace for trends and signals (slower moving into mountains) but here we go:
Cultural signals helped balance high tech/high touch in the Rwenzoris. Bulungi Bwansi, fading traditional work gatherings, are a natural for integrating Blue Zone longevity tactics; we re-invented it as social exercise, later learning Buganda Kingdom, Uganda’s largest subnational kingdom, teamed with the National Forest Authority for a new “Bulungi Bwansi Week”. We also envisioned a local branch of the future AU Great African Museum and linked “A Story In Progress” (Jonesborough, TN) for expertise in global peacemaking via storytelling and more.
Setting the stage for our Vision is ubiquitous broadband: SpaceX’s Starlink was approved for 12,000 satellites that can seriously tech-up our Place. Amazon and OneWeb’s future constellations and FaceBook’s Zephyr, a solar-powered drone atmospheric satellite fit well. Uganda also launched the first 5G network in East Africa (ZTE and MTN) that will compete. Electricity is also critical and fortunately there's an explosion of green, off/edge grid power tech from renewable solar, wind to solid state lithium-ion tech developed by Toyota and much more!
As population doubles African vertical farming with stacked wooden crates will evolve; into these innovations we add Africa’s super vegetables, indigenous greens from Nairobi's K'Osewe restaurant. Staying with diets, we linked 3D Food Printing, RUTFs and edible sensors beaming to mbPHRs; an inspiring collection of trends and signals! UK’s Nourished firm offers personalized 3D printed gummies and groundbreaking work at Tufts School of Engineering converts tapeworms to long living biodegradable optical sensors. Work on Spirulina (The Pollination Project) and maternal protein malnutrition from Jiwaji University led to enriched Bundu and guided ideas for aquaculture, linked to the mountains with Johns Hopkins Medicine-developed refrigerated drones; a potentially powerful nutrition intervention.
Digital health is revolutionizing clinician/patient interactions fueling health kiosks in Kenyan slums (Acces Afya); but we’d like to unify the backend using medical banking with strong privacy/security policy (see HIMSS Medical Banking Project) setting up integrated PHRs/mobile banking to help manage health expense, but free standing PHRs work too (InfoTower Uganda).
Matooke bunches weigh 20-50lbs; a key financial resource. Can drones manage this? Drone variety/capacity morph even includes large orders. Boeing’s “flying truck” prototype hauls 500 pounds! For safe Last Mile Delivery: Google in Australia; Amazon in Seattle. Amazon's drone beehive-like patents caught our eye for green warehouses; highly specialized to build, maintain, equip, dock, etc, precision managing swarms to meet demand. One more “drone thing”: forecasting weather with sea-faring drones (SailDrones) will help all mountain farmers.
Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).
Rwenzori Founders, working with Rwenzori International University, creates culturally-rich displays for African Union's future Great African Museum in our 2050 Vision. A uniquely successful brass foundry in the Rwenzoris, it attracts Uganda's top artists who celebrate culture with art works in brass, stone and more. Celebrating Bukonzo, Nande and other tribal cultures via food, dance, fabrics, art and stories is a key element of our Food System.
Biira Viola was up early, nervous about her interview at the Culture Center! Ever since she visited something deep tugged inside, a calling to save culture. News of disappearing glaciers deeply moved her. Entering the kitchen inside their new brick home (everyone was updating) her brother Kule Tom devoured a Blue Zone breakfast. “Selling to safaris now...even saw gorillas!” he exclaimed referring to high capacity/long distance drones with night cams sent to Bwindi. He was VP, Imaging at Kirembi Green Warehouse. Hurrying they jumped into a covered driverless boda boda; no more rain drenched family rides! Tom pointed up proudly, “that drone is recording property lines; its what helped Mom secure land rights!"
Nearby Baluku waved. “Didn’t make Bulungi Bwansi but will Sunday to plant avocado on the banks!” Viola yells. He smiled, pointing to his tablet “thanks!” Yesterday she linked it to Rwenzori’s AI Cloud integrating all districts. “We’re texting farmers” he said. “Hopefully better this time!” A faulty indicator advised buying the wrong seed. Viola, Manager of Value Chains at KBLC, assured farmers at Village Training she’d alert the University. She loved operations but was torn. “They need a sense of identity…of belonging” she thought passing kids playing in the new city square. Settling fares on her phone, she greeted Hope at the Center, feeling at home. Hope was serious. “What is it?” Viola asked. “Our Gender Scorecard is at 100%; you’re perfect!”
Racing back to KBLC, a lab tech sat in her office. “Mayo’s Food Lab wired RUTFs for the boy in Katooke.” Clinicians diagnosed SAM so family authorized his mbPHR metrics for analysis. “Lets get it 3D printed,” Viola instructed. Later Mayor Godfrey came by, “Mountain coop out bid everyone! Will they make any money?” Viola smiled, “they must sell; inner plant cycles work!” Arriving home she called her boss. “We didn’t make gender goal all year,” he said. “You’re solid; we’ll miss you.” Viola hangs up and smiles.
Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?
Our Rwenzoris have six distinct peaks, alpine glaciers, deep gorges and sweeping foothills. To preserve beauty and avoid carbon-intense trams, Kasese opts to implement a drone transport system to achieve a thriving mountain economy. As temps escalate, unique floral species creating a surreal landscape suffer. Mosquitoes are creating new malaria hot spots that kill 1 in 5 kids. Bukonzo grieve their loses and watch helplessly in 2040 as glaciers vanish, erasing iconic identity; yet, our Food System offers ways within their control to save the environment.
Vegetation changes lead BioGardens' to buy 5 acres in 2015 to preserve indigineous knowledge, transplanting trees and plants used for food and medicine and training 130 farmers to do the same. Our Food System expands BioGarden's prototype, extending field training to farmer coops for soil retention, using/making local phosphate rock fertilizers, water conservation and sourcing food knowledge for the University that rotates nutri-interns through food labs at Kasese Better Living Center (KBLC) to design eco-friendly diets integrated into Village Training. A food waste lab here, testing household silos and refining training programs, informs both farmers and our Policy Road Map.
Mobilizing 450+ mountain churches into Village Training Networks, KBLC both collects and delivers eco-friendly indigenous learnings creating a virtuous cycle catalogued by University interns who train field workers to advance environmental literacy among Bukonzo, our top priority for a climate resilient food system; increasing ecological and socio-political knowledge, knowledge of environmental issues, affective and cognitive skills and environmentally responsible behaviors (NAAEE; 2011). We re-energized Bulungi Bwansi, cultural work gatherings, to plant trees along Mubuku River that strengthen a 2,000 acre irrigation scheme, transformed by University engineers using ICT models to conserve water. Reinvented at KBLC, Bulungi Bwansi is a new social exercise (think Tai Chi/Blue Zone), steering deep longings to preserve Place. Uni-interns re-package stories for Rwenzori Founders who create visually stunning displays for The Great African Museum, educating global audiences on the destructive impact of carbon emissions in our Place. Uganda's position as "bread basket for Africa" is celebrated, owing to intensely protected biodiversity and green tactics like drone food systems that onboard subsistence farmers into a Green Model for Society.
Translocality has shifted attitudes; while youth seek jobs and cultural refuge via our Food System, gender equity is prominent. New markets, leveraging drone convenience and low carbon footprint, multiply at safari/lake resorts, refugee settlements, peri-urban/urban markets who cater to a global crave for indigenous Africa super vegetables; nightshades, Jack Fruit burgers, spirulina-enriched Bundu and more. As markets grow, glaciers melt and population booms, access to mountain land/water intensifies yielding vertical farm coops. Rural/urban translocality, exchanging mountain food intel/culture with vertical farm practices from Kampala, Nairobi, Kigali form an axis of deeply personalized product flows that fill anthropocenic yearnings for equitable, gender inclusive growth on Planet Earth.
Policies targeting ecologically-sensitive investments strengthen our fishing villages; aquaculture matures in Lakes Albert, George and Edward and Rwenzori rivers flowing into the infamous Nile. Refrigerated drones carry fish to mountain families in exchange for vegetables, amplifying traditional barter/trade and providing revenue to aqua-coops who invest in GIS/weather systems optimizing member yield and promoting species diversity. Criticized as green-blind, Uganda's Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) responds by embracing our food system to expand reach to mountain families. Drones vastly improve green compliancy issues; preserving forest areas, wetlands, other water catchment areas; ensuring soil regimes are followed, more. They also help communities adapt to felled footbridges and washed out roads caused by intense rain/drought cycles.
Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?
We’ll never forget how eagerly the orphans lined up for breakfast! One by one they walked into a dark, wood-smoldering kitchen and came out holding cups of porridge with boiled yam. We tried it, eyes wet from smoke...how do they do it? Our Place harbors thousands of kids who eat like this. What do they need for better health? After breakfast they line up again but this time for anthropometrics. Using WHO standards we find 3 stunted; only 10% vs. 49.8% in our Place…half of all kids??!
Diet is our central organizing principle; Kick Stunting Out of Kasese! is a battlecry to save our babies, heritage and future. We can’t catch every child that falls - breaks our hearts - but our Food System journey can catch so many that a resilient pathway emerges to end all forms of malnourishment. Changing diets however is an epochal epicurean journey that runs counter to tastes cultivated for centuries. Rich food traditions sadly overuse bundu and matooke to create a resilient, unnourishing system of stunting. We ask our focus groups a tough question: what kind of resilience do you want?
Poverty and malnutrition go hand in hand. Household crops are often sold for medicine, hoes and seed. If our doorway to a brilliant future efficiently links mountain farmers to formal markets, the key to this door must be diet transformation! We use Village Training Networks, trained teams at 450+ trusted mountain churches, to socialize eco-friendly, high nutrient, diets placed into cultural context to aid taste. 3D printed Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTFs) cure 80%+ cases of severe acute malnutrition saving difficult hospital journeys, expense and time away from work. Personalized/indigenous RUTFs, wired from global food labs and drone-dispatched to mountain homes, are embedded with edible mother/baby sensors transmitting to PHRs and clinical dashboards that remote clinicians use for Telehealth follow up at mountain medi-kiosks. Medical banking tech matches critical cases with donors for out-of-pockets (41% in Uganda), strengthening family resiliency when diet-related disasters strike.
Today's meals dramatically skew towards carbs, more than anywhere in the world per EAT-Lancet’s Planetary Health Diet. Our survey confirms this with plate composition of 85% carbs, 11.5% proteins, 3.5% fats. Our compositional goal is 65% carb, 15% protein, 20% fat. 2050 diets shift to less, high quality carbs with fruits/vegetables that increase fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants. Kids still eat grasshoppers but they love fruit too!
Low protein diets mean amino acid deficiency, affecting cell growth/immunity, bringing metabolic disease like marasmus and kwashiorkor. We apply plant-based proteins like soy, red/black beans, peas and peanuts, all culturally desirable, less costly than meat and eco-friendly. Fish, milk, insects, eggs with high biological value are replacing beef and pork. In fact, as incomes rise drone-to-aquaculture markets morph...including use of spirulina many like sprinkled on bundu, super healthy for Moms and babies. Maize and cassava, covered with aflatoxins, are much safer with uptake of household silos that double as platforms for drones. Matooke (plantain) remains a staple in our 2050 diet.
Hard-linking access to our food system with culturally-sensitized dietary training including vital breast feeding/training has scaled nutri-interventions. Our Food System is positioned to end malnutrition.
Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?
Will Subsaharan Africa become the next Global Factory? By 2050 it hosts the world's largest low cost labor force; 789 million. No other region comes close: Europe and China decline while India moderates with 285 million. Will Uganda follow an established fossil fuel model or pioneer a new Green Model becoming a Global Bread Basket? With poor infrastructure supporting neither, our Place has yet to benefit from Uganda's impressive drive to cut those living in poverty by half (1992-2013); >70% rely on subsistence farming earning less than $1.90/day. Can we build on what they know to achieve Uganda’s Vision 2040 middle income society?
Enter Pam, age 15, who dreams of becoming a scientist. Left in a garbage pile with HIV she’s stunted. By 2050, Uganda’s median age will be 20 years less than Pam. Millions will compete with her for jobs. Her true story is typical for our Place. What will she do?
Our Team's answer: cherish and build our babies! Will we meet 2050 with half our People stunted when our human capital bonus could propel us forward? Failing would be an historic miss! Aligned with Uganda's National Dev Plan III and AfCTA, our Food System pioneered a “new rurality”: culturally-grounded agri/nutri-specialization, rural-urban linkages, investment in green growth tech/markets and more. Gender inclusive jobs with strict penalties for noncompliance flourish; AI tech tracks employment across our system in real time, open for public review. Farms are drone-catalogued enabling compliance with land rights: woman farm without fear. Uganda's 2020 digital land registration system, first of its kind in Africa, strengthens land rights; women constitute 84% of agri-labor force today but own only 27% of registered land. By 2050 policy innovation, precedent-setting legal best practices and affordable drone mapping for mountain farmers unleashes latent economic forces in our Food System; requiring lawyers, para-legals, surveyors, GPS/ICT staff, drone pilots to enforce gender equality in land rights.
Our Food System owns world class state of the art techno-mechanical-electro designed green warehouses deploying a 1,000 drone constellation. Integrated with Uganda’s Airport Authority, including Kasese Airport for tourism (now an airstrip), our facilities employ agronomists, nutritionists, pilots, managers, ICT specialists, business/market makers, pediatricians/family planning, electricians, industrial engineers. Our advisory team helps other countries deploy drone food systems using best practices, employing graduates in disciplines ranging from energy to food genetics, 3D diets to nanotech. Drone-markets spawn jobs at refugee camps, safari value added services and in digital economics, perfecting AI-driven price forecasting.
Mountain villages team with life! Our pay-as-you-go community utility increases income per capita to $2+/day, a $69 million mountain economy by 2040. Seeing neighbors benefit adoption moves to 50-80%; or $100+ million by 2050. Teachers, nutritionists, agronomists, platform onboarding technicians, dietitians and others are employed for training. Telehealth thrives after Ebola/Covid19 setbacks; with med-kiosks in mountain villages clinicians diagnose malnutrition to 5G-enabled cervical screenings with real time diagnoses. Farmers use mbPHRs -- bank/health IT systems unification in 2001 set the stage for banks to scale personal health records nested in ultra-secure bank e-vaults, accessible via phones. Collecting data from cradle to grave enables nutri-preventions before stunting occurs. Medical banking reduces government capital requirements for health IT and launches virtual cash exchanges. Real time clinical evidence steers health policy/personalized health. NGOs use data to multiply effectiveness. Farmers gain phone access to micro-finance/insurance via village-owned schemes. Productivity soars!
At the nexus of agri/nutri-tech and drone use in development, professors in IoT, UAV, cloud/satellite/solar technologies multiply while interns flow through green warehouses becoming employees. Universities send interns to KBLC fulfilling myriad community functions in food labs, helping to organize coops, irrigation tech, Village Training. Agri-ecological experts are hired by National Park Authorities to assess drone flight patterns.
A Rwenzori Renaissance, pivoting from extreme poverty to green growth in a $100 million mountain economy has worked for Pam, a food scientist, who is no longer fearful.
Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?
Bukonzo (called Nande within DRC) number ~6 million; 1 million in Uganda and 5 million in DRC. Along with Bamba, Basumba and other smaller ethnic groups, they dwell in the Rwenzori Mountains, collectively comprising Rwenzururu Kingdom. A patriarchal society, they have deeply held traditions captured in snow gods, death rituals, dialects and diet.
Bukonzo have elaborate burial ceremonies that highlight how they view food. Legend has it that one day ancestors flew in from the Rwenzori Mountains to a Bukonzo home, hungry, but could not find food. Upon searching they became angry with the woman of the house and decided to create death. Many Bukonzo now have different, more gender inclusive world views yet the cultural norm is to over-feed visitors. Angering the ancestors again is definitely not part of the menu! Our Team, mostly Bukonzo, are concerned that traditions like these are fading and with them vital identity markers.
Determined to change this our Team designed a Food System that rescues and restores cultural links to food and environment, enabling key institutions along the way – a Arts & Humanities Dept at Rwenzori Intern'l University, Culture Center branch of the Great African Museum at Rwenzori Founders, Food Lab at Kasese Better Living Center – resoundingly affirming culture and identity and attempting to steer our many sons and daughters away from extremism into peaceful, productive livelihoods using our system. Our approach: routinely collect cultural stories, trees and plants used for food or medicine and more at Village Training. Indigenous agri/nutri-techniques must be saved; they emerge from the collective life/work experiences of our People.
By 2030 a restored body of culture morphs into a Culture Center at Rwenzori Founders, jointly managed with Rwenzori Intern’l University’s planned Arts & Humanities Dept. BioGardens and other groups founded to save and preserve indigenous knowledge of Rwenzori trees and plants, donate research, host field internships and collectively help us to gain FAO's Globally Important Agriculture Heritage System status. Cataloguing and sourcing artifacts and traditions, the University collaborates with Rwenzori Founders, where leading artists in Uganda toil with brass and fire to craft amazing sculptures recognizing local culture, competing to have multi-media displays exhibited at the Great African Museum based in Algeria, a flagstaff project of African Union’s Agenda 2063; established to preserve the culture of pan-Africanism. By 2050, the Culture Center is a formal branch of the Great African Museum. Mentored by the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborogh, TN, the annual Rwenzori Storytelling Festival, open to the public, convenes orators to retell stories collected at Village Training. Attendees vote for the winning display. Preserving the rich cultural heritage of the Rwenzururu Kingdom is embedded in our Food System.
Saved in this dynamic feedback loop, cultural traditions become foundational to the design of effective, contextually-driven, Village Training that affirms the identity of our People. Indeed, Kingdom issues are at stake: deadly skirmishes impacted President Museveni's recognition of Rwenzururu Kingdom with administrative offices in Kasese. A yearning for cultural identity among youth, some embracing extremism, can be assuaged with preservation of traditions. Sloping down into the heart of Congo are a second wave of Food System beneficiaries, 8-10 million strong by 2050, where culturally-designed Village Training and co-creation of food markets with "kin" flourishes and where our People will collect and preserve Nande traditions; eschewing war to embrace culture, health and education to improve life.
Michael, a 12-year old orphan at Christalis Home, chases huge grasshoppers with friends, screaming and jumping to avoid being hit as they fly! Saving their catch in the ground, they’ll fry and eat these later and can’t wait! Food traditions like these are used to inform food labs at KBLC (and private labs) tasked with composing culturally rich and nutritious preparations for children; respecting “taste” that is so pivotal for acceptance of nourishing diets that eliminate malnutrition. Working with KBLC, nutri-interns review stories to draft contextualized family training materials. Waves of interns participate from nutri/agri/humanities, producing effective training for the unique needs of mountain families, optimizing farming practices and transforming family plates.
Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?
Listing advances in tech is a bit like going down the Kazinga Channel just south of Kasese. We know tech zones but, like the huge African elephant we saw bathing at the river bank, its not always easy to tell what's around the bend! Here we list a few:
Broadband in the Mountains: Ubiquitous high speed internet is not only good for our Food System; its baked into Uganda's plans for a more equitable society. Major firms are working to deploy solar-powered drones (atmospheric satellites) and mid-range satellites (with ‘clean space’ protocols) that will open the Rwenzori Mountains to persistent, reliable high speed broadband.
Off Grid Power: We're outside the edge of the grid where electricity is a pipe dream yet the future of energy and transportation are linked. Electricity lines just reached the orphanage in Rwenzori's foot hills so we don't have too far to go! But development here takes time. We know not to expect power from DRC's Grand Inga Dam, that would be the largest hydro-electric project in the world; but advancements in micro-grids, solar/wind energy harvesting working with solid state lithium-ion batteries and many more exciting power technologies can fuel our Vision. Importantly, we leverage our Food System to model household energy solutions and use scale to reduce price point for 325,000 mountain farmers.
Weather Forecasting: It hasn't been pretty and privacy issues abound but its truly amazing how humanity has linked an international network of forecasting systems to predict weather, saving countless lives. Reaching further, our drone "kin" in the seas ("sail drones") will augment/lead precision weather forecasting, helping our mountain farmers as climactic shocks reverberate in the Rwenzoris.
Drone Beehives: GIS/ICT command systems that process myriad data feeds from Uganda Airport/National Park Authorities, weather stations and AI/Cloud platforms will help us to manage the efficiency, safety and reliability of drone beehives (or green warehouses) as they swarm to fulfill service runs. Beehives have maintenance, energy (solar/wind/solid state) systems and a range of electro-mechanical needs; innovations that are emerging rapidly as drones move from recreational to commercial necessity.
Last Mile Delivery: This field is exploding today as large tech hones in on clean, connected, safe and competitive mobility. Onboard precision GIS, sensors, weather assessment, energy dynamics, material, etc., converge to reduce what some estimate is 52% of overall logistics cost - the last mile.
Food as Data: 3D printed, personalized RUTFs with edible, biodegradable, long living sensors that transmit health data to personal healthcare electronic records (mbPHRs) that inform clinicians, optimize treatment and integrate with public health dashboards. Amazing work at Tufts University School of Engineering seems to be paving the way for this extraordinary opportunity to use evidence to end malnutrition in the mountains.
Drone capacity/variety: Diverse food systems actors have varying requirements. "Flying trucks" (23 to 500+lbs) are already prototyped, refrigerated drone transport and more. Agri-drone tech hones terrain fertilizer spraying, land mapping, compliance with soil/land management.
GNPs: Geospatial Nutrition Profiles designed by GlobalRise will map the Rwenzoris, reducing costs for household surveys and dynamically inform Community Nutrition.
Sensors: sensor-driven household/village silos can reduce food waste and link seamlessly to drones, measuring weight, size, ripe/unripe, damaged, etc., reducing needless flights; drone-integrated sensors fuel efficiency, safety, mobility, more.
Cloud AI systems: applications in the Cloud receive a range of inputs enabling smart tablets field work and Village Training, updating gender equity metrics into dashboards, aggregating/filtering/interpreting EAC/AU-linked forecasts
Fintech: Village savings account platforms automate micro-finance/lending/insurance, virtual cash, platform credits and cashless exchange. Our ICT/Drone backbone is a "pay-as-you-go community utility" adopted based on effectiveness not fiat.
Vertical farming tech: adapted for the mountains.
Multi-media tech: 3D holograms display cultural traditions promoting vital connections with stakeholders in our multi-year quest.
Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?
Our Vision requires effective policies, and policy systems with community feedback around compliance protocols. It feels like a policy reboot yet competing ideas on the how of our community-inspired battlecry have unified into a co-created Vision; a great start for effective policy.
Data privacy and security, continuously strengthened, is core to Trust throughout our system and applied to ALL actors. Policy mandates privacy/security protocols within and across the system including those contracted to supply goods and/or services. Gender inclusive hiring is required within and across the system with weekly statistics reported to a University-based civic/civil/academic team that prepares and publishes online report cards using Africa Union’s Gender Equity & Women’s Empowerment Scorecard.
We may build a community utility but its productive, sustainable use is a product of Village Training – the lifeline of our Food System. With critical emphasis on training we implement our strategy via policy, encouraging attendance with credits, e-vouchers, etc; helping families to help themselves. In this policy configuration, public investment in agriculture, food and diets are central to our developing Green Model for Society.
Farmers attending receive onboard credits, village savings accounts tethered to secure mbPHRs for all family members, e-vouchers to visit clinics (to start PHRs), e-discounts for school fees, learn to link the drone utility with phones, training on food system requirements like household/village silos, crop physical requirements, clean water and sanitation training, etc. Onboarding is driven via policy, incentives and rewards.
Real time data from mbPHRs, built with mandated data, privacy and security standards, with non-compliance penalties enforced by the Ministry of Health, document our drive to end malnutrition. Routine public health audits, using de-personalized data from PHRs, ensure we are grounded, measuring transformation in family nutrition and education.
Cash transfer policies have worked in development settings but potentiate negative trade-offs like artificially propping up local food prices. Our nuance: use credit, not cash, that can only be used to pay for the community utility. Cash transfers may occur for other reasons related to development but even then we see this methodology influencing how programs are implemented. For example, families in need of assistance could receive pre-certified food/medicine/other baskets via drone, paid by government, circumventing direct cash transfers thus avoiding price inflation. Cost for drone use is market-driven within a range; it is self-sustaining save government subsidies for onboard. Well publicized fees/taxes are automatically deducted off each exchange, like buying gas.
After family onboarding at routine Village Trainings, drones activate. Promoting use, initial fees are credited by government via phone codes, like home electricity in Kasese is purchased today. We simply expand scope with a proven model. Sales/receipts are automated and funds become immediately available, accessible via phone.
Going green means policy focus on clean water, sanitation, solar energy and siloes that curb food waste. Credits are granted beyond core use that incentivize changes in these key areas as policies steer towards a new green model. Policy officially recognizes that drones are part of community transportation and like roads, can launch diverse mountain investments that improve society. Recognizing this as a principle of social equity shifts perception of public funding for 1 million Ugandan Bukonzo; thus budgets, supplemented with private investment (PPP), are implemented including tax deferrals to steer investment in areas of need – energy systems, food tech, refrigeration, Intel systems. Patent protection is rigorously enforced encouraging next gen food visionaries to help.
Opening air space in National Parks is required to permit drone flight with routinely updated specifications: type, range of drones, cargo weights, compliance and reporting with enforced penalties that encourage discipline in use and development. Policy synchronizes investments in local infrastructure with Uganda, East Africa Community and African Union. Inheritance/land tenure rights are adopted, raising productivity of 75% of all subsistence farmers - women. Compliance with water catchment, river, lake policies is coupled with public debate – a key improvement - and these areas are graded with real time metrics from drone surveillance, reported to the Ministry of Water & Environment.
Student grants are provided to our exploding workforce. Universities, vocational schools and others are evaluated via Uganda's National Education Board and if approved, receive tuition assistance. Government-backed loans for educational infrastructure are also made available. Scaling technical skills is prioritized as a matter of policy to reach Uganda's new Green Model for Society.
Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.
Kasese is mourning loss of life from flash floods early May 7, 2020, leveling homes, a hydro-electric plant, bridges and schools. With Ebola, Covid19 and flash floods it feels like our Place will implode. Thematic interdependencies come to life when disaster strikes. Using the current scenario and concrete examples, we augmented our Systems Map, identified dynamic influences between themes and isolated patterns of resilience.
The storms open floodgates of debate on weak polices governing watersheds. Clearly our culture requires policy with public debate to restore water banks, helping farmers to grasp magnitude of climate risk, necessity of compliance and promoting gender inclusiveness. A big reason we’re taking 1 step forward and 10 steps back is lack of training in sustainable land management. Illegal irrigation compromises lives. Hillside farming, so common here, fuels downstream flows. Soil is often bare between acres upon acres of Matooke, a vital economic resource for our Place. Policy coupled with training in “inner plant cycling” will strengthen soil, improve soil fertility, increase plant variety fortifying culturally-sensitive diets with micronutrients while improving yield/income; monitored with drones. We call this thematic dominoes; a systemic effect that breaks positive…but without visioning it easily cascades the wrong way. Reeling from cost of disaster, inner plant cycling compliance mitigates disaster from storms and is embedded in Uganda’s Vision 2040 to transform subsistence farmers to middle income.
Drone cameras trained on crop mapping, linked to University-maintained AI, provide real time intel to farmers via text to increase yield/income, enable policy compliance and help “agriconomists” quantify/steer mountain economy. At Village Training, agronomists use this info for healthy soil tips while nutritionists use it to transform diets from resilient stunting to nurturing with cultural tastes for kids (and adults)!
Tech connects farmers to formal markets fueling income, enabling trade up from adobe to safer brick homes with steel roofs that capture rain for home/farm, driving jobs in raw materials and construction. Government distributes universal credits via our community utility to move toilets inside, reducing gender-based violence, using tech that recycles human waste into fertilizer. Credit for solar energy is prioritized, farming energy from the blazing equatorial sun.
Drones deploy emergency food/medical supplies to families when bridges and roads wash out, saving countless lives and building resilient communities. Drones scan rivers to prioritize river bank tree/shrub planting campaigns as part of enlightened Bulungi Bwansi, Kasese’s cultural adaptation to mimic Blue Zone tactics for quality living. Deep comprehension of our Food System helps our People to position thematic dominoes to win!
Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.
Tension between Open/Closed Policy. Supportive, publicly vetted policy is essential yet public loops are uncommon and at times eschewed. In 2017 local tensions in the Rwenzururu Kingdom left 150 dead in Kasese, a gaping social wound that President Museveni assuaged during a visit in February 2019 at KBLC, his first visit after the incident; gifting a cow to the king’s mother in the presence of 5,000+ Bukonzo. Villagers fear gatherings that could be seen as fomenting rebellion. In fact, when holding our focus groups in the mountains we were advised to invite local leaders to avert any suspicion. Using broadband and drones, invisibly and visibly enriching our People, requires new policies that recognize the interests of diverse food system actors across the digital and physical divide. Folks in the plains might not be happy! Yet, active, gender inclusive public debate will achieve transparency and community behavioral change.
Unintended Incentives. A transformational food/economic platform raises families out of poverty but creates a pretext for self-advancement. Farmers will optimize crop yield and add land and this may lead to deforestation (a critical issue in Uganda) or use of inorganic fertilizers that reach rivers as climate intensifies. Required Village Training will socialize good farming practices. Automated soil testing with drones to isolate/penalize farmers via timed loss of use of the platform, or requiring drone fertilizing (precise volumes/times) may address these issues. Publicly/privately funded credits for keeping trees, and planting new ones, may counteract poor practices.
Priorities in Public Investments. We envision funding from Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) for infrastructure/services like a Technology Innovation Center (slated for Fort Portal in Uganda’s 2040 plan), technology skills training and development, one or more 3D Food Labs, financial technology for Village Savings Groups and other building blocks. There are only so many ways Uganda can stretch budget! Building a cohesive, sustainable Food System will take political will and public funding; matched with private donors and investors.
Adoption Risks/Rewards. Specializing bank ICT for health functions is trending in the US but requires educating policy makers, banks and health groups. It positions years of strong investment in bank ICT for use in healthcare, enabling things like highly secure digital identity and phone-accessible “mbPHRs” that efficiently track progress against malnutrition. Risk adverse banks are slow to adopt innovation yet Africa uniquely boasts huge successes like mPesa that helped 2% of Kenya’s households escape poverty! Phone banking transacts more than Kenya’s entire GDP today; rethinking banking with people-centered design. Uganda, advancing universal healthcare and a middle income society by 2040, can use medical banking to improve investment efficiencies for digital health/digital banking in the mountains.
3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?
Master Plan/Letters of Commitment. We have strong verbal affirmation from town elders – Mayor’s Office, University, spiritual leaders, local NGOs and leaders in Kampala and Jinja. We must finalize a Master Plan with executed Letters of Commitment that define stakeholder responsibilities around a series of building blocks with timeframes; a 30 year plan. For example, re-imagining Bulungi Bwansi with civil and spiritual leaders, forging alliances between/among stakeholders, work with engineers around climate-driven drone value-adds (mountain surveillance of river bends), MOUs with Kasese Tourism Association, refugee camps, implementation of ongoing mechanism with regulators (like policy boot camp); and work with district/village to craft a multi-media PR plan (not for roll out...that's later). We'll base governance/opps at Kasese Better Living Center, whose major investor is President Museveni, where we're currently tasked to develop community nutrition. The Center, a 4-story 2 acre campus, is a non-profit institution developing community co-created agendas and services; broadcast station, training and meetings rooms, civil/civic/religious gatherings.
Village Training Modalities. Leveraging success of BioGardens' program, a Rwenzori-based NGO that galvanizes mountain farmers around serious causes like saving indigenous knowledge, we'll define initial training w/University experts that is culturally-sensitized, linguistically accurate (Lukonzo, Luganda, etc) and test w/focus groups.
Successful Tech Pilots. Finalize Geospatial Nutrition Profiles designed by GlobalRise to reduce survey costs, improve efficacy of Village Training. With private/public civil engineers and drone experts we will small scale an ICT/drone backbone and isolate policies with Ugandan Airport/National Park Authorities. A similar project in Rwanda delivering blood to mountain clinics offers an operating reference model.
10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?
A Policy Road Map; coordinated with government, embracing gender inclusiveness across stakeholders – commerce, academia, farmer, consumer. Policy boot camps will unpack complex issues: as African Union/East African Community mature continental/regional agri/nutri/climate and tech/satellite/broadband policies, and Uganda's Dev Plan iterates (on 3rd edition now), District traditions/policies must adapt to gain advantage/relevancy. We may live in the jungle but we must keep current! For example policies filtering access to remote broadband via drone-powered/mid-range satellites are evolving regionally. New green/fiscal scoring models of emerging/declining markets is vital for public/private investment. By 2030 our Map is an embedded, ongoing community co-created process.
Tech Innovation Center; diverse and numerous tech jobs require training explosively growing youth here and building innovation capacity with academic experts, investors and entrepreneurs. Our prototype ICT/Drone/Warehouse platform, satellite-linked, is operational, staged for scaled investment with stress-testing: drone flight patterns, pick up/drop off protocols, climate disruptions, sensor use and development, mobile/funds/AI integration, parts/process dev, etc. We'll also design and build a 3D Printing Food Lab, training University interns, and R&D edible sensors that work in the mountains. We "tech up” village savings groups to secure/automate end-to-end payments. Mountain farmers rely on trusted villagers who keep and account for funds by hand. Automation, at its infancy, is amplified via financial literacy training, micro-finance/Village insurance (building existing best-in-class programs); creating demand. Village fintech fuels phone upgrades and delivers social credits that mainstream policies. Life improvements create powerful motivation to onboard our Food System.
Implementing these key areas, we are now ready to launch four 5 year planning cycles to reach destination by 2050.
If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?
$10,000 to promote and fund an annual awards ceremony to celebrate heads of households who demonstrate they are following protocols to eliminate stunting; criteria developed and graded by a panel of clinical professionals.
$10,000 to promote and fund an annual awards ceremony for farmers that use best practices for our environment, criteria developed and graded by a panel of agronomists and Village farmers organized by BioGardens.
$25,000 to build a guest house at Christalis Home orphanage that will house volunteers building our community nutrition programs.
$25,000 to establish offices at Kasese Better Living Center and build both management and field teams.
$30,000 to build capacity at Rwenzori International University.
$30,000 placed in a matching contribution platform to build reserves for our programs - Farm to Plate, Community Nutrition Program, Geospatial Nutrition Profiles, ICT/Drone-Enhanced Food System.
$70,000 to accomplish our three key milestones by or before 2023; (Master Plan & Letters of Commitment; document Village Training Modalities/capacity building at BioGardens; and, implement tech pilots).
If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?
Better food means a better life. We believe there are endless possibilities to transform our planet by applying our collective intellect and resources to build regenerative and nourishing food systems. It can make a profound difference for everyone; including extremely poor mountainous people. Forgotten by the world, they fail for knowledge and their children grope for food, dying each day from malnutrition. They have no hope.
What's so ironic is that they are courageously striving every day to give us a better world! Cherishing homes, water and lands, their traditions and indigenous knowledge may help to save mountains of splendid grandeur; sacred, awe-inspiring places where we look up to dream new dreams and discern new visions. For less than $1.25/day they work tirelessly growing foods common to our table like rice, coffee, bananas and potatoes. Many times working against insufferable odds to live, they give us life.
What shall we do? At the intersection of technology and food there are amazing yet to be discovered business and social models that could powerfully transform society for our good and for generations to come. We point to these new possibilities. May they unleash the very best we have to offer so that we can give back to them, in respect for what they do for everyone of us. In reality, by helping them to improve their lives, and food systems, we help ourselves...a virtuous circle of life.
Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.
Mother/baby in field use drone for market; funds credited. Income rise; Farmer must visit clinic; results loaded on PHR. Health improves; Farmer attend Training Diet improves, KBLC trainers w/BioGardens Training improves; Interns teach/collect stories Training broadened; Interns profile stories/displays/Museum Culture celebrated; KBLC/Uni/farmers Policy Road Map Gender inclu;Bulungi Bwansi River/Irrigation/Health strengthened.