Drought shouldn’t be a surprise for us – Dr. Suruma

Drought shouldn't be a surprise for us – Dr. Suruma
Former Finance Minister Dr. Ezra Suruma. Courtesy Photo.

Former Finance Minister Dr. Ezra Suruma says drought shouldn’t have ravaged Uganda the way it has because any economist worth their name knows that it is one of the factors that affect economic cycles.

Delivering a keynote address at a dialogue on the 2017/18 national budget organized by Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) on Friday, Dr. Suruma said since classical times, it became known that climate change affects business or economic cycles, hence the need to plan for it.

According to Dr. Suruma, the issue at hand should be how to plan ahead and respond to climatic factors like drought, adding that focus should be on how to mitigate the adverse impacts on individuals and families.

The drought in 2016 adversely affected food production resulting into acute food shortages in many parts of the country.

The government estimates that 13 million Ugandans particularly in eastern and northern Uganda are in need of food relief. Already food rations are being distributed in many parts of the country. Food prices have also been rising exponentially.

Interestingly, month-in-month-out, year-in-year-out both the Uganda Bureau of Statistics and Bank of Uganda keep highlighting how climate causes inflationary pressures and impact on economic growth.

While the monetary side has a close and keen eye on climatic factors, the fiscal side is oblivious, considering that nothing much is being done to mitigate the impacts of climate like building irrigation schemes, reserving food or promoting drought resistant crops.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Keith Muhakanizi, admitted that the current adverse effects of drought on food production and economic growth are the first in 25 years.

Speaking in an earlier interview with this publication, former agriculture minister, Victoria Ssekitoleko, wondered how Uganda, endowed with lots of water, cannot harness that to mitigate the impacts of drought.