UGANDA: Hunger-Related Mortality in Karamoja Continues Despite the “4Kgs” Government Food Donation

Karamojong women and children
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Karamojong women and children in search of food in Agago District in Acoli Sub –Region –Photo by Jesse Johnson James

Despite the government donation of 4 kilograms of food relief to the hunger-stricken people of the Karamoja Sub–Region, death related to hunger is still on the rise. In June this year, the Office of the Prime Minister distributed three kilograms and one kilogram of maize flour and beans respectively to the most vulnerable households in Karamoja to avert the biting famine being experienced there.

“As of 8th July this year, over 580 people in Karamoja had already died of hunger…” says Faith Nakut, the Napak District Woman Member of Parliament. According to Nakut, the government donation to the starving Karamojong was unreasonable, and she has been forced to use her own resources to help rescue the situation.

“The needs are so immense. I have tried even exhausting my salary but it has not even reached 0.001 percent of the need. So I need support seriously.” She reveals

Faith Nakut on Tuesday afternoon raised the matter on the floor of Parliament. Karamoja Sub–Region is a semi-arid area where the majority of the population lives on agro-pastoral or pastoral livelihoods.

According to the analysis by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification released in June the year, the current biting hunger in one of the poorest Sub –Regions in Uganda is attributed to insecurity, cattle rustling, the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, high commodity prices, climate change, as well as the limited resources.

The analysis further revealed that an estimated 518,000 people in Karamoja are facing acute hunger. Meanwhile, a total of 58 children and elderly persons in Kotido District reportedly died of hunger between May and June this year.

Nakut says “It is very shameful for an agriculture–rich country to have people dying of hunger.” She asked the government to intervene as fast as possible.

“There are issues of procedures, meetings, and discussions. Those can wait, all those can be handled as food is being transported home. The urgency is real, so any delay means lives lost.” She appealed.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Robina Nabanja, revealed that the government has earmarked 35.7 million USD (135 Billion Shillings) for food relief donations in Karamoja Sub–Region for the next three months. This according to her, follows the resolution of the Cabinet during a meeting held on 11th July, this year.

“Our people in Karamoja are our fellow Ugandans…we shall do everything within our powers to make sure that we don’t lose any lives anymore,” Nabanja said on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

Francis Adome, the Moroto Municipality Member of Parliament, however, criticized the government for using what he termed as an unsustainable approach to avert food insecurity in Karamoja Sub–Region.

He says the government should come up with solutions that will solve the problem once and for all. “Government is losing a lot of money in purchasing those food items. Why can’t we put that money to the right use?” he said.

“If it is about mechanizing, Karamoja has a green belt. There are regions within Karamoja that can produce food. We can create a food basket for the region. We can have food security.” He continued.

Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament tasked the Prime Minister to come up with a comprehensive statement on the government’s strategy to resolve the food crisis not only in Karamoja Sub –Region, but also in the entire country.

According to a health report from Karamoja Sub–Region, over 200 children die of malnutrition every year, especially in the districts of Moroto and Kaabong.

On Wednesday morning, the National Unity Platform –NUP flagged the distribution of 5,000 kilograms of maize flour and beans to households in Karamoja Sub–Region.

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