60 districts hit by famine
By Pascal Kwesiga
Over 530,000 people in 60 districts are at a risk of starvation. The most affected area is Karamoja, where at least 50 people have already died, according to a statement released by Hilary Onek, the disaster preparedness minister.
Onek said the situation is likely to get worse until the next harvest in late November and December. He added that the country is facing acute shortage of food caused by abnormal rainfall patterns in most parts of the country this year.
Uganda experienced abnormally heavy rains characterised by floods and hail storms, which destroyed crops in March, April and early May, followed by a prolonged dry spell that caused further destruction from late May to July.
“The extreme weather conditions have caused food shortage in many parts of the country,” Onek said.
The affected areas include parts of Teso, Lango, Bunyoro, central, south- western, Rwenzori, Busoga, Acholi and north-eastern regions. As a result, a growing number of children are suffering from malnutrition.
“We are treating these children at therapeutic feeding centres,” Onek said.
The minister also explained that the Government and humanitarian agencies such as the World Food Program (WFP), International Organisation for Migration, United Nations Population Agency, World Health Organisation, UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, World Vision and Save the Children, have since started distributing food supplies to the affected communities, especially in Karamoja.
The agencies have supplied beans, fortified porridge, cooking oil, cow peas and maize flour, beginning with the most vulnerable people such as the elderly and child-headed families. Onek, however, said they could only support 1,566 persons from 261 households, out of the estimated 530,000 people in need.
The minister noted that the Office of the Prime Minister is developing a multisectoral community resilience plan to build the resilience and adaptive capacity of the affected communities to mitigate effects of climate change and related disasters.
“The provision of relief food and medical services to the affected families will continue for at least three months. More fortified foods will be provided to malnourished children, pregnant women and lactating mothers,” Onek added.
The minister asked the affected communities to use the food supplies sparingly as the Government and humanitarian agencies look for more resources.