Children under five at risk of mortality in northern Uganda

by John Sauer
Kampala, Uganda, January 27, 2003. Nearly 18 percent of children under the age of five years were found at risk of mortality in a part of northern Uganda according to a recent rapid nutritional assessment conducted last week by Action Against Hunger, an international non-governmental organization.

The assessment was conducted in Pabbo Camp, Gulu District, one of the largest camps in Northern Uganda, in all about 57 percent of the children under five surveyed are in a precarious situation. This potential nutritional crisis might have cropped up following recent events in northern Uganda and security related access issues. Camp populations have had difficulties accessing their fields, and thus raises prospects of significantly reduced consumable crops.

In response to the assessment, Action Against Hunger desk officer Roger Persichino, said, "There is a potential problem but we need to carry out further surveys to know if there is a real nutritional crisis. We hope to obtain access to conduct further assessments." World Food Program is carrying out food distributions in northern Uganda, but Action Against Hunger is concerned that the assessment might be representative of the overall picture in Acholiland. There are presently an estimated 800,000 internally displaced people in northern Uganda.

Depending on security and access, Action Against Hunger with existing US and European support will:

  • Expand the scope of its assessments to the whole of Acholiland, as much as security permits;
  • Expand its network of feeding centers, in cooperation with United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Wold Food Program (WFP), as soon as possible, to address the needs of children most at risk.
  • Refocus its current water and sanitation activities to the most affected camps, with a focus on health facilities.

"We want to be able to assess the true extent of the problem and if needed avert a nutritional crisis, we therefore hope we will obtain access to the affected populations," Mr. Persichino said.

Please contact John Sauer for more information, +1 (212) 967-7800 Ext. 103,

Roger Persichino in New York and Regis Bilodel in Uganda are available for interviews.