Approximately 2 million people in the areas of Teso, Acholi, Lango, Karamoja and West Nile are affected by acute shortage of food as a result of crop failure due to prolonged drought.
The most affected areas are Amuria and Katakwi districts in the Teso region and Karamoja areas. Other areas affected include Adjumani, Koboko, Arua and Nebbi in Northern Uganda.
A URCS rapid assessment as well as the information from WFP, FAO, the affected local governments and district disaster management committees point the failure of crops to prolonged drought, and the fact that these areas had been affected by armed conflict and floods resulting into low yields.
It has been noted that some areas affected by famine did not engage in farming due to lack of seeds and planting implements whereas in areas bordering Karamoja like Pader, people could not access their gardens due to fear of attacks by Karimojong warriors.
URCS officers have reached many areas and have witnessed the suffering of those affected. Together with the leaders of the affected communities, they have identified many needs, the most crucial being food.
It has also been noted that lack of income-generating activities means many farmers had resorted to selling their food for cash. Sources reported that some residents in the Teso region had sold their produce before the harvest period.
In Kitgum district, a rapid assessment was conducted by the district and the findings were presented in the District Disaster Management Committee to which URCS is a member. The situation was categorized as catastrophic.
The entire district is affected equally with no food aid available for distribution.
Most of the crops cultivated have dried due to the long spell of dry season and funds are not available for procurement of food.
In the northern Amuru District, some residents have resorted to eating poisonous wild cassava as a coping mechanism and, consequently, two people died of food poisoning while four others were admitted to a health centre. Other Amuru residents reported people were feeding on wild vegetation after their crops had withered.
In Teso sub region, most of the households affected have lost their food crops in the gardens due to the scotching heat. These areas are experiencing a prolonged dry spell that started at the end of April. This was immediately after the people had planted their crops. Other Districts like Sironko and Tororo are also experiencing same problem though the situation is not so alarming yet.
Uganda Red Cross Society in its mandate as an auxiliary to government service and its mission of improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable people in the country calls upon all people of goodwill to generously donate food items and cash support to feed the population that is at risk of starvation.
The National Society aims to raise emergency food for 50,000 people in the affected districts. This requires 3030 metric tonnes of cereals, pulses, beans, salt and vegetable oil for three months. The cost of each metric ton to be delivered to beneficiaries is USD854.
Uganda Red Cross Society will spearhead the collection of food and financial support from individuals and corporate bodies that wish to contribute to the cause. The National Society will also provide storage space, transport and distribute all food items collected. Two URCS officers will coordinate with the government and other agencies.
Contributions can be channeled through the Secretary General URCS, plot 28/30 Lumumba Avenue or to the URCS branch coordinators present in the districts. Cash deposits can be made on Uganda Red Cross Society Finance Emergency, Account Number: 0108213406906, Standard Chartered Bank.
URCS assures the general public that it will ensure that all the donations reach the people affected and are duly accounted for.