Uganda: WFP to send food to drought-stricken Karamoja region

KAMPALA, 19 February (IRIN) - The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said this week it would start delivering relief food worth US$1.8 million to the drought-stricken northeastern region of Karamoja, where some 300 people have reportedly died from hunger-related diseases.
WFP's Uganda country director, Ken Davies, on Tuesday told a press briefing in Kampala that between 4,000 and 5,000 mt of food would be made available to the Karamoja region between March and June.

The relief food, comprising cereals and cooking oil, will be distributed based on an assessment of needs in the three Karamoja districts of Kotido, Moroto and Nakapiripirit.

"Come March this year, there is really a need to provide food to the region of Karamoja," Davies said. "By next week, the first batch consisting of about 1000 tonnes food rations will be arriving in Karamoja to be distributed to the people in the area."

Peter Lokeris, the Ugandan minister of state in charge of Karamoja, confirmed the deaths. "The situation in Karamoja has not been the best," Lokeris told journalists on Tuesday. "The local councillors are still compiling the exact figure but as for now I can tell you that the number of people who have died are far more than 300."

According to Lokeris, the severe drought in the Karamoja region is a direct result of poor rains last year bringing in little harvest. "For nearly a year, Karamoja has had no rains," Lokeris said.

The drought-prone, semi-arid region suffers from frequent food shortages, and is also affected by insecurity, largely due to cattle rustling activities by the mainly pastoralist population.


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