Karamoja, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Several families across Karamoja region are one the verge of starvation due to severe food shortage. Although this isn’t the first time the region is experiencing food shortage, the current situation is worse owing to last year’s floods and the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19, which forced families to sell the little available food to meet some of their needs.
According to available information, some families in Kotido, Kaabong, Napak, Moroto and Amudat districts live on a single meal a day. Joseph Lomongin, the Kotido Chief Administrative Officer, says about 60% of the households in Kotido are facing food shortage. He says last year’s floods destroyed several crop gardens in the district. Lomongin also says that during the lockdown, several families sold the little food they had stored to meet some of their domestic needs since movement was restricted.
“People are not safe and it’s not only here in Kotido but in the entire region. It’s now worse with the resurrection of cattle rustling,” he said. Lomongin said although the Office of the Prime Minister-OPM sent some food targeting the most vulnerable persons, the situation is not good and needs urgent attention.
Christine Akot, the Moroto District LC V Vice Chairperson, says most families have resorted to eating wild fruits. She says that much as the OPM distributed some food relief recently it could not reach to every household. “This year we are most likely to lose people due to hunger should there be no immediate action from the government and development partners,” she said.
According to Akot, some breast feeding mothers are forced to eat residue with young children something she said isn’t healthy for the mother who have just given birth. Samson Lokeris, the Dodoth East Member of parliament in Kaabong district, says the most affected sub counties in Kaabong district are Loyoro, Timu, Sidon and Kaabong town council.
“The entire Karamoja region needs urgent food relief otherwise people are going to die of hunger,” he said. According to Lokeris, over 40, 000 households in the entire region have no food. Matilida Nachan, a mother of six and a resident of Sidok village in Sidok Sub County in Kaabong district, says the government should come to their rescue as they only survive on bitter wild fruits.
“We don’t know how the situation will be in the next one month if government will not come to our rescue,” he said. Remigio Achia, the Pian County MP in Nabilatuk district, says half of the district was hit by floods and locusts last year. “We have raised this at very many forums about the looming hunger in Karamoja and the government needs to address the situation before it gets out of hands,” he said.
Joseph Lomonyang, the Napak LC V Chairperson, says five sub counties in the district are seriously affected and need argent food distribution. He said Napak district, which has been a food basket for the sub-region is desperate for food following the total crop failure last year resulting from flooding.
“When you look at the sub counties such as Lotome, Ngoleriet, Matany, Lopei, and Lorengechora people are starving we don’t need to wait and register death,” he said. Marrio Tengei, the Nakapiripirit District Production Officer, says despite the fact that residents tried to cultivate food their crops did not do well.
“Initially this would be the time when people begin preparing their gardens but right now everyone is weak, people are sleeping with hunger and lack energy to work in the garden,” he said community.