17 January 2008

Uganda: Wide Spread Famine Hits Karamoja Region

Mbale — KARAMOJA is experiencing widespread famine following last year's torrential rains and floods that washed away bridges and destroyed crops in the region.

The leaders say the situation has been compounded by the December and January dry spells which have caused crop failures and food shortage in most homesteads.

Local leaders told Daily Monitor yesterday that many people especially vulnerable women have resorted to eating wild fruits and Acacia tree leaves, while the youths have gone back to the kraals to feed on raw milk and blood.

Kotido Resident District Commissioner Rex Achila said whereas the drought- prone Karamoja region occasionally receives food from Soroti, Katakwi, Mbale and Sironko, the drought and high prices of fuel in the region have made it impossible to get food from other districts.

"As I speak now, the famine situation is really very bad. The government should intervene urgently," Mr Achila said. He said in the worst hit parishes of Losilang and Podongor in Kotido, an estimated average of 50 to 60 head of cattle die everyday due to lack of water and pasture.

The resident District Commissioner, Mr Nahaman Ojwe, said Karamoja is witnessing the worst famine ever and that it is likely to go on for some time as the dry spell intensifies in January through February and March.

He said women and children in Moroto are now picking firewood and trek to Moroto town daily to sell to get some money to buy maize flour for their families.

Mr Ojwe further said that in Moroto malwa (local brew) residues have become very important foodstuffs for people in manyattas.

The Karamoja Agro-pastoral Development Programme manager, Mr Michael Kuskus says prices for the few foodstuf have been hiked by traders due to high fuel prices, making life very difficult for an ordinary peasant.

In Nakapiripirit District, the situation is not any different as many Karimojong warriors are reportedly wandering in search of grass, water and food for their animals and families.

The RDC, Mr Andrew Nabaja says the entire population in the district is starving, the animals have grown very skinny and bonny and that the people seem to be having no hope.

The Presidential assistant in charge disarmament, Mr Michael Lokawua consented there is great famine in Karamoja region but declined to give details.

Kotido Woman MP Margaret Achila said the wild vegetables and grass that people are now resorting to in Karamoja could cause problems because they are some times poisonous.


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