The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Hunger Looms in Kasese

After surviving one of the harshest floods in its history mid last year, Kasese district is at risk of a famine, due to a lengthy dry spell that has scotched crops and left pastoralists stretched.

The areas worst affected include Karusandara, Munkunyu and Kichwamba sub-counties. In Karusandara sub-county most maize plantations have dried up leaving farmers counting their losses. Pastoralists around Queen Elizabeth national park recently appealed for help from the district authorities.

Speaking to The Observer recently, John Byamugisa, a pastoralist from Bigando village in Kichwamba, said they had run out of pasture to graze animals in his home area and milk production had dropped. Byamugisa said they had been forced to trek long distances in search of water and pasture after the seasonal rivers there dried up. He appealed to the government to allow them access to Queen Elizabeth national park for pasture.

The district veterinary officer, Dr Godfrey Kalule, said he was aware of the crisis and was moving to deal with it.

"We have advertised for the construction of valley dams in all the areas that are occupied by the pastoralists so that the problem of lack of water can be tackled," he told a group of pastoralists at the Kasese Catholic Social Services hall.

In May, Kasese's River Nyamwamba burst its banks, flooded most areas and killed 11 people. Most infrastructure including hospitals, schools and roads were damaged, after a week of non-stop rainfall. There is no comment from the Office of the Prime Minister on the situation. The office is charged with resolving disasters.

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