Experts share tips on how to end hunger in Karamoja

The Daily Monitor Report dated July 25this year, indicated that eight in every 10 Karimojong households had no or limited food.

Leaders claimed that hunger-related diseases had killed more than 900 residents since the start of the year, with the misery made worse by an increase in raids and massive crop failure as a result of drought.

Insecurity caused by raids blamed on local warriors prompted a counter-operation by Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF), Uganda’s army, which said it had taken 400 suspects into custody since May 16, 2022.

The report also observed that it was majorly the youth affected whose arrests affected families where they were bread winners.

Due to dire need, the government responded by sending a consignment of relief items on July 20, 2022 including; 52 metric tonnes of maize flour.

About 238 metric tonnes of beans were also sent following a flag-off by the Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness, Hillary Onek.

Earlier on, National Unity Platform (NUP) headed by Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine had also sent a consignment of beans and maize flour amounting to 2.5 tons each on July 14.

The latest data from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) indicates that all nine districts in Karamoja are classified in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis). 

About 518,000 people are said to have faced high levels of acute food insecurity between March and July with the most affected districts being Kaabong, Kotido, Moroto and Nabilatuk. 

Professor Augustus Nuwagaba, an International consultant on economic transformation, told The Albertine Journal that hunger is a result of supply chain constraints, especially weather.

Robert Rukahemura, the Social Affairs Manager Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, said soils in Karamoja can support agriculture hence advising the government to construct dams and irrigation schemes to increase small holder farmer’s productivity.

“This will help to tap the rain water for irrigation during the dry spells since Karamoja region which is semi-arid receives heavy rains in a short period of time annually,” Rukahemura said.

Meanwhile, Nuwagaba advises the government to embrace agriculture mechanisation in order to increase food productivity and value addition on harvests.

However, Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom Cultural Advisor, Hajj Burhani Kyakuhaire tasked the government to revive the indigenous crop varieties which are believed to be medicinal, claiming that grafted ones are prone to pests and diseases.

“Much emphasis should be put on growing foods like millet, cassava, sweet potatoes, sorghum, cowpeas, ground nuts, rice, maize and beans,” Kyakuhaire said.

“The government must empower the Ministry of Agriculture to have state owned farms for food production and modernized storage facilities in order to manage the food outflow as one way of damage control.”

Kyakuhaire also advised the government to streamline priorities in Karamoja and make them human-centered by extending services nearer to locals giving a highlight on agriculture credit facilities, a subsidised tractor hire scheme, market research, post-harvest handling and value addition facilities.

Meanwhile, Rukahemura urged the government to make their programmes on agriculture timely, giving an example of distributing enough seeds to locals at the beginning of every planting season.

Ismail Kusemererwa, the Executive Director Mid-Western Region Anti-Corruption Coalition (MIRAC), a local organization, says there is a need for the government to conserve the environment.

“We must restore the environment, practice re-afforestation, swamp demarcation, afforestation and cancellation of all land titles in wetlands. Through that, the country will be in position to fight the effects of global warming that have dire impact on farming,” Kusemererwa said.

The executive director says the country needs to invest in early warning systems in areas prone to disasters giving an example of Bududa, Karamoja, Mbale and Kigezi in order to alert the locals to always be on alert.

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