Nairobi - WFP launches a six-month food relief operation to assist nearly 600,000 Ugandans suffering from drought in the northeastern region of Karamoja.
NAIROBI - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a six-month food relief operation to assist nearly 600,000 Ugandans suffering from drought in the northeastern region of Karamoja.
"Karamoja already suffers from the highest levels of malnutrition in Uganda and given the poor 2004 harvest, we are greatly concerned about the fate of the hundreds of thousands of people there who risk running out of food before the next harvest in September," said WFP Country Director Ken Noah Davies.
Karamoja, comprising Moroto, Kotido and Nakapiripirit districts, has been hit by drought every five years since 1980. According to a joint WFP, Ministry of Health and Unicef nutrition survey in August 2004 the region's average malnutrition rate of 18.7 percent and mortality rate of 3.9/10,000/day are well above the rates found in other regions of the country, including camps for the internally displaced.
A second assessment carried out in August by WFP in conjunction with FAO, OCHA, USAID, FEWSNET, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Agriculture confirmed three consecutive months (June-August) of below normal rainfall, low crop production and consequently a slow onset of drought.
In an effort to avert hunger and malnutrition, especially among children under five, schoolchildren, the elderly and pregnant and lactating women, WFP has begun distributing food in the sub-counties of Kalapata and Nyakwae in Kotido district, and Rupa and Nadunget in Moroto district. To date the agency has provided a two-month ration of maize and beans to over 123,000 people. More food will be distributed over the next six months reaching nearly 600,000 people before the September harvest.
In addition to this assistance, WFP food aid projects will continue to support nutrition interventions through health centres and adult education, as well as the creation of community assets. WFP school feeding programmes in the region will ensure that primary schoolchildren receive a nutritious meal in school, and that a take home ration is provided to primary school girls who manage to attend class at least 80 percent of the school days.
Government statistics from 2000 showed that Karamoja has chronically low school enrolment figures, high drop-out rates, low retention and high poverty levels. Only 6.8 percent of people over the age of 15 have completed primary education compared to the national average of 25 percent. Only 18 percent of men and 6 percent of the women are literate, compared to national averages of 63 percent and 45 percent respectively.
The US$6.8 million drought relief programme in Karamoja is part of WFP Uganda's countrywide relief and recovery operation, valued at US$263 million over three years. Currently, the agency requires an additional US$54 million to maintain its full activities from May until December 2005.
More than 1.6 million people in northern Uganda, uprooted by civil conflict with the Lord's Resistance Army, continue to receive WFP support through its 2005 relief and recovery operation. WFP Uganda plans to provide food assistance to a total of over three million people, including IDPs, refugees, schoolchildren, HIV/AIDS and TB infected and affected families, street children and orphans, malnourished children and mothers, and people involved in building community assets in post conflict areas.
WFP buys half of the food it distributes from local traders and small-scale farmers. In 2004, the agency bought food (mainly maize and beans) worth nearly US$28 million in Uganda.
In addition to food contributions provided by the Ugandan Government, WFP Uganda has received the following donations in 2005: United States (US$ 25 million); UK-DFID (US$ 3.7 million); Netherlands (US$ 1.8 million); Multilateral - Sweden (US$ 1.6 million); Belgium (US$1.3 million); Canada (US$ 820,000); Japan (US$ 580,000); Uganda (US$ 58,650).
Each year WFP feeds an average of 90 million people including 56 million hungry children in more than 80 countries. WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency and the United Nations frontline agency in the fight against global hunger.
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