MANILA - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) – Philippines’ National Ambassador Against Hunger, Kristina Cassandra “KC” Concepcion, embarked on her first field mission outside the country last week when she visited WFP operations in Uganda’s impoverished Karamoja region, as well as in the grain basket district of Kapchorwa in the east of the country.
“It was an eye-opening, even life-changing, experience,” the recording artist, dancer, actress and talk show host said on her return to Manila.
After more than two decades of conflict, peace has returned to northern Uganda. As a result, more than 80 percent of people who had been displaced by conflict have now returned to their original homes and farms. While Uganda produces enough food to feed its population, access to sufficient nutritious food remains a challenge countrywide.
“I saw a country of extremes,” KC said. “In Karamoja, I met a half-blind grandmother with six children in her care cooking wild vegetables as the family’s only meal for the day. In Kapchorwa, on the other hand, I found women whose quality of life has improved significantly since they’ve been able to sell their surplus food to WFP.”
KC’s five-day field mission allowed her to visit remote areas of Uganda where WFP is working towards lasting solutions to hunger, whilst providing assistance to the most vulnerable, hungry communities. In addition to interacting with different WFP programme beneficiaries – from women farmers to babies in therapeutic feeding centres – she was also able to see how people live.
KC visited a traditional Karimojong homestead, sat with the people and listened to their stories before heading out to meet with mothers of malnourished children at a WFP-supported hospital. In addition, she talked with people trained by WFP to make fuel efficient cooking stoves so that they can cut fewer trees and limit damage to the local environment in the search for fire wood.
In Kapchorwa, KC participated in the corn harvest, loading produce onto donkeys and stacking the food into the granary of a farmer who sells to WFP. She also visited a site where WFP is constructing a warehouse to help smallholder farmers more easily dry, clean, store and bag their maize.
Besides poverty, Karamoja is also troubled by insecurity, environmental erosion and severe natural disasters which are partly caused by climate change. As a result, the region suffers chronic food shortages and malnutrition.
WFP provides relief assistance to people that cannot meet their basic food and nutrition needs. Its main focus, though, is addressing the root causes of vulnerability by supporting programmes that strengthen and help diversify people’s livelihoods.
In Kapchorwa and other surplus-producing parts of Uganda, WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme supports households that can meet their food and nutrition needs but require increased incomes to become fully food-secure.
WFP is committed to helping the Government of Uganda and the communities it serves to find lasting solutions to hunger, applying whatever tool is most effective in a particular situation – whether it is food assistance, livelihood support, education and sensitization, or support for local production and markets. In fact, more than 70 percent of food that WFP distributes in Uganda is bought within the country. WFP is the single largest buyer of food and the largest quality-oriented purchaser of grain in Uganda, currently spending over US$50 million a year.
For further information:
Angeli Mendoza, WFP/Manila, Tel. +63 2 7502561 Mob. +63 917 8809368, firstname.lastname@example.org