WFP warns of disaster in Uganda as food stocks for flood victims run low

Published on 10 September 2007

WFP warns that disaster looms for hundreds of thousands of Ugandans hit by floods if the agency’s appeal for assistance is not answered quickly.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that disaster looms for hundreds of thousands of Ugandans hit by floods if the agency’s appeal for assistance is not answered quickly.

“The situation is dire for hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their homes, their belongings and most of their crops,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran from WFP headquarters in Rome.

“It can take just days for the effects of acute malnutrition to claim the life of a child.”

Heaviest flooding

We are quickly running out of food, and before long, thousands of flood-hit families will have nothing else to eat.

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran

Massive flooding this year in Uganda has badly affected some 300,000 people. Poor farmers in 16 districts in eastern and northern Uganda and the drought-prone Karamoja region are suffering from the heaviest rains in decades, with the majority of families reporting crop losses of 90 percent.

Continued flooding means normal planting in September and October will be delayed, with no harvest until February at earliest.

WFP needs US$17 million to buy food for flood victims and US$3.2 million to provide trucks, boats, aircraft and emergency road and bridge repairs on behalf of the humanitarian community.

WFP has so far assisted thousands of hungry people and airlifted food and other assistance by helicopter on behalf of other agencies to marooned communities.

Flood appeal

So far, WFP has received one-fifth of the amount in its flood appeal three weeks ago.

“We are quickly running out of food, and before long, thousands of flood-hit families will have nothing else to eat,” said Sheeran, adding that WFP has been forced to bridge the food gap by drawing heavily from food stocks destined for thousands of internally displaced people and refugees

Without new contributions, WFP’s food assistance supply line for a total of 1.7 million people in Uganda will break in December.

Malnourished children

Projects were already short of funds prior to the floods, and now stocks of special foods for malnourished children have been exhausted. Beans will run out later this month.

In total, WFP needs US$60 million to feed 1.7 million people until March 2008 – including US$17 million of the US$21 million appeal to feed 300,000 flood victims, and US$39 million for 1.4 million displaced, returnees, and refugees fleeing from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Copyright: 2007 WFP/Marcelo Spina Hering

Floodwaters have severed road access in northern Uganda to 30 camps.

WFP also needs US$3.2 million in cash, mainly for air support but also to repair roads and bridges.

Swedish engineers sent to assist WFP have now assessed roads and bridges in Soroti, Lira, Gulu, Kitgum and Pader districts.

Floodwaters have severed road access in northern Uganda to 30 camps, housing one million people who have taken refuge from conflict between rebels and the Government.

Helicopters, airlifts, airdrops

A combination of helicopters, airlifts or airdrops are being planned to reach these and other isolated communities.

While rapid assessments to many locations have already taken place, more detailed food, crop and nutrition assessments are planned, especially to locations where floods prevented access.

In addition to logistical support from the Government of Uganda, donors who have contributed to WFP’s appeal in response to the floods in Uganda are: UN Central Emergency Response Fund (US$3 million); Britain’s Department for International Development (US$1.5 million), Canada (US$1 million), Belgium (US$88,000), Czech Republic (US$50,000) and private donors (US$50,000).

Also the United States Government, through USAID’s Office of Food for Peace, contributed in September US$18.9 million to WFP’s ongoing operation to assist 1.4 million displaced, returnees and refugees in Uganda.