KC hands out food provided by WFP to a woman and her malnourished child in Karamoja. Copyright: WFP/Marc Hofer
Hunger ambassador KC Concepcion’s first ever visit to Africa took her to the heart of the continent, in Uganda, where she saw deep deprivation but also places of plenty. In everything, she found beauty, smiles and possible solutions to hunger.
The World Food Programme’s national ambassador in the Philippines, Kristina Cassandra “KC” Concepcion, last week visited Uganda’s impoverished Karamoja region as well as Purchase for Progress (P4P) projects in Kapchorwa in eastern Uganda.
It was an eye-opening, if not life-changing, experience,” the recording artist, dancer, actress and talk show host said on her departure. “I saw a country of extremes,” she 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 following years of selling their surplus food to WFP. 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 visited people that WFP helps train in making low-energy cooking stoves so that they can cut less trees and avoid insecure environments in search of fire wood.
In Kapchorwa, she participated in a corn harvest, loading produce onto donkeys and stacking the food into the granary of a WFP-supplier farmer. She also visited a site where WFP is constructing a warehouse to help smallholders easier dry, clean, store and bag their maize.
I could hardly believe it when the children in Karamoja began to smile at me and take my hand. At one time I had three children holding my hand,” KC said.
The situation and how WFP reponds
Besides extreme poverty, Karamoja is also troubled by insecurity, environmental erosion and severe natural disasters partly caused by climate change. As a result, the semi-arid 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 the people’s livelihoods.
In Kapchorwa and other surplus producing parts of Uganda, the P4P programme supports households that can meet their food and nutrition needs but require increased incomes to become fully food secure.