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Many Ugandans facing starvation

By Henry Sekanjako, Mary Karugaba

Added 10th February 2017 10:24 AM

There is fear that if people do not manage the available food stocks, the situation could deteriorate in the next two months.

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There is fear that if people do not manage the available food stocks, the situation could deteriorate in the next two months.

The majority of Ugandans in 88 districts across the country are surviving on one meal or half a meal a day.

According to the latest Government report on the food security situation in the country, 1.3 million Ugandans are in need of relief food.

Presenting the report to Parliament yesterday, agriculture minister Vincent Ssempijja said only 28 of the 116 districts in the country were fairly food secure.

“Sixty-five percent of the population in Karamoja sub-region is in a crisis phase of food insecurity, meaning they have access to one meal or half a meal a day,” Ssempijja said.

He added that 35% of the population in the districts of Katakwi, Amuria, Kumi, Bukedia, parts of Serere and Kaberamaido are in the same crisis as the Karamoja sub-region.

According to Ssempijja, 50% of the people in Koboko, Yumbe, Moyo, Maracha, Arua, Zombo, Nebbi, Adjumani, Amuru and Nwoya, among other districts, were in a stressed phase of food insecurity, having one-and-a half meals in a day.

He explained that only the17 districts of Oyam, Apac, Kiryandongo, Masindi, Bulisa, Kyankwanzi, Nakaseke, Kiboga, Kamuli, Mubende, Luwero, Kyegegwa, Sembabule, Kiruhura, Lwengo, Ntungamo and Kibuku can still afford all meals, but their stocks were also running low.

Kisoro, Kabale, Wakiso, Kampala, Kanungu, Rukungiri, Mitooma, Bushenyi, Rubirizi, Ibanda, Kasese, Kabarole, Masaka, Mityana, Gomba, Lyantonde, Kalungu, Butambala, among other districts as fairly food secure.

“Much as the situation is worrying, no part of the country is in a famine phase of food insecurity. The current food security ranges between minimal and crisis,” Ssempijja said.

However, he noted that there is fear that if families and individuals do not manage the available food stocks at household levels well, the situation could deteriorate to the emergency and famine stages of the food insecurity in the next two months.

Ssempijja attributed the situation to long dry spells, crop pests and diseases, livestock diseases, selling of food and gambling by the youth, saying these are some of the factors that have affected food production.

“To avert the situation, the Government has provided food relief for the affected vulnerable families, while awareness campaigns by different government departments have also been undertaken to sensitise Ugandans on measures such as rain water harvesting and irrigation,” he added.

Interventions

Ssempijja said that the Government also plans to promote the production and consumption of food security indigenous crops such as yams, pumpkins, cassava, among others crops, to avoid food insecurity.

The Government also plans to reallocate and frontload funds from NAADs/Operation Wealth Creation amounting to sh26.63b, to avail quick-maturing food security planting materials such as maize, beans, cowpeas, cassava and banana suckers.

Government urged to act

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, gave the Government up to Wednesday next week to table before Parliament a comprehensive plan on food security. “It is three months now since this issue was raised. What you are telling us is for workshops, we need a comprehensive plan for the country,” Kadaga said.

The MPs also attacked the Government’s meteorological department for what they called continued inaccurate weather forecast, which mislead farmers.

“The department gives wrong predications all the time and people keep relying on them,” Gilbert Olanya, the MP Kilak County said.

Food insecurity explained

Charles Owor, a commissioner in charge of disaster preparedness in the Prime Minister’s Offi ce, said there are fi ve phases of food insecurity.

He said people who are food secure get three meals a day, including breakfast. When people get two meals that is referred to as minimal phase. With only one-and-a half meals, such people are in a stressed phase. A crisis phase sets in when people access only one meal a day. They will enter an emergency phase when they access only one meal in two days.

Famine starts biting when they are not sure of a meal in two days.

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