Famine in Karamoja, Uganda

Famine in Karamoja, Uganda

The drought situation remains of concern across East Africa. However, in
Karamoja it is critical. We were very much relieved in late May when the
rains finally started in Karamoja after a waiting for long. The people
started cultivating and planting. The once brown parched bare land
started turning green and the people were once again happy that they
could get some green leaves for vegetables to supplement their meagre
diet.

Unfortunately, the rain so far has been very little. The crops are wilting
and dying off. The general weather condition is not promising. The high
wind normally associated with the dry season is blowing. The water table
is going low hence more boreholes which are the only source of clean
water are running dry and causing serious water shortage. The wild
animals from the nearby Kidepo National Park are now wandering far
outside the park, doing a lot of damage to the little crops that are
growing. The people are restless and worried. The elders are once again
resorting to seeking divine intervention. They are offering sacrifices to the
gods but nothing seems to change.

In the mission there are always people coming to seek food relief.
Unfortunately, we cannot give to all people. We restrict our food
distribution to the helpless elderly people, the sickly people, and
malnourished children. However, other people are not doing well either.
A poor lady who did not qualify as a beneficiary of the food relief narrated
to me that in the villages they only eat once in the evening. They mainly
eat green vegetables that they pick from their gardens or from the trees.
When they have money they buy some maize flour and beans.

People get money through selling firewood or charcoal. During this time of
cultivation a number of young people are hired to cultivate the farms of
those who are well off. As hired labour they are paid UGX 2000/= per
day. Another source of income is fetching water for employed people like
the nurses, teachers, police and social workers. In this job they are paid
between UGX 200/= or 300/= per 20 litre of container of water.

During this month the government have come in with some relief food.
However, their food could not serve everybody. They served ten people
per village with the food ration maize flour only. They gave the
beneficiaries 25 kg each. The World Food Programme have also been
distributing some food relief to a restricted number of people. They are
also supplying food to the health centres for the malnourished children.
We are grateful for the help we are getting from SPICMA.

Fr. Sylvester Odhiambo mhm

Source: SPICMA

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