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Early Warning System Predicts Less Hunger In Uganda’s Karamoga Region

An organization that predicts famines says it expects a reduction in the number of Ugandans facing extreme hunger.The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) says the number will likely fall from 2.11 million to 1.38 million between now and December, as harvests improve.

But it will take several productive seasons before the affected districts become food secure, according to FEWSNET.The network, funded by the United States, says the situation is especially serious in the dry northeastern Karamoja region.

It hasn’t had much rain since May 2009, says Narman Ojwe, the resident district commissioner of Moroto District in Karamoja.He described the (food insecurity) situation as bad.

“Even the government’s attempts to launch a food production campaign, where households in the region were provided with farm inputs such as hoes, tractors and even seeds, didn’t help.”

All the crops dried at “knee level. So there was no harvest registered at all,” he said.

“As we talk it is raining, he said. “ These are the first rains and even if they continue it will not be of any productive use.”

The region is fertile but the lack of water is a problem, Ojwe noted.

“What we need is improved technology and irrigation but those are expensive and may not be realized in the short run.”

If the region is faced with the same problem next year during the planting period (March – May), he cautioned, the [food insecurity] situation will not change.

“Our prayer is to have rain next planting season so that people can plant their own crops.

“The people here are agro-pastoralist and government policy now is to provide small dams in every parish and bigger ones in every sub-county,” he said. There are 41 sub-counties in Karamoja region.

The Ugandan government has already procured equipment for opening up the dams, says Ojwe.

They “will at least help provide water to the animals. And the animal products, such as milk and meat, will supplement or contribute to food security.”

He praised the World Food Program (WFP) for feeding the people in the region. “They distribute the food according to the number of people in a household.”

There was a minor problem of registering people and tracing them in the computer distribution list, he said, attributing the difficulty to human mobility. The problem has now been rectified, he added.

The government and development partners such as the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) are also helping farmers in some parts of the region, where there is enough water, by proving seeds, tractors and fuel, and hand hoes to every household, said Ojwe.

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