As world leaders gathered in New York to sign off new Development Goals, a heart-wrenching photo was circulating amongst Ugandans on Twitter.
The photo was that of a woman kneeling beside open grave in which a dead child lay. The child had apparently died of hunger and according to a report by KFM Radio in Uganda; this was not an isolated case.
The death toll from the hunger in Karamoja region has now hit 28. The hunger first claimed 11 lives in the two areas of Kambisi and Campswahili in Moroto Municipality. The area LC1 chairperson of Kambisi village in Nadunget sub county Hajji Pamita said the hunger has left people grounded in their houses. In Campswahiliin Moroto Municipality 5 people died of hunger in just two weeks. The LCV chairperson of Napak district Joseph Lomonyang says immediate intervention is needed before more lives are lost. In Kaabong district 2 people also died in a period of two weeks.while many others are grounded. The State Minister for disaster and preparedness Musa Ecweru when contacted acknowledged there is hunger in Karamoja saying government was working had to send food to the region.
This situation is wrong at so many levels:
Uganda already produces enough food to feed its population of over 33 Million. Granted most of this food is Central, West and SW Uganda but the question as to why this food isn’t getting to Karamoja is pertinent.
The region has it’s own Minister who happens to be the wife of Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni. Addressing the Ugandan Diaspora in the UK, Mrs. Janet Museveni reported that great strides had been made to ensure Karamoja was food secure.
She reported that Karamoja had benefited from inward investment and as such Karamoja was a place of hope. Dependence on food aid has reduced by an impressive 70%. This statistic was eye watering. Karamoja has been at the receiving end of food aid since 1963. The shortage of food in this region was so bad people had taken to eating old animal hides.
This reduction in Food dependence the region was on course to meet Goal 7 to eradicate extreme hunger and end poverty under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)
According to Mrs Museveni, this turn around in fortune had been made possible with the introduction of farming technology. The outcomes were that most folks were able to grow their own food and had settled accommodation.
But she cautioned that there was still a lot of work to do ensure the country converges with the rest of the country on issues such as food security, human development etc.
Under the new Sustainable Development Goals, Goal 2 promises to end hunger and food insecurity. 2.1 : By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round
This is a good target to have with respect to the situation in Karamoja, but sadly it does not take into account systemic deficiencies. It is my opinion that until these deficiencies are addressed people in regions such as Karamoja will sadly continue to die of starvation.
Should we continue to go on Campaigns like Enough Food IF and issue new development goals every 15 years whilst people continue to die of starvation?
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