Karamoja: The sub-region is starving on empty promises…

Museveni promised that food insecurity in Karamoja would be dealt with by increasing fast maturing seedlings and an increase in relief by the Office of the Prime Minister. In a bid to build a self-sustaining household plan, the MPs proposed that the government avails agricultural inputs such as two tractors per constituency to facilitate agriculture on a large scale. The President however, disagreed with them saying that two tractors per constituency cannot support commercial agriculture. Museveni proposed that 5 tractors per constituency would be more plausible. He further challenged MPs to engage in large scale farming if they are to empower their communities and drive the country into middle income status. He promised to bring in experts to share in their best practices so that the members would get first hand information from them” (President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday evening held a special meeting with MPs-elect from Northern and Karamoja region to discuss pertinent issues affecting social and economic transformation, 20.04.2021).

The Government has a Minister designated for Karamoja affairs and has around 17 MPs from the Karamoja Sub-Region. However, all of these representatives and people being in high office isn’t delivering anything.

The news of starvation and famine shouldn’t shock anyone. The warnings from FEWSNET and other monitoring bodies like FAO has stated this too. The President has called the Karamoja green and pleasant. Nevertheless, that is far from the truth.

We know that the army, the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) have been operating and causing friction. As it is extra judicial killing and kicking people out of their homes. They are deliberately evicting and making people into internally displaced people. So, that the places of which they are burning villages and killing civilians. Is scaring the farmers and the people tending the land from cultivating food. This is done under the banner of “Usalalama Kwa Wote” to stop cattle-rustlers but also ensure the territories of mineral riches gets to the right “investor”. Therefore, this insecurity with the forewarned lack of food security was doomed to cause havoc on the sub-region.

Karamoja has been bleeding and suffering as a consequence of the military actions. The Sub-Region hasn’t been invested in. There has been creations of districts and electoral gerrymandering. However, there is only one referral hospital in Moroto. There is no real changes and the UN organizations comes in with aide and salvation every time things are dire. The President and his government isn’t clearly invested or concerned about the starvation or hunger in Karamoja. If the state did… they have seen this issue returning again and again. People are dying and the local government bodies should do better. The Office of the Prime Minister and the State Minister for Karamoja Affairs lack funds or mental minds to put programs that can save lives. Since this is a reoccurring event. That’s what is tragic here…

What is tragic is that the hunger and starvation was warned by FEWSNET in April this year. Which stated this: “For many poor Karamoja households, below-average purchasing power will continue constraining access to food from market purchases. Around August/September, the start of harvesting in Karamoja is expected to support improved access to food from own consumption and income from crop sales and reduce the number of households facing consumption gaps, though Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist at the area level even during the post-harvest period. Overall, widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are now expected to persist through at least September, with worst-affected households facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes” (FEWS NET, 06.04.2022).

We can sadly assess that the warnings of a IPC Phase 4 is now happening. The President promised already last year to secure food security for Karamoja sub-region. However, we easily that never happened. Now the World Food Programme and others has to cover the basics. They have to come with the food and the aide, because the state is a shortfall. Neither does it have the organization or institutions in order to help. The state has the army and the ability to kill civilians. However, it doesn’t have the ability to save lives or ensure food security. That is clear for anyone and is a sign of what is a priority in Kampala. As the Karamjoa sub-region isn’t only bleeding now, but starving as well. Peace.

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