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World Food Programme (WFP) halts distribution of super cereal while tests continue (03.05.2019)

As suspicion fell on Super Cereal as a possible cause or carrier of contamination, WFP acted swiftly, halting all distributions of the food first in Karamoja and then across Uganda.

ROME, Italy, May 3, 2019 – As a precautionary measure, the World Food Programme (WFP) has temporarily halted distribution worldwide of a fortified blended food from one of its suppliers as tests continue to establish whether it is linked to outbreaks of illness in East Africa.

According to medical centres and hospital records, three people died and 293 were admitted to health centres in the Karamoja region of Northeast Uganda in March and April after eating Super Cereal, distributed by WFP. The product is used by WFP and partners to prevent malnutrition, especially among women and children.

Preliminary investigations have failed to conclusively find what caused the illness. To date, more than 2,400 food-related laboratory tests were conducted – including for mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides and microbial contaminants – but the root cause of the problem has not yet been established.

As suspicion fell on Super Cereal as a possible cause or carrier of contamination, WFP acted swiftly, halting all distributions of the food first in Karamoja and then across Uganda. Communications campaigns were launched to urge any people in Karamoja with remaining stocks to return them. These campaigns included using radio messages, focus group discussions, community dialogues and public discussions with elders and community leaders.

On 9 April, WFP halted the distribution globally of all products from the supplier in question. This involved putting on hold Super Cereal stocks in WFP operations in 25 countries.

In a further precautionary move, on 30 April, WFP ordered all stocks of Super Cereal from the same supplier should be secured in WFP warehouses and storage areas belonging to partners. Samples from the stock will continue to be tested to confirm or rule out any of the preliminary conclusions.

This issue is unprecedented in its implications for WFP’s global supply chain as the food supplies on hold around the world amount to over 21,000 metric tons, with an estimated replacement value of US$22 million. WFP has taken extensive preventative action as the health and safety of the people we serve is our foremost concern.

Super Cereal is maize or wheat blended with soya beans, fortified with vitamins and minerals, processed into a flour and supplied in 25-kg bags and is a critical part of WFP’s efforts to prevent malnutrition and save lives.

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Government of Uganda (GoU), World Food Programme (WFP) investigate Super Cereal issue in Karamoja (19.03.2019)

The Ministry of Health received an alert through its surveillance teams on the ground in Karamoja about suspected food poisoning and began investigations.

KAMPALA, Uganda, March 19, 2019 – The Government of Uganda and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are investigating whether there is a connection between recent illnesses reported in two districts in Karamoja and Super Cereal, a fortified blended food distributed by WFP for prevention of malnutrition.

On Tuesday, 12th, 2019, the Ministry of Health received an alert through its surveillance teams on the ground in Karamoja about suspected food poisoning and began investigations.

Some 262 people have been affected since 12 March with symptoms of mental confusion, vomiting, headache, high fever and abdominal pain. A total of 252 of those were discharged following successful treatment at health facilities in Amudat and Napak. No new admissions have been reported since Monday 18 March.

Seventy-seven of the 262 people were admitted in Alakas, Lokales and Karita health centres in Amudat district while 185 were admitted in Lotome, Lorengechora, Kangole and Apeitolim health centres and Matany Hospital in Napak district. The admissions took place between 12th and 16th of March.

There are unverified reports of three deaths, one of them at Matany Hospital, Napak District and other two in the communities. One male passed away in Lorengechora,Lookit village, Napak district and another female in Amuna village in Karita Sub County, Amudat district. All the deaths took place on 16th of March, 2019. The Government’s investigative team are in the communities to verify the two none facility deaths.

Samples of Super Cereal stocks and water were taken from the affected areas including blood, vomitus and urine from patients and are currently being analyzed at the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratory and the Central Public Health Laboratory. Food samples have been sent to a laboratory in Mombasa, Intertek Kenya LTD and another in Johannesburg Intertek Testing Services, S.A. LTD, for further analysis. Preliminary results of the Government investigation are expected in the next 24 hours. While results from abroad are expected within the next 5 to 7 days.

The Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Mr. John Byabagambi, the Director General of Health Services, Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the Country Director of WFP, Mr. El Khidir Daloum, and officials of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards visited the affected villages, in Amudat and Napak district on Monday 18 March, and spoke to the affected people and health workers. The team found that the problem remains localized in only two of the eight districts of Karamoja.

Investigating teams from the Ministry of Health and WFP food technologists remain on the ground carrying out surveillance and epidemiological mapping to establish the associated factors and possible causes of this recent illness.

On Friday 15 March, WFP, working with the Government, ordered the immediate suspension of Super Cereal distributions in Karamoja and the refugee hosting districts where it’s distributed. This is as a precautionary measure until investigations are concluded. WFP is working with district authorities to retrieve all Super Cereal stocks from health centres and communities.

An intensive communications campaign is ongoing, advising people not to consume SuperCereal until further notice. Communities have been advised to observe proper hygiene and sanitation, for example through handwashing with soap and drinking boiled water.

Working through Government health systems, WFP has provided Super Cereal in Uganda for more than 10 years. The current coverage of Super Cereal is at 252 locations in Karamoja in addition to many sites across the 13 refugee hosting districts. Refugees receive Super Cereal in the general food basket.

Super Cereal is also distributed in many countries and has a robust record of fighting malnutrition and protecting pregnant or nursing women against malnutrition during the first 1,000 days of their child’s life. Super Cereal undergoes all the verifications of quality control before being distributed. No previous complaints have been reported about the product in Uganda.

Super Cereal is a key component in WFP’s support to the Government’s nutrition programmes that aim to prevent stunting or life-threatening malnutrition.

The goal of The United Nations World Food Programme is saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP supports governments and works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

The Ministry of Health, Ministry of Karamoja affairs and WFP commit to conclude all investigations and share results with the public.

We appeal for calmness as investigations are going on and request the communities to report any suspected illness to the nearest health facility or call our toll free line 080010006.

WFP stops distributing blended food in Uganda as people fall sick in Karamoja (16.03.2019)

New Study Finds Worrying Climate Trend in Karamoja Over Last 35 Years (20.03.2017)

Released in Kampala today, the ‘Impacts of Climate Change on Food Security and Livelihoods in Karamoja’ found that temperatures have been rising in Karamoja over the last 35 years.

KAMPALA, Uganda, March 20, 2017 – A new study carried out by the Government of Uganda and its partners has found a new weather pattern that threatens to worsen food insecurity in the Karamoja region if no action is taken.

The study found that the average monthly rainfall in the region increased over the last 35 years and that the rainy season is now longer by two months. However, the rains – which now fall from around March to the end of the year – increasingly varied in volumes. This unpredictability was found to undermine agricultural production, thereby threatening to aggravate food insecurity in Karamoja.

Released in Kampala today, the ‘Impacts of Climate Change on Food Security and Livelihoods in Karamoja’ found that temperatures have been rising in Karamoja over the last 35 years.

The rising temperatures threaten to increase the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves in the region, therefore reducing availability of water for crops and animals. This too undermines food security.

A large majority of people in Karamoja, particularly women, were not aware that changes to the climate had been taking place over decades, the study states. However, most of the people that had perceived changes to the climate had not taken any action to adapt, typically because they did not know how to do so. Where trees were planted as an adaptation measure, the sale of charcoal and firewood were also a common measure that people took in response to climate-related crop failure.

Sponsored by the Swedish Government, the study was carried out in 2016 by the Ministry of Water and Environment with support from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the CGIAR Consortium’s Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.

The Uganda Minister for Water and Environment, Sam Cheptoris, said today, “These are significant findings that threaten any hope for Uganda achieving its Vision 2040 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), if no immediate action is taken.”

Cheptoris said that his Ministry was already calling for a national and regional response, advocating for climate change sensitive approaches across all Government sectors, educating the population about climate change, and undertaking emissions profiles.

“Karamoja’s population is heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture, which is highly vulnerable to climate change,” said El Khidir Daloum, WFP Country Director for Uganda. “However, little has been known previously about the impacts of climate change on food security, and in particular, the ability of households in the region to adapt.”

WFP hopes that the findings and recommendations of the study will contribute to efforts toward appropriate adaptation measures while helping to identify policies that will safeguard the most vulnerable communities in Karamoja.

The study recommended that the Government and its partners increase investments in water harvesting and agroforestry schemes, education of the people, improved access to climate change information and the cultivation of drought-resistant crop varieties.

Within the Ministry of Water and Environment, the study was carried out by the Climate Change Department and the Uganda National Meteorological Authority.

1.6 million People affected in hunger crisis and other growing issues in the agricultural sector in Uganda!

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The Republic of Uganda has certain areas that have been affected with the drought and the lacking rain, which has affected the yields and output of food. The areas that has been in dire straits since El-Nino is in Teso, Karamoja and West Nile; these areas are in different stages, but all as worrying as the 1.6 million people are in a crisis situation, while 26% of all population or 9.3 million people are in a stressed situation. Let’s take a deep breath and look at the numbers coming from the offices of Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda. That has delivered this numbers and they are worrying.

An estimated 1.6 million people (5% of the total population) are in Crisis situation. Those populations are found in Central 1 (0.58 million); Karamoja (0.12 million), Teso (0.2 million), East Central (0.38 million) and South Western (0.31 million) regions. This population has widening food consumption gaps with deteriorating dietary diversity and high malnutrition rates. They are found in Central 1 (0.58 million), Karamoja (0.12 million), Teso (0.2 million), East Central (0.38 million) and South Western (0.31 million) regions. The affected population includes the poorest households with poor food consumption score, low meal frequencies of up to 1 meal a day and low dietary diversity of less than 3 food groups. They have poor purchasing power as their incomes are low and no food stocks at household level. They are mainly coping through food assistance, remittances from relatives, begging, stealing food, wild food gathering and irreversible sale of productive assets to buy food. This population currently needs assistance to bridge the widening food consumption gaps and avert worsening malnutrition” (Office of the Prime Minister, 2017).

You can wonder what is the plan of the Republic when they know that the people have poor purchasing power, while the dwindling yields of the small-farming in these regions, doesn’t have the purchasing power of central regions. The trades and lacking production has equally hurt these citizens in Teso and Karamoja. Therefore the drought and lacking rain-fall has made the situation worse, as much as the rising refugee camps also getting aid and support from United Nation organization. While the republic have not galvanized agricultural structures and supported the citizens in dire need. This shows that the state has forgotten the reason for its existence. But there are more!

An estimated 9.3 million people (26% of the total population) are experiencing Stressed situation. Those populations are in East Central (1.88 million); South Western (1.24 million), Teso (1.1 million) and West Nile (1.04 million) regions. This population has minimum adequate food consumption, employing insurance strategies and are unable to afford some essential non-food expenditures. The prolonged dry spell due to La Nina phenomenon coupled with increasing incidences of crop and livestock pests and diseases such as Cassava Brown Streak, Cassava Mosaic, maize stalk borer, striga and Banana Bacterial Wilt grossly affected production reducing the availability and accessibility of food for this population. The low crop and livestock production negatively impacted household food stocks leading to increased reliance on markets for food. Increasing demand from external markets has induced food price increases, making it difficult for poor households to access food from the market. Deteriorating water and pasture conditions mainly in the cattle corridor have resulted in migrations of livestock keepers, reduction in livestock production and increased spread of livestock diseases. The over whelming influx of refugees from South Sudan has increased demand for food and services in West Nile region” (Office of the Prime Minister, 2017).

So it is bad that 1.6 million people are lacking resource, possibility to produce food, but also that the state doesn’t deliver help or aid to the people. The other numbers of affected people, shows even more the systematic defaults of the state to achieve good production of agricultural output, as the problems with crops, livestock and diseases that shown with Cassava Brown Strak, Cassava Mosaic, Maize Stalk Borer, Sriga and Banana Bacterial Wilt. All of these should be worked on and nourished by the state, through agricultural programs that stops the spread of diseases. This should be important at this stage by not only the Office of the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda. Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja should have used the institutions to find solutions to the added strains in the agricultural industries, together with one of his State Ministers.

That the Ministry of Agriculture and Hon. Ssempijja has been lacking guidance as well as funding, most been shown when the millions of affected citizens are the result of little or no plan on important industry as it is. Where so many work and could need state structures to help and guide. There are lacking instruments and use of government institutions to help out in the dire need. Even find out ways to stop the growing problems that makes such a big part of population affected. When a state has 26% of it affected by various issues and the State can find ways to sort it out, than that should be priority, not to buy airplanes and cut taxes for the MPs, but to fix the agricultural yields and water-irrigation that needs. Peace.

Reference:

A Publication of the Office of the Prime Minister – Department of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Management – “The Official Government of Uganda Inter- Ministerial/Agencies Monthly National Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning Bulletin

15th FEBRUARY to 15th MARCH 2017” Volume 01. Series No. 01. Issues No. 04.

Press Statement: NAADS, WFP to build grain stores to benefit 4,000 farming families in 10 districts of Uganda (17.05.2016)

NAADS

NEW YORK, United States of America, May 17, 2016The National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have signed an agreement to construct 10 community-level grain stores in 10 districts of Uganda over the next four months in an effort to address grain storage challenges nationally while enhancing small-scale farmers’ access to quality produce markets.

Under the agreement, NAADS will provide US$1 million for WFP to construct and equip the warehouses in the districts of Adjumani, Hoima, Kibaale, Kiboga, Kiryandongo, Kyenjojo, Masindi, Mubende, Nakaseke and Napak.  Each unit will have a storage capacity of between 200 and 300 metric tons and is expected to support up to 400 farming households.

“NAADS has been focusing on providing seeds, and this has helped to increase production country-wide,” the NAADS Executive Director, Dr. Samuel Mugasi said today. “However, this partnership with WFP will take us a step higher in the value chain. It will enable NAADS to achieve its purpose of assisting farmers to reduce post-harvest food losses – including through modern storage – benefit from group marketing and improve their household incomes and livelihoods.”

Mugasi said there was no better choice of partner than WFP. He said, “WFP has built a good reputation in grain handling, mobilizing farmers for production and supporting agriculture value chains. It has a good model in place, and we are excited to be part of it. Under the MoU, WFP and NAADS will also jointly support small-scale farmer groups with soft skills and other capacity building for group marketing.”

WFP’s Country Director, Michael Dunford, said WFP’s role in Uganda primarily is to support the vision of the government, working with capable entities such as NAADS and Operation Wealth Creation in building agricultural capacity.

“Good infrastructure empowers farmers to access markets, gives them control over when they get to sell their grain and, as such, protects them from hunger,” Dunford said.

NAADS and WFP plan to work together to build another 10 stores next year. WFP has already established 60 storage facilities countrywide – using mainly funding from the United States — and farmers trading through them have been selling their grain more profitably.

UN To Build The Resilience Of Communities In Karamoja (05.02.2016)

FAO Uganda Information Bulletin January 2014

FAO, UNICEF and WFP launch joint resilience strategy to improve well-being of Karimojong

KAMPALA Three United Nations agencies in Uganda are implementing a new multi-year resilience strategy to help transform the lives of vulnerable people in the Karamoja region of North Eastern Uganda.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are combining their efforts to empower households and communities and to strengthen government capacities. Together, they will work to enable the people of Karamoja to recover, reorganize themselves and move forward after experiencing external stresses and disturbances, including droughts or floods.

The Joint Resilience Strategy for Karamoja Region will focus on four areas: diversifying livelihood strategies and intensifying production in order to increase household income and improve food security; improving basic social services to strengthen vulnerable households’ human capital; establishing predictable safety nets; and strengthening disaster risk management support.

The FAO Country Representative, Mr. Alhaji Jallow, said, “This is an extremely significant development. It is a commitment to collaboration, efficiency and demonstration of results in Karamoja.”  Working collectively, he said, the agencies will multiply the impact of their work, reduce transaction costs for communities and the government, and allow individual organizations to more powerfully use their experience in strengthening service delivery systems.

Karamoja is vulnerable to multiple stresses and shocks, including climatic, economic, conflict and health-related challenges. According to the regional Resilience Analysis Unit, the main shocks and stresses for Karamoja include erratic and uneven rainfall, livestock disease outbreaks, crop pests, high food prices, food insecurity, livestock losses, inadequate access to education and health services, and inadequate access to water and sanitation.

The Country Representative of UNICEF, Ms. Aida Girma, said, “This collaboration will strengthen basic services for children and women that will increase their resilience to shocks and help to keep them alive, healthy, in school and protected.” She also said that building household resilience cannot be sustained unless the overall system to deliver the services is strengthened.

The acting WFP Country Director, Mr Michael Dunford, said, “While Karamoja continues to face significant socio-economic challenges, partly due to climate change, opportunities for development have never been more ripe. With increased security, reduced poverty levels and a renewed commitment by the government, partners can achieve more through enhanced collaboration.”

Each of the three agencies has more than 20 years’ experience working with communities in Karamoja. Together, they represent 90 percent of the United Nations’ activities in the region.

About FAO

FAO leads international efforts to defeat hunger. It helps countries to modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all. FAO focuses special attention on developing rural areas, home to 70 percent of the world’s poor and hungry people. For more information visit: www.fao.orgor follow FAO on Twitter @FAOnews

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org or follow UNICEF on Facebook and Twitter.

About WFP

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries. Follow WFP on Twitter @wfp_media @wfp_africa

Press Release: United States Contributes US$9 Million To WFP To Support Refugees In Uganda (06.10.2015)

Nyakabande TC

KAMPALA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a contribution of US$9 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide food assistance for more than 320,000 refugees living in Uganda.

“This generous contribution has arrived just in time, as a funding shortfall was threatening to force WFP to reduce rations for refugees, including the new South Sudanese arrivals,” said acting Country Director Michael Dunford. “Those cuts will not be necessary now, and we are extremely grateful to USAID for its lifesaving support for people fleeing conflict in neighbouring countries and seeking refuge in Uganda.”

Dunford said WFP will use the funding, received through USAID’s Office of Food for Peace, to purchase more than 13,000 metric tons of cereals and beans within Uganda for more than 300,000 refugees.

The support will also allow WFP to provide cash to 20,000 refugees in areas where markets are able to meet the demand. As well as meeting the immediate food needs of refugees, cash assistance has the added benefit of allowing some flexibility for the refugees to buy nutritious foods that may not be part of WFP’s food basket and to manage their household food resources themselves.

This contribution brings USAID’s 2015 WFP support to refugees in Uganda and extremely vulnerable populations in Karamoja to an estimated US$26 million.

Uganda currently hosts more than 490,000 refugees, mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and Burundi. Roughly two-thirds of the refugees in Uganda depend on WFP to meet their basic food needs.

WFP’s assistance for refugees is closely coordinated with the Government of Uganda through the Office of the Prime Minister, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and NGOs.

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