Uganda: FEWS NET projected food security levels as stressed in the Greater Northern Region and a crisis in Karamoja

Staple food prices have continued to increase in recent months and are higher than prices recorded last year and five-year average levels across most of Uganda. Prices of staple sorghum and maize are now significantly above average in several key reference markets across the country. In Karamoja, terms of trade for sorghum against firewood, charcoal, and goats are below average and worse than last year, significantly restricting food access for poor households. After the first season bimodal harvest in June/July, food prices are expected to decline but are now expected to remain above average given expectations for below-average production, increased net exports, and impacts of the war in Ukraine on global supply chains and prices” (FEWS NET, 06.05.2022).

The Cassava Republic is getting hit hard by not only the rising commodity prices, but the weather. The agricultural production will be slowed down and that will hurt the farmers of the regions in the Northern Uganda and in the Karamoja sub-region. That is very evident and FEWS NET together with the World Food Programme is clearly having an oversight here. This here should worry the state, as it has targeted and had a military operation in Karamoja. Which is not mentioned here, but the burning region of Karamoja isn’t having a better times ahead of it. To the contrary things are only getting worse.

The Cassava Republic is also hit with an impactful war, which is not only hitting the exports of wheat, but in general. That’s why prices of commodities will go up and has gone up over the last year. Things are not getting better there either. Just read the quote below, which is a continuation of the first quote from FEWS NET on the matter.

In general, prices of food and non-food commodities have increased notably since late 2021. The main driving factors include rising transportation costs due to increasing fuel prices, seasonally declining market stocks, and reduced production prospects from the upcoming first season harvest following below average rainfall. More recently, impacts of the Russia-Ukraine crisis have driven further fuel price increases and increased the rate of general inflation of food and non-food commodities, further reducing household purchasing power. In March, retail prices of maize grain and sorghum increased farther above five-year average levels. Retail prices of beans and cassava generally remained below average in March, though prices of beans increased by 9-20 percent across monitored markets from February to March” (FEWS NET, 06.05.2022).

Here is the worrying statement:

However, rising food prices will likely result in some higher selling prices for famers, increasing access to income for those with near average production. For pastoralist households, pasture and water availability is expected to improve in May given the forecast of above-average rainfall. Overall, most households in bimodal areas are expected to access sufficient food and income to meet their essential food and non-food needs, with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes expected to persist at the area level throughout the projection period. However, given revised expectations for a third consecutive below-average production season as well as rising prices of food and non-food commodities including fuel, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are now expected to persist throughout much of northern Uganda for the majority of the projection period. In Karamoja, availability of food and income is expected to remain seasonally limited as the lean season progresses. Given delays in the agricultural season, the lean season is now expected to last through July, longer than usual by about three weeks. During this time, insecurity is likely to continue constraining limiting income-earning, including from livestock production and sales. When schools reopen for the new term in early May, households will likely experience some improved food consumption due to WFP’s food and nutrition programming for school children, including school meals, take-home rations, and supplementary food for households with malnourished children. However, food prices are expected to continue increasing through around June until the harvest from bimodal areas begins to boost market supplies, with an increasing number of poor households likely to face consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes during this time. Though some seasonal price declines are expected following this, prices are expected to remain above average. 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 are seeing changes and the next coming months will be impactful to say the least. As the farmers and everyone else will struggle. There will be lack of food and a distress in some parts of the Republic, but it can become really dire in Karamoja. The Karamoja where the army has attacked, burned villages and gone after the citizens. That’s where things are getting worse and where they will have a terrible food insecurity to the levels of crisis. They can possibly get into Emergency, which should worry anyone. This just really speaks of how the state is failing its citizens and things are not getting any better.

The state should act upon this and think of safeguards. Nevertheless, don’t think they will. They rather send more soldiers and have more birthday bashes for Muhoozi. Than being concerned with the lack of food or ability to plough their fields. No, the state is more busy scheming and enterprising for their own. That’s why this sort of news needs to be spread. Because, the citizens of Karamoja and the Greater North will be hurt by this. That is the message from FEWS NET and it should be heard. Peace.

Opinion: Karamoja is burning over mineral explorations…

A total of 17,083 square kilometers of land in Karamoja is licensed for mineral exploration and extraction activities, according to official data. Twenty-six companies currently have exploratory or mining rights in the region. In 2018, Chinese mining company Sunbelt was given 3.3 square kilometers of land to set up a $13 million dollar marble mining factory in Rupa sub-county. A year later, the company expanded its operations to cover an additional 4.1 square kilometers, ostensibly after a deal with local leaders. Hundreds of families have since been pushed out of their ancestral homes, local officials say. Locals accuse Rupa Community development trust, a community trustee group created three years ago, of conniving with investors to steal their land” (Diana Taremwa Karakire – ‘Mining Rush Threatens Indigenous Peoples in Karamoja, Uganda’ 01.09.2021).

What I feared the most seems to be reason for the joint operation of the Uganda Police Force (UPF) and Uganda People’s Defence Force (UDPF) in the Karamoja sub-region. Which is an continues operation and it is persisting. The state is even furthering it’s investments into it by deploying 6,000 Local Defence Units or LDUs in Karamjoa. Therefore, the burning and bleeding will persist for a long time.

The lack of accountability and transparency is very clear. The obvious reasons for that is the licensed land and territories given to mineral extraction corporation over the indigenous people. The people and the citizens are neglected. They are perpetrators and the unlawful one in the mind of the state, but not by their rights as people.

The Government and the Authorities are coming in as a colonial government. They are occupying and violently removing people. The state is blaming the cattle rustling, but it is obviously more too it. Because, it is not like the government would create so much and damage over some livestock. However, it would do so over the mineral extraction and possible gold-rush in Karamoja.

We know they have given this state operation the name of “Usalama Kwa Wote” to disarm and take away illegal guns, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it was an alternate motive. A cash enterprise and a possible profit objective of the state. As they know the values of the land and what it possesses. When knowing that… they might find it easier to scare people away and not take ownership of land. Make them displaced and ensure their fear to return. As the mineral exploration and exploitation can start. In such a manner, that the government and the companies can start their trading.

The unfortunate families, villages and the Karimojong is just dying. While they are defending their land and we don’t have any idea about the amount of fatalities. As the GoU, the State House and UPDF doesn’t release any sort of update on their Joint Operation there. Only in the beginning and stopped when the public outcry ceased to exist.

The Karamoja sub-region continues to burn, be looted and is destroyed by government entities. While they are blaming old cultural factors and blaming the herders. That just shows their sinister motives. Because, we are not supposed to know about the vast licensing agreements and the planned mineral exploitation, which has been sanctioned without the concern of the locals or the Karimojong in general. They just have to accept the loss of land, livelihood and where they have lived for generations.

Because, that is the “steady progress” and “securing your future” means for Karamoja these days. The state don’t mind violating or destroying, as long as it has a prosperous future ahead of it. Peace.

Opinion: Karamoja is bleeding and nothing is being done…

The Karamoja Sub-Region has been burning and bleeding of late. This has been as a result of the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Force and Uganda Police Force, which are doing a joint-operation to stop cattle-rustlers, but clearly acting out of their means. As the 7 Karamoja districts are hurt as a result.

These districts are Kaabong, Kotido, Abim, Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, and Amudat. All of them are touched by the state sponsored violence and savage killings. People are becoming internally displaced. Houses are being burnt and people are forced to flee. The amount of fatalities are unknown, as the UPDF have only dropped one update and the numbers from there is certainly an understatement.

The Joint Mission Update was what the authorities had done between 19th and 29th March and we are now on the 3rd April and the violence is still occurring at an uncertain rate. The verified 309 people must have add-ons as people are seeking shelters in mosques and elsewhere. Karimojong are really under fire here.

There are even a viral video clip of some soldiers in Abim district who killed an alleged cattle-rustler and burned the remains. While showing the skull in one of the hands of the soldiers as the burning fire of the remains was continuing in the back. That sort of video clip is haunting and show what sort of sinister acts that is going on.

We know that Commander of Land Forces Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerubaga has promised them “hell” and his serving that on a plate. They don’t need to wait for the after-life to be in danger or meet the devil. The forces of Muhoozi is the agents of the Hell is already there and to get away from them would be like heaven.

As before in the month. There been speculations of mineral resources, findings of petrol and wider implications of foreign investors possible getting viable land. If not there is also reports of possible heists of livestock and thieving cows from the sub-region. As well, there is also reports of poisoning of goats there.

Whatever the reasons why it’s happening now. The citizens and the ones that dies… it happens without due process and without the courts of justice. The civilians are guilty before proven innocent in Karamoja right now. This is injustice and extra judicial killings. With the murder of over 300 people. Some might easily say massacres is going on and we don’t know to what extent. Since there is little to none reporting on the actual actions going on. The fatalities is therefore totally hidden and the bloodshed is happening in darkness.

The justification for the amount of death and it’s scale should be really crucial. As these amounts of deaths would be close to war or skirmishes between enemies of a civil-war. Alas, the state is behind a huge operation, which is causing harm that will linger on in the sub-region for decades. The fatalities and the insecurity isn’t becoming better, but worse. The devastating results will linger on and the damage cannot be mended. The souls taken and the land scorned will not be viable quickly. The needs for dialogue and peace. There isn’t a need for war or more guns. It is only causing more fatalities and more death.

That seems to be the devil in Muhoozi. He comes with death and thrives on the burning region of Karamoja. That’s the devil in the details… and how it can be perceived. Peace.

The Parliament of Uganda: Press Statement on the deteriorating security situation in Karamoja (31.03.2022)

Karamoja: The Karamoja sub-region is burning and bleeding in silence…

The 1966 District Annual Report concluded on a note of surrender to circumstances; “All of us would like to see Karamoja developed as fast as possible so as to catch up with the rest of Uganda but the major problem is how to do it” (Wozei 1977; 218)

The Police Anti Stock Theft Unit (ASTU) command in Karamoja has urged its officers to express discipline and observe human rights in the course of carrying out their duties” (97.8 Kazo FM Omushomesa, 31.03.2022).

There are unverified reports that over 309 Karimojong have been killed and we are still counting. That is only the first estimates after the reported Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) operation in the region.

The Karamjoa sub-region is now hit with state-sanctioned violence. The sub-region has 17 MPs and one State Minster for Region Agnes Nandutu who are clearly not stopping the massacre and killings of the state. Which is killing people without trial or due process. They are just turning up and killing them. Just like it is reports of poisoning of goats and such too. We have also seen pictures of burning houses too. So, everything is done to target and hurt the Karimojong.

We know that Commander of Land Forces Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerubaga has been proud of the operation and what has been happening. He has been the voice of the government that has delivered this terror to the Sub-Region. It is not like this is his first doing this or such. He participated with the Special Forces Command (SFC) in Kasese in 2016. So, this man knows blood and bloodshed.

Some are claiming this operation is happening because of either gold or petroleum, which is found in the region. The government wants to disarm the cattle-keepers and take their lands. In a manner of which they are disarmed and cannot defend their land. Therefore, this could be a ploy to take valuable land with mineral resources, which is to be given to foreign investors. This is why the authorities and army is attacking the region with such brazen means.

So, if things are so, it shouldn’t shock anyone that the state and the leaders are willing to do this. They have used vicious means in Amuru and with Apaa land to other investors there. Therefore, the UPDF could serve a favour to some oil companies or other sort of mineral extraction company, which has gotten a go from the State House. However, that is yet to be proven.

Nevertheless, this wouldn’t shock anyone and we have seen the state act out before to prove a point and get their way. This is killings without justifications and done without legal precedence. It is only done to silence and extra judicial kill the ones who defy the state. Therefore, this is showing a dangerous means to an end. We don’t even know the possible amount of fatalities, as we have only the UPDF numbers from 29th March 2022.

This is showing what the GoU is willing to do to it’s own citizens and there is no way they can defend this. This is extra judicial killings on a massive scale. People should be warned and the plights of Karamjo can easily come closer to home. The November 2020 killings in Kampala by the UPDF says it all. Everyone can be touched and lose their lives. If the state isn’t getting their way. Peace.

Update on Food Poisoning Investigations in Karamoja Region (27.05.2019)

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.

Operation Wealth Creation Handles No Procurement, No Money (26.03.2019)

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)

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