During the monitoring visit by the Kotido district leaders, they found out that some parents are intentionally starving their children so that they remain malnourished and continue benefiting from food and cash.
‘’We lost people to hunger in big numbers. The report from Kotido District indicates that 1680 people died of hunger. During our pastoral work to the manyattas, we find children so malnourished, people very hungry, very thin and others dying in their houses and compounds,” Bishop Nasak said.
Since its inception in 2018, the sub-county which had been claimed by both Kotido and Abim districts has had no single school, or health unit, with only a few water sources sometimes shared with animals.
Thousands of people in Karamoja, one of Uganda’s poorest regions, are starving as a result of prolonged drought, the increase of insecurity and its associated protection risks, as well as large-scale structural and chronic vulnerabilities.
Daniel Lotyang, a youth representative in Longaroi sub-county said the dispute started when councillors started moving around villages to assess the hunger situation and lobbying support from well-wishers. But the sub-county chief objected to their approach saying that it was undermining his office.
Research shows that most of the households in the region have depleted their essential livelihood assets, including consuming seed stocks to cope with the situation partly brought about by the erratic effects of a changing climate. Children in the region are malnourished and many, on a daily basis are succumbing to starvation.
John Bosco Akore, the secretary of Kotido Elders council says the most effective way to distribute relief is to give households cash so that they can plan and spend on what fits them as far as food is concerned.
Each beneficiary recieved 10 kgs of posho and beans. Margy Lowanyang, 30, a family head and resident of Rupa sub-county, says that she has resumed ARV treatment after getting food that will help boost her immune system.
Paul Komol Lotee, the LC V chairperson of Kotido district, says that people are still struggling to find food and asks the government to expedite the procurement process because they have continued registering deaths resulting from hunger.
Lokeris Nakwang, a resident of Atedeoi village in Lotisan sub-county, says that hunger has forced them to start boiling hides for food. She says that they have eaten all sorts of wild green vegetables and the only edible items they are left with in the house are skins and hides.
Maria Naduk, who lost her child said it was very difficult to tell whether it was the wild cassava causing the death or hunger because people were dying even before they ate the wild plant. Naduk blamed the loss of lives on the hunger crisis that has forced people to chew whatever they think can help them gain energy.
Mary Nakiru, a 13 years old female from Loputuk village said they struggle to burn charcoal or collect firewood depending on what’s in high demand and they take to a town that is about 10 kilometers away from the village to go for an exchange to get local brew residues as food.
John Bosco Akore, the secretary Kotido Elder’s Council told URN that the severe shortage of food has led to widespread malnutrition, which caused the death of 58 children and elderly people between May and June this year.
Joseph Abura, the Bishop of the Anglican Karamoja Diocese attributes the high rates of domestic violence and crimes to overdrinking. He says that many parents have abandoned their families and resorted to drinking.
Nsubuga said much as the hospital is receiving some support from the government, it’s too little considering the overwhelming number of patients ferried to the hospital from different regions of Karamoja, Teso, Bugisu, Sebei, some parts of Kenya, and South Sudan.
Perepetua Iwokot, a farmer in Loteruo village in Sidok sub county said that the animals most especially elephants are straying into the gardens bordering the game reserve searching for food have been damaging crops for the past three months.