The European Union –EU delegation to Uganda has
launched a 16.69 billion Shillings Pro-Resilience Action project (Pro-ACT)
aimed at helping the Karamoja region to respond to food shocks. Nine EU ambassadors led by the Head of Delegation,
Attilio Pacifici launched the project on Wednesday in Nakapelimoru Sub-County,
The project seeks to strengthen food shock response
systems in all the nine districts of Karamoja through early warning on weather
patterns and assistance that enables households to take action to reduce their
risk. The contingency plans will be developed by the District Disaster
Under the project, the EU is collaborating with the World
Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the
Office of the Prime Minister as implementing partners to ensure that Karamoja
effectively responds to food challenges.
According to the EU, the project is aimed at improving
the capacity of local and national stakeholders to share timely and accurate information
that can be utilized to prepare for and manage food shocks. This will help
households to act in anticipation of and benefit from early response to food
Ambassador Pacifici, the EU Head of Delegation says
that the project will help government and partners to use evidence in order to
inform policy and support the creation of sustainable systems and policies for
“Disasters are putting immense pressure on social and
human development, with Uganda being categorized as one of the most vulnerable
countries ranking 14th among the vulnerable and 48th
least ready country to respond particularly to hydro-metrological hazards.
Uganda’s economic and human development is closely tied to many
climate-sensitive resources and sectors such as agriculture, water,
environment, tourism, natural resources, health, transport and housing,” he
Pacifici says that Karamoja is vulnerable and suffers
high levels of food and nutrition insecurity, noting that in 2019, the region
endured the most intense drought with almost 40 per cent of its population facing
acute food insecurity. He adds that recent data under the Karamoja Acute Food
Insecurity and Acute Malnutrition Situation study carried out from January to
August 2021 shows that this year, 30 per cent of Karamojongs are currently
facing acute food insecurity and are in urgent need of action.
He adds that the situation was unfortunately recently
exacerbated by various factors such as the desert locusts, Covid-19
restrictions and increased levels of insecurity since late 2019 including loss
of animals, limited access to farmland and limited engagement in other income
sources” adds Pacifici.
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Pacifici says that this new project will be on top on
availing accurate data to prepare and manage food shocks, contribute to ongoing
policy dialogue on Disaster Risk Financing and the Disaster Risk Management
Paul Komol Lotee, the Kotido District Chairperson
says that the project is key since they need urgent support in regard to preparing
and responding to food security shocks such as drought.
“Our people are suffering because there was no rain,
the crops failed, and they do not know what to do. This happens every lean
season. Yet, we are never prepared. We need to give people timely and accurate
information and improve their capacity to prepare for shocks,” he says.
The lean season is the period between planting and
harvest, usually occurring from March to July, when there is little food and
minimal rainfall. The 2021 WFP, FAO, and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal
Industry and Fisheries Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)
analysis shows that this lean season is worse than that of last year. A total
of 361,000 people in Karamoja, 30 per cent of the population, faced high levels
of food insecurity between March and July this year.
Komol emphasizes that Karamoja needs special attention
and appealed for more support in areas of food security, health, education and
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Priya Gujadhur, the FAO Deputy Representative in
Uganda reveals that they have already piloted a drought early warning system to
improve community preparation for the lean season and other cyclic shocks that
affect food security. She says that timely predictions and early warnings
are of the essence and that early identification of risks linked to clear action
will reduce the impact of food security shocks.
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As part of the project, the EU is contributing to
WFP’s lean season response by providing a protective ration which is assistance
that will help reduce the likelihood of sharing specialized nutritious food
that is meant for the treatment of malnutrition in children under five and pregnant
and breastfeeding women.
“WFP is providing assistance to only a fraction of the
people who need it in Karamoja. The frequency and severity of natural hazards
in Uganda is only going to get worse with climate change and the number of
people in need will grow. We must be smarter in the way we respond to shocks,”
says Ryan Anderson, the WFP Deputy Country Director.
Anderson adds that zero hunger is possible only if
communities have the right tools to manage shocks.
Esther Anyakun, the Minister of State for Relief, Disaster
Preparedness and Refugees says that the government is committed to ensuring
everyone in Uganda, including Karamoja, has enough nutritious food and that
they are determined to reach the most vulnerable. She says that people need simple weather information
that they can understand and act upon with sustainable solutions.
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Karamoja has consistently had the lowest development
indicators in the country. At 66 per cent, the region’s poverty rate is three
times the national poverty rate of 20 per cent and more than 30 times that of
Kampala, the capital of Uganda, which stands at two per cent. A WFP and FAO historical drought analysis shows that
Karamoja has a 30 per cent chance of experiencing a drought or dry spell in any
given year, the highest in the country.