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Nodding Syndrome Victims Join Atiak Sugar Project

Ceaser Okot, the Manager Hope for Humans explains that as out growers, the victims will benefit from a government grant of 26 billion Shillings being extended to out growers registered under the project.
A Nodding Syndrome Victim at The Treatment and Rehabilitation Center Operated By Hope For Humans in Omoro District

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Victims of Nodding Syndrome from 80 households in Acholi Sub region are taking part in sugarcane growing in Atiak Sub County in Amuru district.

They were selected from among 875 most vulnerable households in the region where they are struggling to regain self-reliance after many years of battling the strange disease.

The households are benefiting from Hope for Humans, a charity organization treating, rehabilitating and supporting victims of the mysterious debilitating neurological disease in the region. The health condition which impairs the growth and cognitive abilities of its victims has no known cure. It has affected more than 2000 children since it was first reported in the region in 2009.

Ceaser Okot, the Manager Hope for Humans says they hope introducing the victims to Atiak Sugar project will empower them to economically tackle challenges of poverty hindering them from accessing proper medical care, education and better livelihoods.

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Okot explains that as out growers, the victims will benefit from a government grant of 26 billion Shillings being extended to out growers registered under the project. He says 40 households were drawn from Omoro district where the charity has the biggest treatment and rehabilitation center, 20 came from Labongo Amida Sub County in Kitgum district and another 20 from Pader district.

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During seasons of intensive farm work, the victims will converge in shelters erected for them at Atiak Sugar Works in Pachilo where they will spend time working on their plantation.

The nodding syndrome treatment and rehabilitation center survived being closed at the end of July due to funding shortfall after its only donor threatened to pull out. Okot says the donor has given the center up to end of this year to secure alternative sources of funding. 

Santa Joyce Laker, the Leader of Atiak Sugar Plantation Out grower Cooperative Society Limited says victims of nodding syndrome are not the only interest groups taking part in the sugar project. The others are former sex workers and former abductees of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

According to Laker, Atiak sugar has allocated up to 7,000 hectares of land for out growers in the sub region.

Atiak Sugar Project is a subsidiary of Horyal Investments Holding Company Limited in Gem Village in Pachilo Parish, Atiak Sub County in Amuru district. The Sugar mill is being set up on approximately 7,000 hectares of nucleus and 14,000 hectares of out growers.

Dr Amina Moghe Hersi, a Kenyan Sugar mogul says when commissioned, the Mill will crush a nominal capacity of 1,650 tons of cane daily. At full capacity she says the plant will produce 1.4 metric tons of sugar per annum.

In addition to Sugar, ethanol and molasses, the sugar industry will generate 12 megawatts of electricity from bagasse for lighting up the rural area, located 450KM North of Kampala.