KAMPALA — The sub-Saharan African nation of Uganda has historically seen slow economic growth. There has been a near-constant influx of refugees from bordering nations such as South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Political strife with opposition group the Lords Resistant Army has further destabilized the country. Hunger in Uganda is a direct product of nations history.
Karamoja, the northern region of Uganda, has been particularly affected by underdevelopment, high poverty rates and severe droughts. According to Action Against Hunger, it is currently witnessing “chronic food insecurity” after three consecutive years of drought that affected crop yield and created a lack of food.
In 2016, Uganda was affected by a dry spell which left 1.3 million people without basic food requirements nationwide. Instigated by unprecedented low rain levels, the drought left 65 percent of Karamoja with at most one meal a day.
Twenty percent of Ugandans are below the poverty line. High food prices and unfavorable farming conditions make it hard for people to produce enough food to sustain their families, let alone earn a stable income. Hunger in Uganda is particularly prevalent in children under five; 33 percent face the harsh reality of chronic undernourishment, which positively correlates with the 27 percent rate of stunted growth.
Hunger in Uganda is exacerbated by the nominal productivity of small-scale farmers, a group that encompasses a substantial segment of Uganda’s population. Negligent storage practices leave crops vulnerable to pests, moisture and mold. Small-scale farmers are left averaging a colossal 30 percent loss because of these factors.
Uganda, however, has hope for a brighter future because of nonprofit organizations that strive to address extreme poverty and hunger in the nation. Two such organizations are Action Against Hunger and the World Food Programme.
After entering Uganda in 1980, Action Against Hunger has created five targeted districts in which it has positively touched. It provides traumatized and displaced women with cash to purchase food. To help secure a stable future for these women, it provides lessons in professional development for women who hope to obtain a job to support their families.
Similarly, the World Food Programme provides support for women, children and farmers. In the Karamoja region, the organization’s focus is on the nutrition of nursing women and school children. It delivers foods with high nutritional value to nursing women to supplement their feeding. Furthermore, it educates women on the importance of a healthy and complete diet. For school children, the WFP not only provides two healthy meals a day, but also urges children to further their education and not drop out.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture of Uganda, the WFP teaches subsistence farmers methods to increase the productivity, diversity and nutrition of their crops. This approach of educating farmers adds value to the country by allowing the farmers to learn and improve their sustainability. Programs like these offer Ugandans hope for ongoing wellbeing and a greater chance of prosperity.
– Tanvi Wattal