UN programme addresses underlying causes of hunger in Uganda

14 April 2010 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is launching a new livelihood programme designed to address the underlying causes of food shortages in Karamoja, the poorest and most marginalised region in Uganda which has not had a successful harvest in five years and where more than 80 per cent of the population lives in poverty.

“Karamoja needs to find a way out of the almost continual need for food and other assistance and WFP is a vital part of the solution,” said WFP Uganda Country Director Stanlake Samkange.

WFP said the new livelihoods programme combined with the emergency operation will benefit some 400,000 people.Under the leadership of the Government of Uganda, and with support from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Organization for Migration, the Karamoja Productive Assets Programme will target moderately food-insecure households in the north-east region of the East African country.

Participants will grow cash crops and develop better farming techniques in the arid region known for its lack of rainfall, and acquire skills through food or cash-for-work schemes.

The projects will include the cultivation of cassava, the production of cash crops such as gum Arabic and onions, and the creation of water-harvesting assets including low-technology dams.

In addition, WFP will support fuel and soil conservation, energy-saving technology including cooking stoves in schools, and tree planting.

While the new programme is a shift from traditional relief operations in the region, the UN agency will continue providing rations to the country’s 1.2 million people.

As part of an emergency operation that will start next week and run until the end of the year, WFP will distribute monthly food rations to 300,000 people, particularly vulnerable households and homes with malnourished children.

“Continuous longer-term food distributions cannot on their own end hunger in Karamoja,” said Mr. Samkange.

WFP said the new livelihoods programme combined with the emergency operation will benefit some 400,000 people.

The agency needs $25 million to run the livelihoods programme until the end of the year, of which $5.2 million has been raised.

“WFP urgently needs more support from donors. Without it, we will be unable to seize the development opportunities facing us,” said Mr. Samkange.

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