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February 2007 - Nr. 2


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Food to Karamoja

WFP Begins Food Distributions

To 500,000 Hit By Drought In Karamoja, Uganda

KAMPALA – The United Nations World Food Programme today started distributions of food to 500,000 people in Karamoja, northeastern Uganda, where families are reeling from the effects of a third drought in six years.

Karamoja is the poorest region in Uganda and its single rainy season from June to August 2006 was well below average. This resulted in a considerably reduced crop of the staple, sorghum, with prices rising beyond what many people can afford.

"This extraordinary cycle of repeated drought is too heavy a burden for families in Karamoja to bear," said WFP Country Director Tesema Negash. "People can’t buy enough food to survive."

"The rains generally fail every five years, but since 2000, we’ve seen a drought every second year. The effects are devastating, especially for those who are most vulnerable – pregnant and nursing mothers and young children," Negash added.

Results of a nutrition survey in September 2006 by the Ministry of Health with WFP and UNICEF support, showed that the acute malnutrition rate among children under the age of five in Karamoja is 13.4 percent. In Moroto district, the rate is 16.8 percent. Fifteen percent or above indicates an emergency.

WFP’s first distributions – of maize and beans to 10,000 people – are in Lorengedwat sub-county in Nakapiripirit district, in partnership with the District Disaster Management Committee. Distributions will start on 19 January in Moroto, which has been worst-affected.

WFP is currently carrying out a food security assessment together with the Government, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Famine Early Warning Systems Network in other parts of Karamoja, particularly Abim, Kotido and Kaabong districts.

Rations for drought-affected families are intended to provide 50 percent of the minimum daily energy requirement of 2,100 kilocalories – the gap between the food that families can produce themselves or buy in markets, and their basic needs.

Until July, WFP will provide 23,000 metric tons of food for families in Karamoja at a cost of nearly US$12 million. In July, the first early maturing vegetables and beans should be ready for harvest. The main harvest of sorghum is in September and October.

Even without the drought, people in Karamoja struggle to eke out a living. A food security and vulnerability analysis undertaken by WFP, the government and other partners in November 2005 found that Karamoja has Uganda’s highest percentage of households eating once a day or less (60 percent); malnutrition is the leading cause of mortality in the region which has the highest rate in the country of severe and moderate malnutrition among children.

The survey also showed that Karamoja has the lowest number of literate mothers of infants (17 percent compared to 40-60 percent in conflict-affected Acholiland in northern Uganda) and the highest percentage of mothers with no schooling at all (80 percent). The region has the highest rates of stunted growth among children (34 percent) and wasting (22 percent). Thirty-one percent of children in Karamoja are underweight.

WFP will continue its regular assistance for Karamoja through its Food for Education, Food for Health and Food for Assets programmes throughout 2007, supporting vulnerable groups and helping communities take part in activities that improve their food security.

In 2007, WFP needs US$127 million to provide relief and recovery assistance to internally displaced people and refugees in Uganda, as well as drought-affected people in Karamoja. WFP hopes to assist 3.5 million people with its partners including the Government of Uganda.

In addition to logistical support from the Government of Uganda, WFP has received the following contributions in 2006: United States (US$45.5 million); Britain’s Department for International Development (US$28.9 million), the European Union (US$5 million), Canada (US$4.8 million), Japan (US$2.8 million); multilateral (US$2.2 million), Norway, (US$6.6 million), The Netherlands (US$6.6 million), Finland (US$1.6 million), France (US$1.6 million); Ireland (US$2.5 million), Switzerland (US$1.1 million), Belgium (US$862,000), Iceland (US$ 800,000), US Friends of WFP (US$40,000), private donors (US$9,000).

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency: each year, we give food to an average of 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 58 million hungry children in at least 80 of the world’s poorest countries. WFP -- We Feed People.

WFP Global School Feeding Campaign – For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school – a gift of hope for a brighter future. Visit our website:

For more information please contact (email:

  • Peter Smerdon, WFP/Nairobi, Tel. +254 20 7622 179, Mob. +254 733 528 911

  • Lydia Wamala, WFP/Uganda Tel. +256-312-242408 or 256-772-778-037

  • Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel. +44-20-72409001, Cell. +44-7968-008474

  • Christiane Berthiaume, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564, Cell. +41-792857304

  • Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-212-9635196, Cell. +1-646-8241112,  


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