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Famine puts 1.3m Ugandans on verge of death

As millions more face similar situation in a few weeks

Crop failure in most parts of the country has left millions of people without anything to eat
Crop failure in most parts of the country has left millions of people without anything to eat

Up to 1.3million Ugandans have nothing to eat and could die if no food relief is delivered to the starving population in a matter of days, the assistant minister of state for agriculture has warned.

Christopher Kibazanga, the Assistant Minister of Agriculture told a news conference on Thursday that the food crisis affecting the country is a result of two failed rain seasons March -May and the current September – December rains that have caused crop failures among millions of farmers.

Perhaps more worrying, according to projections, is that the effects of the dry spell are likely to worsen with the current dry spell expected to continue until March 2017.

Kibanzanga said some 600kg and 300kg of maize flour and beans respectively had been dispatched to Isingiro and Karamoja to respond to the emergency situation where some people have been reported to have died of famine.

“Our biggest fear now is the current la nina conditions (extended-dry-spell) in some parts of the country which is forecasted by the National Meteorological Authority to last between September 2016 and March 2017,” said Kibanzanga.

The districts most affected are those in the usually drought-prone zones of the cattle corridle that stretches from Karamoja through Teso Sub-region, and some parts of Ankole region.

Kibanzanga said: “25% of the population in Isingiro District are in an emergency phase of food insecurity; meaning they access half a meal or nothing at all in a day.

“65% of the population in Karamoja subregion are in a crisis phase of food insecurity; meaning they access one meal or half a meal in a day.

“35% of the population in the districts of Katakwi, Amuria, Kumi, Bukedea, parts of Serere and Kaberamaido are in the same phase with Karamoja subregion (crisis); meaning they access one meal or half a meal in a day.”

Millions of other people including from the greater Busoga sub-region, Northern Uganda, Parts of West Nile, Parts of Buganda such as Rakai ‘are in a stressed phase of food insecurity,’

The minister warned that although several more millions of people in other areas can still get all meals, stocks are running out, which means they will face similar tragedy.

The Minister advised all Ugandans to cut back on spending in the coming few months to spare money to buy food. He also advised farmers who still have some food left not to be swayed by current and expected increases in farm gate prices.

The current food shortage comes at a time of an economy-wide economic meltdown that has claimed one bank amid a crumbling property market as well as failure of other businesses.

The ministers’ proposals to the population will likely add to the existing sense of anxiety in the population with the possibility of damaging demand even further.