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Japan steps in to halt worrying malnutrition in Karamoja

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Japan steps in to halt worrying malnutrition in Karamoja

Partnership: Left to right, WFP boss El-Khidir Daloum, Karamoja Minister Byabagambi and Ambassador Kameda


The government of Japan has unveiled a US$600,000 financial envelope to be used by the World Food Program to respond to worrying levels of malnutrition in Karamoja.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed a contribution of US$600,000 from the Government of Japan to boost nutrition and prevent deaths of young children in Karamoja region, where households in two out of nine districts have malnutrition above emergency levels.

The Japanese donation comes hot on the heals of recent findings which showed that all of the nine districts of Karamoja, had worrying levels of malnutrition among young children and pregnant and nursing women, but in both Moroto and Napak, malnutrition above emergency levels.

“This is a very timely and important contribution,” said WFP Country Director El-Khidir Daloum. “Japan has proved its commitment to supporting Uganda by addressing hunger at critical times through WFP and has played its part in both saving and improving people’s lives.”

Daloum hailed the Japanese government for responding to WFP’s appeal in the last five years during which they have made generous contributions, totaling more than US$15.5 million including the latest support towards WFP’s work in Uganda.

Daloum said Japan’s financial assistance will enable them to provide enriched foods to 26,000 children aged under five, pregnant women and new mothers in the worst-hit Moroto and Napak Districts for at least three months to stop overall malnutrition levels increasing.

A recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification assessment found that between February and August, 2020 rates of life-threatening malnutrition were above Emergency levels in Moroto and Napak. The rest of the region’s districts were in Alert, meaning they also have relatively high levels of malnutrition.

Poor diets, chronic food shortages, poor sanitation and high levels of diarrhoea and malaria were cited as major contributors to the situation. High workloads for mothers and therefore reduced time for breastfeeding and other childcare were also cited as driving malnutrition.

WFP argues that above-emergency levels of malnutrition call for blanket feeding, which means providing enriched foods to all children aged under five and pregnant women and new mothers in a specific area whether or not they are diagnosed with malnutrition. Blanket supplementary feeding helps reduce levels of malnutrition and the risk of deaths among young children.

Pregnant and nursing women need more nutrients including minerals and vitamins than other women because of changes in their bodies. Malnourished children also have a greater need for nutrients and are more likely to fall sick because of reduced immunity and are at higher risk of death.

Japan’s outgoing Ambassador, Kazuaki Kameda, said: “We very much hope the grant will improve the nutritional condition of children aged between 6-59 months and pregnant and nursing women in a region whose food security is also threatened by locusts and other pests, floods and human and animal diseases,” he added.

Karamoja already has high rates of stunting, where children are short for their age, low on immunity and often mentally impaired. Over 35 percent of children aged under five in the region are stunted. High rates of life-threatening and acute malnutrition combined with stunting put the futures of children at stake

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