KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Japanese government has donated food aid worth $1 million (about Shs 3.5bn) to the starving people of Karamoja sub-region.
Speaking to journalists at the World Food Programme (WFP) offices in Kampala, Japanese ambassador Fukzawa Hidemoto said they had signed off the funds to help with the purchase of beans and maize flour. Catherine Ahimbisibwe, the acting commissioner for relief, disaster preparedness, and refugees said WFP has so far transported up to 400 metric tonnes of food to the area.
She says that the WFP will use the money to procure the food, transport it, and distribute it to the people of Karamoja. Karamoja has experienced two seasons of crop failures due to prolonged drought which was accompanied by flooding. This prompted the government to start delivering food rations, an exercise that started in March.
To date, about 2,000 metric tonnes of maize and 1,000 metric tonnes of beans have been sent. About half a million people are estimated to be food insecure in the region. Apart from the government and donors, recently the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) also delivered food to the area in addition to NGOs that have started food collection drives.
An estimated 1000 people are said to have starved to death in Karamoja in the last two years. Earlier, the US donated $21m towards the same cause, Saudi Arabia also donated 5 tonnes of dates while China sent food donations in April. Government last week said it had committed at least Shs 135bn for the next 3 months towards the hunger crisis in Karamoja.