Food and Agriculture Organisation [FAO] has listed Uganda-the Pearl of Africa-among the 27 African countries that urgently need food assistance.
FAO is an agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
In its No.1 March 2016 “Crop Prospects and Food Situation” report, FAO estimates that, globally, 34 countries, including 27 in Africa, are in need of external assistance for food.
“Civil conflicts continued to severely affect the food security of a number of countries, while adverse weather, in some cases linked to El Niño, curbed production in others, constraining food access and pushing consumer prices up,” the report says.
The report says adverse weather reduced 2015 cereal output, resulting in a significant increase in the number of food insecure people in several countries, with conflicts further affecting food security and the agriculture sector in parts of Africa.
“Planting of the 2016 crops has begun in Central, East and West Africa, while in Southern Africa, with the harvest expected to commence from April, El Niño-associated drought conditions have significantly dampened production prospects, with severe negative implications for food security in the sub region.”
In North Africa, 2016 production prospects are mixed, with ongoing drought in Morocco and Algeria lowering production expectations.
The report says Uganda’s crop production is below average.
“About 320, 000 people in Karamoja region are estimated to be severely food insecure following consecutive unfavourable rainy seasons.”
Uganda’s First Lady, Janet Kataaha Museveni, is the minister for Karamoja Affairs.
In September 2015, scores of elderly persons and children starved to death in Moroto and Napak districts weeks after government pledged to send emergency food aid to Karamoja.
Some of the most affected sub counties in Moroto included; Rupa, Katikeikile, Tapac and Nadunget. Others in Napak are Ngoleriat, Lokopo and Lopei Sub Counties.
John Baptist Looki, the area MP for Matheniko County, said hundreds of people were forced to cross to Kenya, migrate to mining areas after a failed harvest last season.
Max Lokabenyan, the LC3 Chairperson Nadunget Sub County told Uganda Radio Network that he personally saw a child die in Akipeitar village, Acerer parish in his area.
Simon Peter Aleper, the Moroto Municipality MP reported that four people has died and several others were bed ridden due to hunger in Kambizzi village.
This came after President Yoweri Museveni had pledged relief aid to the sub-region describing the situation as urgent for food aid response.
Other African countries in need of food assistance include; Central African Republic, Burundi, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Guinea Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sierra Leone, Cameroon Nigeria, Congo, Madagascar, Mozambique and Swaziland.
The report says countries requiring external assistance for food are expected to lack the resources to deal with reported critical problems of food insecurity.