By Edwin Muhumuza
Government has committed to sustain all program interventions to strengthen the health systems to end malnutrition in Karamoja. This during the launch of the Karamoja Nutrition Program, an initiative funded by UKAid and implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund(UNICEF) and the United Nations World Food Programme(WFP) in Kotido district.
Approximately 28million Pounds have been invested in Karamoja by the UK .The nutrition program is expected to strengthen government’s health system to ensure children and mothers across the region receive high quality health and nutrition services and are better nourished.
Chiefguest, the minister of Karamoja Affairs, Hon. John Byabagambi, in his remarks challenged local leaders to champion the program and not look at development partners as saviours.
‘’We must work for ourselves, our people and we go out whenever there is good weather to grow and store food.’’Byabagambi noted.
In attendance, area legislators and local government leaders continuously appealed for more support of Karamoja in education, Agriculture and more programs to which the minister urged them to own the program to benefit their communities.
‘’I don’t want any local leader to expect the development partners to lead their programs. You do not expect them to be everywhere because the money they have cannot satisfy all of us. We are lucky that they can get tax payers money from the UK and give it to us..’
Francesca Stidston, the Acting Head of Office for the Department for International Development(DFID) said ,’’reports say Karamoja has made commendable progress in improving health outcomes, however more needs to be done to ensure that even the hardest to reach have access to life saving services.’’
Ms Stidston noted that, the information gathered had steered the direction they took on the Karamoja Nutrition Program but also not forgetting that Malaria is the leading cause of sickness in the region therefore UK is pleased to launch this program along with our support for the prevention and control of malaria in this region.
‘’This program aims to save more lives, reduce vulnerability of women and children while ensuring increased productivity. The UK government remains committed to reaching 50million people by 2020 and such programs will continue,’’she added.
84% of people in Karamoja are unable to afford a nutritious daily diet,45% of households have limited access to food and over have of all households do not have much diversity in their diet. The reason why malnutrition is a major impediment to Karamoja’s development, undermining the health and economic prospects of the population,reports suggest.
Initially Karamoja was free from malnutrition but due to insecurity in the 90’s a lot of cattle was lost and so elders, children and pregnant mothers who entirely depended on milk and other by products for food could no longer have access to the nutritious food. This coupled with a harsh environment was not able to provide an alternative and hence communities resorted to consuming local gin/alcohol and thus malnutrition, according to local leaders.