Starving Kaabong residents trek to Kenya to beg for food

Karimojong during a recent meeting in Kaabong Town Council. The residents, faced with hunger, have looked to the neighbouring Kenya for help. PHOTO BY STEVEN ARIONG

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Area authorities indicate that several letters to the Prime Minister’s office over the matter have not been responded to.

Residents of Kaabong District have crossed to Kenya in search of food following a food crisis back at home. About 3,000 Karimojong have crossed to the neighbouring country where the government is conducting a general food distribution for the Turkana.
The Turkana last year and early this year faced long spells of drought resulting in the food shortage there.

The development comes barely one year after the World Food Programme stopped conducting general food distribution in Karamoja. The body opted for a project aimed at enabling people practice agriculture to ensure food safety. The programme has not yielded results.

The Kaabong district chairperson, Mr Joseph Komol, confirmed the development but described it as a shame to the Ugandan government. “Some of the Karimojongs have refused to return despite receiving food from the Kenyan government. Some have stayed there since January,” he said.

Mr Komol this week said efforts to stop residents from crossing to Kenya have been futile because they demand for food in order to stay. The district boss indicated that the Karimojong are now staying in a camp located at Kakuma in Turkana District with many of them doing domestic work for Kenyans in order to earn a living.

He said he has written several letters to the Office of the Prime Minister asking for immediate support but no action has been taken. “This year, all the crops that people had cultivated have been damaged by heavy rains which might expose us to hunger again,” he said.

The State Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Mr Musa Ecweru, when contacted said the situation will be addressed. “I am going to meet with the Minister of Karamoja Affairs, Ms Janet Museveni, and forge a way forward on how to address that situation,” he said.

This newspaper has learnt that the majority of people who crossed to Kenya are from Kamion, Timu, and Lokwaramoi parishes in Kamion Sub-county.
Kaabong borders Kenya, the largest economy in East Africa.


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