Hunger: Mothers catch termites to feed families

Monday May 01 2017
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Amuria. With hunger biting countrywide following a prolonged dry spell, some residents in Teso sub-region have been forced to opt for termites as food.
Ms Grace Akiteng, a mother of seven children and a resident of Wera Sub-county in Amuria District, is one such resident who survives on termites.
Ms Akiteng wakes up early morning to cut grass, sort and soak it with some roots of the Ekoboi shrubs, that attract termites.
“After soaking, I draw the grass out and leave it for about 20 minutes to dry before carrying it to an anthill. I then dig through a portion of the anthill until I locate a path the termites where I lay the grass,” she said
Ms Akiteng says in a few minutes, the termites hold onto the grass thinking it’s an intruder.
“I pull out the grass and strip them into a container,” she narrates.
On a good day, Ms Akiteng said she harvests up to three kilogrammes of termites, which her family feeds on for lunch and supper.
Ms Salume Atim, also a resident of Amuria, said families have resorted to feasting on termites as they have no other option since their crops dried up.
“Currently, getting a family where people have two meals a day in Teso region is difficult, except for families with some members earning a salary, but for us it’s terrible,” she said.
However, some residents like Ms Jenifer Akajo utilised the first rains and harvested some white ants, which they are currently feeding on.
Speaking to Daily Monitor at the weekend, Mr Robert Okitoi, the Amuria District council chairperson, said “The situation is bad, people are now eating termites. I think the government should just declare a state of emergency for the regions of Teso, Karamoja and Lango.”
According to Mr Okitoi mothers are the most stressed as children cry endlessly because of the pangs of hunger.
Last week, Daily Monitor reported that the biting hunger was getting worse in Karamoja and Teso with some starving residents of Tisai Island in Kumi District forced to stake their National Identity Cards (IDs) as security to businessmen in exchange for food items received on credit. In Karamoja, most families have crossed into Kenya to be registered as refugees in camps in order to benefit from relief food that Kenya government is distributing to its people.
Recently, Mr Musa Ecweru, the state minister for Disaster Preparedness, said the population facing food shortages in the country had grown from 1.2 million people to 7 million people following a prolonged drought that has affected harvests countrywide.
Some of the seven million people in Uganda were reported to be at risk of starvation with others depending on porridge or wild roots and leaves daily for survival
However, last week government embarked on distributing food aid to communities and schools across the country and worst affected sub-counties in Katakwi, Amuria, Soroti and Kaberamaido districts.

7 million

Number of people currently facing food shortage in