Food shortage and malnutrition

15 June 2020

In Karamoja the number of malnourished children increases. In 2018, three out of ten children younger than 5 years old were malnourished. By now this has increased to four out of ten, 40%. In most cases it is acute malnourishment, a dangerous condition that hinders the development of the brain.

The regional hospital in Moroto receives at least five children with acute malnourishment every day. Causes for malnutrition are food shortage, poverty, unregular rainfall, failed crops and wrong pattern of spending habits. The number of malnourished children has increased since the outbreak of COVID-19. Because of the lockdown measured and increased poverty, many parents can not longer offer their children a varied meal.

The damage of the locust invasion seems to be limited to a minimum. Because of the ongoing rainfall and changing directions of the wind, the risk of a new invasion by locusts from Kenya is limited. The locusts that were seen in Uganda earlier have died or migrated to South Sudan. The damage is local in Teso, Karamoje and parts of Acholt and Lango.

One of the measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 was closing the schools. Al school going children have been at home since March 20. We have written about the increased risks of domestic violence, arranged marriage and circumcisions for girls earlier. But in Karamoja 130.000 student miss a regular school meal. These meals are very important to vulnerable children.

Our students

At the beginning of March CCA found the younger brother of a sponsored student in extremely bad condition. At a visit to the hospital the boy was hospitalised due to acute malnourishment. Based on his height, it was first assumed that this was a 6 to 12 month old child. Krop is very small and is retarded in his development. His teeth show however that Krop is a two year old child. A very worrying situation, with severe consequences for his development and future. Krop receives treatment, extra nutrition and care. His mother drinks a lot of alcohol and leaves to care for her children to her 5 year old daughter. After hospitalisation we see Krop getting stronger at his uncle’s house.

In April CCA came in touch with Cheyech’s family. Her parents have practically nothing and live in a very small house on the land of the church. The family doesn’t have land and doesn’t have an income to pay for the food and other basic needs for their three children. Ceyech is therefore very thin and was diagnosed as heavily malnourished in the Amudat hospital. At school Cheyes got breakfast, lunch and supper every day. The impact of good food was visible. Cheyech looked healthier and had more energy. When the schools closed because of COVID-19, Cheyech went back home. The closure of the school coincided with a period of drought and shortage. The family had no food and because of the lockdown the prices for food went sky rocketing. Cheyech got heavily malnourished. At the moment she stays with other girls, who run the risks of an arranged marriage, in an emergency shelter. With our local partner, we are investigation what we can do for Cheyech’s family and other vulnerable children. We receive a huge number of signals about famine, food shortage and malnutrition and we are worried about the situation in Karamoja, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown

Sources: Malnutrition on the rise in Karmoja (The Independent, 1 May 2020) Malnutrition reclaims Karamoja amid Covid-19 pandemic (PML Daily, 22 May 23020, WFP Uganda Country Brief (WFP, 4 June 2020, Humanitarian Situation Report No. 4 ( UNICEF Uganda, April 2020)

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