SPICMA January update

Drought, hunger strike Karamoja Karamoja is a region which is highly vulnerable to many calamities. The people are generally very poor and illiterate. The climate is general harsh. During dry season everything dries and people suffer the consequences of the drought. During rainy season the region is prone to flash floods and people and animals die in the flood. This are just a few of the challenges of that the region face not to mention diseases that people suffer.

In 2015 the region suffered a prolonged drought and the worst consequences of the drought are now being felt. Majority of people are starving and some are dying as a result of hunger particularly the elderly and the sick people.

Since September the number of people starving has been increasing. Right now the general life of the people is completely disrupted by the hunger situation. In Panyangara, a number of people are travelling to Abim district to try to find some food there. (Abim district generally receives much rain). Some have resorted to burning charcoal and selling cheaply in Kotido town in order to buy some food. A number of school going youth who are currently at home for holidays are making burnt bricks to find some money for food. Some are also going to the forests to gather some wild vegetables for meals. Unfortunately, with the drought ravaging the region there is not much to be harvested. Eating of residue from local brew has also now become common in towns. The residues are normally thrown or fed to pigs. The situation is bad and it is increasingly becoming tough.

For the elderly people things are critical. The elderly people are not able to move or to do anything to save themselves from hunger. A number of them are dying of starvation. In Panyangara in the last three week there have been eight death reported due to starvation. In Loyoro there have been three deaths reported. Some of the elderly people are being taken to hospital and abandoned there by their relatives with the hope that they will get some help there.

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Up to now there is no organization focusing on solving the hunger. The government has made many promises to bring food but what they have brought so far is so little to solve the catastrophe we are facing.

In Panyangara and Loyoro, with the help of SPICMA, we have been able to save lives.

Panyangara Catholic Parish is in Kotido District. The population of Kotido District is 154, 604 (census 2014). Panyangara Catholic Parish comprises of Panyangara Sub-county and Nakapelimoru Sub-county. The combined population of Panyangara Sub-county and Nakapelimoru Sub-county is 67,392. The population of Panyangara sub-county is 46,250 and the population of Nakapelimoru sub-county is 21,142. In this area we have been constantly helping seven hundred and seventy five people since October.

Loyoro Parish is in Kaabong district. The population of Kaabong is 169,274. Loyor Parish comprises of Sidok and Loyoro sub counties. The population of Loyoro sub county is 31,182 and the population of Sidok sub county is 34.063. The total population of the parish is 65,245. In this parish we have constantly been helping three hundred and seventy five people since October.

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In both parishes the people we are dealing with are mainly the old, mothers with young babies, sick people and other people who have no other way of finding their own food. The needy people are far too many but we try only to deal with those whose situation is critical. The number we are dealing with are very small compared to the number of people who need food. If funds are available these numbers could be doubled.

We are also helping in the mission hospital of Kaabong, Kanawat, Losilang and Kapedo. In the hospital those who are malnourished are given some food.

We are very grateful for the help from SPICMA. The help is saving life here and the people are very grateful.

Fr. Sylvester Odhiambo MHM
Parish Priest
Panyangara Catholic Parish
Kotido Catholic Diocese
Karamoja, Uganda