Famine in Uganda

Famine, Karamoja, Uganda – Update

May 3, 2017

Uganda, one of the world’s poorest nations is again suffering a “forgotten famine”. As attention focuses on strife-torn nations to its north, hunger is rife in Uganda, with food shortages leading to rapidly rising prices and a continuing drought, particularly in the poorest regions, such as Karamoja in the north-east. The situation is so bad that women and children are foraging in the forests for leaves to use for food, according to local priests. But the forests themselves are in danger because people are eking out a living by selling firewood and charcoal.

There has also been an increase in theft as well as domestic violence and drunkenness, the priests have told the Catholic charity SPICMA – Special Projects in Christian Missionary Areas – which has donated £45,000 to three remote parishes since it received an appeal from them a month ago. One of them is Loyoro a large parish with long distances between settlements and few medical facilities. At least 4,000 people in the parish are in serious need of food aid. Among them are refugees from South Sudan, some of the 1.5 million in the country.

Despite its poverty Uganda has one of the world’s most generous refugee policies, allotting refugees plots of land to build new lives. Loyoro received £10,000 from SPICMA and, a local priest said, “we have managed to feed and help many people; young and old, diseased and sick, and orphans and refugees.” The grant provided maize, beans, salt, cooking oil and medicine to nearly 3,000 of the most vulnerable. They were distributed on the “family meal principle” meaning, giving foods that constitute a meal rather than a stock of one staple such as flour because that leads to a temptation to sell some of it. However, the family meal principle is expensive on a large scale or for a long period. And, the priests say, the numbers needing help are increasing. “Day in, day out the vulnerability increases,” their report said. “The people entirely rely on the little that we can provide to them. It is tragic but we still hope the situation may improve.”

SPICMA has sent another £25K for famine relief split between three parishes in Uganda. This brings our total sent to £45K since mid-March. Thank you to all who have donated.


Return of Famine, Karamoja, Uganda

March 7, 2017

The shadow of famine has returned to Karamoja, Uganda. Fr Mitema MHM has asked for your help in feeding the people of his parish of Loyoro and neighbouring Panyangara. He writes, “The situation was of promise last year, though the harvest was once more minimal. Now in much of East Africa and in Uganda as a whole, food production is insufficient and the little in the markets has pushed the prices very high beyond ordinary families’ means”.

Once again, people are on the move in an attempt to find food and water. Further-more, many refugees from neighbouring South Sudan are entering the area, fleeing from famine and war. This is adding to pressures on scarce resources.

Donations will be used to purchase and distribute maize flour, cooking oil, salt, beans and medicine. SPICMA will send out £20K from existing funds to allow them to start purchasing basic items.


Famine in Karamoja, Uganda

Final Report December 2016

Fr Sylvester, the Mill Hill Missionary priest who coordinated our food aid assistance, has sent us a final report. It highlights how and where aid was given but also it describes many of the problems and tragedies that famine brings and, as you would expect, much of it makes for difficult reading.


Famine Appeal – Karamoja, Uganda

Update from Kotido, October 12, 2016


Dear Bernard, Greetings. I presume you reached well after some good rest. Welcome back. I take this chance to heartily thank you for every support to us here in Loyoro. With your help to us through SPICMA, we are grateful. Thanks SPICMA, thanks Bernard, Alakara nooi.

Attached here is the report for the food relief. Many blessings.
Mitema Andrew, mhm . Sacred Heart Parish Loyoro . KOTIDO . Uganda


Karamoja, Uganda

Update May 3, 2016

Fr Sylvester sent us a report today on the ongoing situation in Karamoja. Things are improving and he feels optimistic enough to entitle his report There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Note from SPICMA: Because of the on-going serious situation, we have now sent £130,000 to the Missionaries but this has been an extremely difficult project. It continues to be far too large a problem for us on our own however, thanks to your generosity, we have been able to maintain a minimal level of sustenance for many over the last eight months.

Update April 24, 2016

Some welcome rain has arrived but long term food security for the people of the region remains a big concern. Fr Sylvester sent us this report earlier this month.

Update March 1, 2016

SPICMA today issued a press release detailing the worsening situation in Karamoja, Uganda. The document does contain some distressing images.

Update January 13, 2016

Fr Odhiambo, the Parish Priest of Panyangara Catholic Parish has sent us an update on the situation in Karamoja and also a report from the Daily Monitor newspaper, one of the leading newspapers in Uganda.

Update January 4, 2016

Today SPICMA sent a further £40,000.00 for continued famine relief to the Priests at Kotido. This is estimated to be enough funds for relief until at least February and possibly end of March. In total we have sent so far £82,000.00 to Kotido Catholic Diocese in Uganda for feeding the older people and children who are most at risk. The commitment and work of the MHM priests there is incredible.

Update December 15, 2015

Uganda Famine 2015

We were once again very grateful to receive another transfer of funds for famine relief from SPICMA.

Fr. Sylvester Odhiambo, Mill Hill Missionary, tells us how the famine is still ravaging the people of Karamoja. If you can help then please donate here.

Update November 23, 2015

Fr. Philip Adede Amek mhm has sent us an update of the worsening situation. Please click to read more: Famine in Karimojong – a cry for help from Loyoro, Uganda

Today SPICMA has sent another £15,000 from reserves to maintain food supplies via MH Missionaries in Karamoja.

Update October 20, 2015

Dear Cathy,
Many greetings from Karamoja and thanks for the email. The hunger situation is bad and so far there are no other organization offering food relief. The only limited food distribution is being done by world food programme (WFP). What they are doing is what is locally here called food for work. Selected community members are assigned some community activity like planting tree, clearing the road etc. and then they are given food. The government also recently announced that they are going to send some food but it is not yet and even if it come it will be very little compared to the population affected by draught. I would therefore request that if it were possible you support us with £10,000 per month. With this amount we can focus on the most vulnerable people that we have identified. These peoples’ situation is very bad and they will normally miss out in the general food distribution. You can support us for the next three months then we make an assessment of how things are moving on then we decide on the way forward.
Find in the attachment some more information about the famine situation in Kotido District. The research was done by JICAHWA a local NGO here in Kotido. I think it very much reflect the situation on the ground. The other attachment is an article that was recently published in the Daily Monitor, one of the leading newspapers here in Uganda.
Many regards.
[Fr.] Sylvester

Message from Paddy Phelan: We have agreed to fund three more payments of £10k as the situation is dire. If you can help then please donate what you can. Thank you.

Update October 16, 2015

Dear Spicma – Thanks for all your support.It has been a very hard time in the last few days discovering more people who are really suffering from hunger. A number of old women and men are already housebound due to hunger. Last Sunday an old woman walked to one of our Chapel hoping for help. She was so weak due to lack of food. She told me that, “I had a choice of remaining in the house to wait for death or try my luck to see you.”

We have been trying to reach the most needy by getting the Christian Community the young and old to identify them and to take them some food items. This week we started distributing more food items that we bought (mainly maize and beans). We are distributing to only people who are extremely vulnerable like the sick, the very old and helpless and those who are extremely poor.

Next week we hope to finish this round of food distribution and then I will be able to estimate the amount of food that we may need in the future. The famine situation is still developing and no other organisation is distributing food. It is therefore still a bit difficult to know how the situation will develop. However after next week I hope that I will have a bit more clear picture of the situation and let you know how much we will need. I have attached a few photos of some of the people we have support in the ongoing distribution.


God Bless You. Fr Sylvester MHM

Appeal Launch September 16, 2015:

The next rain in Karamoja is expected next year in March or April and the next food harvests are expected in September and October next year.

The next rain in Karamoja is expected next year in March or April and the next food harvests are expected in September and October next year.

Karamoja region is a unique and troubled region. It is a semi-arid and characterised
by a combination of acute poverty, vulnerability, an unpredictable drought cycle.
This year we are staring at a catastrophe approaching. Ordinarily this time should
have been a time of crop harvesting. However, due to severe drought conditions the
crops have completely failed. As a consequence our people are now starving and
dying. The food security situation is at a very critical point. The number of those starving is
increasing every day. Even with the El Nino weather condition in the neighbouring
region, Karamoja is very very dry.In our Loyoro Parishes and Panyangara Parishes and in our heath units at Kanawat,
Losilang, Kaabong and Kapedoe we are supporting vulnerable people with food and
other non food items like soap, medicines and clothing. However, due to the fast
deteriorating famine situation the number of those most vulnerable is rapidly
increasing. That is why we are requesting please to help us support them through
this difficult period.

Fr Sylvester mhm

As speed is also important we have sent an immediate transfer today (16/09/2015) of £10,000.00 to help them and with your help we hope to increase on that sum. Paddy, SPICMA.

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