Fred Ojambo

Uganda says 1.3 million people are facing hunger due to drought

Uganda said at least 1.3 million people in various parts of the East African nation need food aid urgently after a dry spell decimated harvests.

The nation’s northeastern Karamoja region is the worst hit with two in three people having access to only half a meal or less per day, Christopher Kibazanga, minister of state for agriculture, said in an e-mailed statement from the capital, Kampala. Teso sub-region and the western district of Isingiro are also badly affected.

This year’s first rains, which normally begin in March, were more than three weeks late and below average in the northwest, central and eastern parts of the country, according to the statement. The second season over August-October was also delayed after a dry spell in May-June that destroyed crops, it said. Uganda, which is Africa’s biggest exporter of coffee, has a population of about 39 million people, according to the World Bank.

“There is fear if individuals and families do not manage the available food stocks at household levels well, the situation can quickly deteriorate to the emergency and famine stages of food insecurity within the next two months,” Kibazanga said.