In a tiny rural village in northeastern Uganda, a woman sits outside her mud hut. Her name is Anna, and the front of her hut is as far as she can manage to travel. To move even that short distance, she must crawl, using all of what little strength she has. With one look at her frail frame, one might guess that Anna was in her 70s or 80s. She is thirty-nine years old.
Anna, like many of her neighbors in the Karamoja region of Uganda, is suffering the effects of prolonged hunger and malnutrition due to recurring droughts and locusts, which have affected her ability to get adequate food.
Karamoja is classified as one of the world’s poorest areas. At least 61% of its 1.2 million people are currently living in poverty. Many of the children, who have experienced three years of acute malnutrition, are showing signs of stunting which may affect their performance in school and ability to obtain adequate skills for future employment.
In addition, the Karamoja region has an extremely high fertility rate, with women giving birth to an average of eight children. Children make up a majority of the population of Karamoja, making it the least socially and economically developed region in northern Uganda. Additionally, many of these children are left with grandparents so that the parents can leave to find work elsewhere.
Those remaining in the Karamoja region struggle to provide due to a prolonged drought that prevents their crops from providing sufficient food.
“Our people are hardworking,” shared Anthony Lemuko, the subcounty chief for the community of Matany in Karamoja. “They can cultivate [the land] but often they cannot harvest. We are approaching the harvest period, but we are already seeing that our people are not going to get any food.”
Aware of the problem in Karamoja, the government said it would send food to feed people for three months. Florence Naduk, former officer of the Office of the Prime Minister, shared, “The people are still living with hope that the government is going to deliver food, but we are not seeing the food.”
With funding provided by Children’s Hunger Fund and Austin Ridge Bible Church, our in-country partners at Africa Renewal Ministries (ARM) have been able to hold food distributions to areas in need in the Karamoja region. You can watch highlights from their first day of distribution here [Vimeo link to Day 1 video].
ARM set a goal to reach out to at least 2,000 vulnerable families in the Karamoja region, specifically targeting families with malnourished children, elderly people, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable families. For those families who are unable to travel to the food distribution, a small team from Africa Renewal Ministries and Gaba Community Church will visit them in their villages.
On ARM’s initial assessment of the situation, Ruth Musana, CHF’s Mercy Network Coordinator for Uganda, visited Anna’s village with a small team. They were able to leave her with a bag of corn flour and a bag of beans and prayed over her and her son, who was also too malnourished to walk. When the team next visited her village, Anna surprised them by getting up on her own and moving with the help of a long walking stick.
So, what can you do to help?
Most importantly, you can pray for the vulnerable families of the Karamoja region of Uganda. Pray for the diligent workers of Africa Renewal Ministries and Gaba Community Church who are generously giving their time to bring food to those who need it most. Pray that the gospel message would be received in the hearts of those who hear it through this ministry of mercy.
If you choose to do so, you can give to the ministry of Children’s Hunger Fund. The emergency funding that was sent to our partners in Uganda was only made possible due to the generosity of our Children’s Hunger Fund friends and supporters.
Thank you for you compassion for children and families in need.