The decision by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to cut food rations for the internally displaced people in Northern Uganda is beginning to bite at population accustomed to free food ratios.
The WFP this month started cutting by half food rations for more than 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in war-ravaged northern Uganda due to funding shortages.
Although more than 230,000 displaced people returned home in northern Uganda in 2006, an estimated 1.28 million still remain trapped in squalid camps in the northern districts of Kitgum and Pader. Most of these families are unable to provide sufficient food for their families.
The World Food Program has been distributing the displaced families with a weekly supply of two kilograms of maize flour, two kilograms of beans and a quarter liter of vegetable oil.
Opwoona Channon Ruloke is one of the 310,000 people in Kitgum whose family has for the last five years depended on WFP food rations to feed his family. He describes the WFP's decision to reduce the food rations as the biggest blow the IDPs have faced in the recent past.
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The WFP has been providing up to 75 percent of the food consumed in the camps. The foods ratios have been reduced to 40 percent with a view that the IDPs could produce the rest of their food needs.
Opwoona says that uncertainty about their security makes food cultivation by the IDPs a virtual impossibility. He says that food production can only be possible through improved security in the northern region.
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In the meantime, every morning women from Acholi Bur IDP camp strap their children to their backs and make a trip to Lanya Dinyang River to catch mudfish, which they hope will supplement their meager income. Oblivious to the health hazards spending hours in the muddy stagnant water, some women even strip naked and plunge into the river to hunt for the mudfish.
With nothing to occupy their day, many children gather at the banks of the river to cheer on their mothers.
14-year-old Christopher Olara says the fishing has become a daily chore for most families at Acholi Bur IDP camp. He says families wake up very early and head to the river to catch fish to supplement their food needs.
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The fish sells for between one hundred and two hundred shillings, just enough to save for the next time the WFP rations do not materialize.
world food program