Author Archive

Fighting ‘Hidden Hunger’ in Uganda

Posted on Thursday, July 12th, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Women queuing for food in Nabilatuk Health Center, Karamoja, Uganda. Distributions implemented by NGOs are a way of addressing the nutrition needs in the country.

By Cormac Staunton, Area Manager Karamoja, Concern Worldwide

The rains are a mixed blessing in Karamoja. They came initially as a relief in April, having not seen rain since last November. The dust settled, and the fields and hills turned green before our eyes. It was a welcome sight in a dry landscape that had become burnt and inhospitable. People began to dig and plant their crops.

It’s tempting to see the arrival as the rains as the beginning of something good, a positive moment in the annual cycle. But in Karamoja the rains also herald the start of something more worrying—the hunger season.

Karamoja, tucked in the north east corner of Uganda, is a vast, flat plain, dry and dusty for most of the year. It is home to nomadic tribes, for whom cattle are both a source of food and wealth, and the center of the cultural and economic life. Conflict has been a feature of life here, as heavily armed warriors raid cattle from each other, a practice that is both a tradition with social and spiritual significance, and a means of survival.

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Hard Cash in Hard Times

Posted on Friday, March 11th, 2011 at 8:51 am

Women in Gokwe, Zimbabwe, show their registration cards at a cash distribution point. Photo: Elena Ruiz Roman, Zimbabwe

By Cormac Staunton, Information Officer, Concern Worldwide

Sophia Chitsatse was 65 when I met her in Nyanga, Zimbabwe, a widow looking after four orphaned grandchildren. Although she was a farmer, she struggled to grow enough food for her family to last from one harvest to another. As a result, she had been receiving food aid rations from the World Food Program (WFP) for several years.

This is the traditional response to a humanitarian crisis, to directly provide people with what they need most. It is hard to argue with the logic; if people are starving, they need food. If people’s belongings have been washed away, they need essential items like soap, cooking utensils, and clean water. Read the rest of this entry »

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Farmer Field Day, Gokwe North, Zimbabwe

Posted on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Mr Chinamo, aged 83, addresses the crowd at his farm in Gokwe North, Zimbabwe. Photo: Cormac Staunton, Concern Worldwide

I watch as Mr. Chinamo, an 83-year-old farmer from Gokwe North in central Zimbabwe, stands proudly in his field. Flanked by his wife Clara, he surveys his crop, picks up a bullhorn and begins to speak.

As many as 500 people are watching, the majority of them also farmers from the same district. This is the centerpiece of their “Field Day,” an age-old tradition in rural Zimbabwe. Read the rest of this entry »

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