KOTIDO– A major programme to improve the delivery of quality nutrition services across Karamoja has been launched today in Kotido district.
Termed as the Karamoja Nutrition Programme, the three-year programme is funded by UK aid and implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Programme.
Mr John Byabagambi, the minister for Karamoja said the programme is intended to strengthen the Government’s health system to ensure children and mothers across the region receive high-quality health and nutrition services and are better nourished.
This comes at the time when statistics from UBOs indicate that 84 percent of people in Karamoja are unable to afford a nutritious daily diet, 45 percent of households are having limited access to food and over half of all households are not having much diversity in their diet.
The UBOs report 2017 adds that malnutrition is a major impediment to Karamoja’s development, undermining the health and economic prospects of the population adding that although child stunting has reduced by roughly one percent every year in Karamoja since 2006, 35 percent of all children under the age of 5 in Karamoja still stunted.
Mr Byabagambi while officiating at the launch of the programme said Uganda was grateful to the Government of the United Kingdom for investing approximately Shs134.3 billion [£28 million] in Karamoja.
“It is now important for all leaders at the central and local government levels to own the changes that this new programme will bring to the health system in Karamoja, and ensure that we sustain them over the long term,” said Mr Byabagambi.
Ms Francesca Stidston, the Head of Office for the Department for International Development (DFID) in Uganda said the programme will support all district Local Governments in Karamoja to: develop the skills of nutritionists and health workers; improve the treatment of severe acute malnutrition in hospitals and health centres; generate evidence to improve the design of nutrition services; procure and manage quality nutrition supplies; and provide more effective nutrition leadership and coordination across all Government departments and partners.
“Working to strengthen the Government’s health system, with strong district leadership and engagement, presents an opportunity for Karamoja to address its malnutrition challenge,” said Ms Stidston.
“The UK government is therefore pleased to launch the Karamoja Nutrition Programme which, along with our support to the prevention and control of malaria in the region, will contribute to improving the health and nutrition outcomes for the people of Karamoja,” added Ms Stidston.
Dr. Doreen Mulenga, UNICEF’s Representative in Uganda said considering more than 1 in 3 children in Karamoja experience stunted development due to malnutrition, the new programme is timely and that it will ensure that children access higher quality nutrition services, which are essential to their survival and healthy development.
The Karamoja Nutrition Programme will support: over 100,000 malnourished children under the age of 5 with a community based supplementary feeding programme, about 15,000 severely malnourished children with specialized treatment in hospitals and health centres, another 140,000 children will receive Vitamin A supplements and de-worming medication twice a year and around 70,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women with iron folic acid supplements to treat anaemia.
Mr El-Khidir Daloum. WFP’s Country Director said the Karamoja Nutrition Programme is a continuation of the Government of Uganda and development partners’ march to end child stunting in Uganda.
“We are outraged by the level of stunting in Karamoja, which remains unacceptably high and ending stunting is mission possible,” Mr Daloum said.
The leadership of the districts of Abim, Amudat, Kaabong, Kotido, Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit and Nabilatuk – as well as leaders from the Ministry of Karamoja Affairs, committed to ensure that all pillars of the programme are fully integrated within the health sector and are effectively planned and budgeted for after the programme ends in three years.
The Karamoja Nutrition Programme compliments other programmes in Karamoja, such as the Karamoja Resilience Support Unit supported by USAID, Irish Aid, and UK aid and GIZ’s programme to improve the reliability of water supply and sanitation in selected health centres, which collectively contribute to a comprehensive multi-sectoral nutrition response to all people across Karamoja.