People of Karamoja

FOOD INSECURITY IN KARAMOJA, UGANDA

Karamoja is one of Uganda’s poorest regions, with income poverty at 66% and food poverty at 75%. With a largely rural population, livelihoods are based on livestock and crop production. Recent diversified livelihood activities include mining, stone quarrying, and the sale of natural resource products. Due to inadequate food access, poor dietary diversity, structural poverty, low-value livelihood options, poor hygiene and sanitation, and morbidity, the region has Uganda’s highest food insecurity and malnutrition levels. Four livelihood zones include Sorghum-Livestock, Maize-Livestock, Mixed Crop, and Apiary-Potato.

Karamojong’s way of life

Karamoja is widely reported in Ugandan and international media outlets for its impoverished populations who have resorted to holding a gun against themselves to deprive others of their property, primarily cattle. This has arguably been a traditional Karamojong way of life since the colonial periods. Several surveys and reports suggest that Karamoja remains mired in poverty and ignorance despite their participation in electoral cycles, a critical component of governance that has exposed most of its traditional leaders to parliament to continue lobbying and advocating for the region.

The betterment of Karamoja

Following the region’s disarmament and hunger, a new trend of advocacy and civilisation has emerged, mobilizing grassroots activists, human rights defenders, and other key stakeholders to speak out for the betterment of Karamoja. This is a new civic engagement opportunity yet to be exploited. The shifting tides of civic engagement have brought about a digital paradigm shift, which is critical for the Karamoja transformational agenda. Despite the region’s digital illiteracy, the rise of digital advocacy tools such as Twitter and Facebook has been emulated by Karamoja’s elites who can afford smartphones.

The issues of Karamoja require more voices from within and outside the region to spark a ray of hope for the most impoverished society entangled in all sorts of socioeconomic aspects of life. As a result, the “Karamoja Converse Series” was born, a digital advocacy platform that could be used to tell its own Karamoja stories. The community needs something like this to own and share painful stories and design approaches to reopen the leadership gaps that are widely regarded as the root cause of the Karamoja issues.

Conclusion

Karamoja requires a digital space in which to air its grievances. Everyone in the region appears to be living in the hope of burying a relative or neighbour who may have died from a lack of food. These livelihood case scenarios underpin Uganda’s political rhetoric about its middle-income status.

Charles Donaldson.Ogura

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