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August 04, 2011

Ugandan farmers count losses after drought devastation

by Joseph Elunya

The prolonged drought which has lasted since March has destroyed 7000 acres of maize plantations in Bulambuli - the food basket of eastern Uganda. The drought has left 500 families in Bulambuli district with nothing to eat.

“We planted maize in March for the new season but the rain immediately disappeared and the maize just got stunted in the gardens. Now our hope of getting food for this year’s harvest season has faded because the whole plantation has been destroyed by the sun,” remarked Sophia Mwangusho a mother of five children from Bunambera village who said she did not know how she will feed her children until next year’s harvest.

Michael Kimat the area local council leader, says that the drought which has hit the area is the worst he has seen in the 40 years he has spent in the affected area.

88-year-old Tindya Damascus narrowly survived death after he was rescued by good Samaritans who found him unconscious in his mud and wattle hut where he had spent a week without eating. Tindya, who is now recovering, explains that he was abandoned by his five children who crossed over the border to Kenya to look for something to eat.

“I have five children, three boys and two girls but they left home and went to Kenya as a result of famine leaving me behind. I have nothing to eat because I used to survive on growing maize to make a living and for food,” said Tindyae.

Michael Kimat, a local leader, claims the government has abandoned them. He explains that the visit made last week by the Ugandan State Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Relief Musa Ecweru to the area is inconsequential since he came with very little food.

Kimat says government should consider irrigating the place. “You can see rivers from Mount Elgon that pass close to the farms but the water cannot be tapped yet maize is drying in the gardens. The government should do something to make sure this place continues being the food basket for eastern Uganda.” A frustrated Kimat faults the government for doing very little to modernise agricultural practices in the country.

Musa Ecweru the Ugandan Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees says the government is negotiating with the development partners to offer relief to the affected farmers.

Radio Netherlands Africa

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