Food Delays Affect School, Hospitals Attendance

1313 Views Moroto, Uganda

In short
Markson Akol Ojao, the head teacher, Moroto Municipal primary school, says some children now skip afternoon lessons due to hunger. He notes that the food situation is likely to increase school dropout rates and absenteeism.

The delayed distribution of food by World Food Program-WFP in Karamoja has taken a toll of the education and health sectors. WFP often distributes food to schools within the first two weeks of the each term.

 
However, this time around the food distribution has delayed. The delayed distribution of food has affected school attendance. Almost half of the 9, 800 registered pupils in schools in Moroto district are yet to report, two weeks after the opening of the third term. 

 
Only 155 out of the registered 536 pupils have reported at Acherer primary school in Nadunget Sub County in Moroto district. James Ebelu, the head teacher of Acherer primary school, says the absence of food has frustrated the boarding section reducing the number of pupils to only 30 children. 

 
"We have been giving children porridge with the food balances from last term but we are now stuck since it is over. We are forced to send boarders back home for supper since there's no food. Parents are not responding to contribution calls and our hands are tied," said Ebelu in an interview with URN.  
 

In Loyaraboth primary school, Tapac Sub County, only 51 children have reported since the term opened. The school with the lowest enrolment has been forced to close the boarding section due to lack of food. The situation is not unique to Loyaraboth as other schools within the district have suspended their boarding sections over food.

 
Markson Akol Ojao, the head teacher, Moroto Municipal primary school, says some children now skip afternoon lessons due to hunger. He notes that the food situation is likely to increase school dropout rates and absenteeism.


// cue in "We have…
Cue out…school dropouts"//


At Moroto Regional Referral Hospital, numbers of patients in the antenatal and immunization departments have dropped. Statistics show that whereas the hospital registers between 500-600 patients in the antenatal and immunization departments every month, only about 200 patients including 68 expectant mothers were registered last month.

 
The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says the numbers dropped as soon as food relief disappeared. The source told URN that the last food relief was delivered two months ago. World Food Program- WFP has been providing patients especially pregnant and lactating mothers, malnourished children and some vulnerable persons food stuffs like plump nut, cone soya blend, sugar and cooking oil.

 
 
The food aid has been acting as bait for mothers to come for antenatal along with their children for immunization. Christine Akot, the Moroto District LC V Vice Chairperson regrets the trends in the education and health sectors, saying it is unfortunate. She urges her colleagues to sensitize parents to provide food for their children at school.


// cue in "So the issue…
Cue out…people"//




In an August 18th, 2017, circular addressed to the seven districts of Karamoja WFP put an alert on the pipeline break for school meals programme in third term over limited resources. 



"WFP had anticipated this break and notified the Ministry of Education in a letter dated 15th, August, 2017 of the shortfalls and that WFP was unable to provide a two meal ration if the pipeline situation does not improve'' reads part of the letter signed by Muhamed Satti, Head of Karamoja WFP area office.



The circular now confirms the long anticipated withdrawal of WFP from Karamoja. The circular indicates that the food rations have been reduced by half. Food is a major contributor of children's attendance in Karamoja schools. 



Teddy Aku, the Moroto PWD Councilor, says only a few parents are willing to pack food for their children as they go to school given the little harvest realized this season.