Hey folks, hope you’re having a relaxing weekend. My father called me this afternoon and told me the sun has actually come back to New York- no more rain, at least for today. So if you’re in New York, I hope you get a moment to enjoy a glimpse of sunlight.
We’ve had the opposite problem on this side of the equator- the rainy season was dangerously dry, plunging parts of Uganda into famine. There is little social protection for most farmers here, even though the overwhelming majority of Ugandans are subsistence farmers. In the north and east, many people have been surviving by eating millet porridge for breakfast, and mangoes for the rest of the meals. In some communities, people have had to send their children to forage all day for “greens,” or plants that can be crushed and put into tea for a tiny bit of energy, since their crops failed, and they don’t have enough money to buy food.
Here’s some good local coverage of the famine by journalists Evelyn Lirri and Warom Felix Okello.
When I was in northern Uganda last weekend, people described the problem as “too much sunshine.” Or, as my friend Patrick said, ”the problem we are having is a problem of sunshine.” Meanwhile, in Kampala, both the urban poor, middle and upper class are suffering from a health crisis caused by a major increase in obesity. Part of the problem is that many people in Kampala struggled to get proper nutrition as a child, and their bodies are locked into an almost permanent starvation mode, afraid of going hungry again. When their incomes stabilize and they join the middle or upper class, their bodies can’t handle the diet, and have a difficult time burning the calories.
If you have a free moment, check out the coverage from Frederick Womakuyu and Richard Wetaya (New Vision) on how a shift in the diet from traditional Ugandan foods to packaged and fast food has caused a spike in diabetes and heart diabetes. The graphic is amusing!
Here is a brief news story by UPI on famine in Uganda:
Famine threatens parts of Uganda
“Food exports to Southern Sudan are having a big impact on the food security of the country,” Amuriat said Thursday. “Peasants are attracted by the good prices in Sudan to sell off whatever food production there is and they remain with nothing to eat.”
Tarsis Kabwegyere, the Ugandan disaster preparedness minister, said the government has set aside $5 million to buy emergency food supplies. Martin Owor, who works on emergency management in the prime minister’s office, said recent weather has been difficult for Ugandan farmers.