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How refugees in Adjumani are fighting malnutrition

(Last Updated On: 12 October 2023)

Adjumani I A number of refugees have abandoned their settlements to settle among the nationals to find land for growing nutritious food that will help fight malnutrition.

According to data obtained from the International Rescue Community (IRC), there were close to 6,300 acute malnutrition cases treated in 2021, while in 2022, the figure rose to more than 9,300, with the majority of cases being children and women.

In the first quarter of 2023 alone, over 2,000 cases have already been recorded, indicating a worrying trend.

Fatuma Minzi, a refugee from Pagirinya refugee settlement, Dzaipi sub-county in Adjumani district who left her home country South Sudan in 2016 at the climax of the civil war with her 12 children and has been depending on one meal, they are now able to afford three meals in a day.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, Minzi said she decided to leave the settlement and settled among the members of the host community. In 2022, she joined one of the groups that was formed by Action Against Hunger (ACF) under the Right to Grow Project.

“When we came, we were getting enough food that would take us until the next round of getting food ratio, when things went bad after COVID-19, life became hard, and we would only take porridge and other meals in the evening. After joining the group, I managed to plant cassava, sim-sim, and now I can get three meals in a day,” Minzi said.

Regina Yangi, 51, is a refugee from the Maaji III refugee settlement. She fled South Sudan in 2016. For close to five years she did not have access to land but she has been renting expensively.

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Yangi said she is beginning to see hope as she is engaged in a communal cassava growing project supported by a non-governmental organization.

After the intervention of the different NGOs with the concept of communal farming that brings together refugees and host communities, she said access to land and the relationship with the host communities has improved and she no longer rents land.

“We have done some market research, from the cassava and the cassava stocks next year, we estimate to get close to shs90m, this will help us expand and open more land,” Yangi said.

The Right to Grow Project is a Consortium Project funded by the Dutch government to reduce undernutrition in Uganda, especially child stunting.

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James Vuciri Logwenya, the agriculture officer for Dzaipi sub-county lauded the project, saying that since the project started, it has helped to improve the stunting and malnutrition cases in the region.

“We started the project of Right to Grow last year, I rightly observed that in some places the project is doing well. Communities are participating but in other places, the communities are not really taking the ownership,” Vuciri said.

“If others are asking for irrigation, that is true. They can be supported because we have a lot of challenges of dry spells whenever we plant and open land,” he added.

Mariam Akiror who doubles as the program manager of the Right to Grow Project as well as the advocacy and strategic partnership coordinator at Action Against Hunger said: “Under the Right to Grow Project in Action Against Hunger, we are running an advocacy comparing on communal production, consumption and marketing of nutrition food crops for improved health, nutrition resilience and self-reliance.

“We are promoting nutrient-dense food crops, orange fresh sweet potatoes, maize, rice, cassava, and other nutritious staple crops like Simsim,” she further explained.

Also read:Over 20 million hungry as AU misses targets in “Year of Nutrition”

She stressed that this is being done jointly with local authorities who mobilize, monitor and supervise farmer groups.

According to the Integrated Food Security Classification (IPC) report of 2022, in the 13 refugee settlements and 12 hosting districts analysed, around 104,440 children were and will likely be acutely malnourished between February 2022 and January 2023, including around 16,540 children severely malnourished and need treatment.

Furthermore, around 12,850 pregnant or lactating women were and will likely be acutely malnourished and in need of treatment.

In the refugee settlements, one district – Adjumani was classified in IPC Phase 3 (Serious), and six districts: Yumbe, Terego, Lamwo, Obobgi, Rhino Camp and Kiryandongo were classified in IPC Phase 2 (Alert), while the rest were classified in IPC Phase 1 (Acceptable) between February and July 2022.

During the projection period (August 2022 – January 2023), Adjumani was expected to improve to IPC Phase 2. The refugee hosting districts were classified in IPC Phase 1 in both periods.

The Right to Grow Project is a consortium project funded by the Dutch government to reduce undernutrition in Uganda, especially child stunting. The project is implemented by the Hunger Project Uganda (THP), World Vision Uganda and Action Against Hunger Uganda with technical support of CEGAA as strategic partners.

The project works closely with National CSO partners like the Food Rights Alliance, Nutrition Society of Uganda, Community Integrated Development Initiative and Movement for Community Led Development Uganda Chapter.

The project is being implemented in 10 districts of Kamwenge, Buliisa, Kakumiro, Adjumani, Yumbe; Kikuube, Nwoya, Maracha; Bugweri and Kabale.

By Marko Taibot & Barbra Anyait

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