FAO assisting war-displaced in Uganda
Seeds, tools and training to 94 000 vulnerable households
5 May 2005, Rome - FAO will provide 94 000 vulnerable households in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in northern Uganda with seeds, tools and agricultural training to help reduce their dependence on food aid.
These activities, budgeted at more than $2 million, will focus on displaced and drought-affected families with safe access to land, with particular attention given to women- and child-headed households, the elderly, and families affected by HIV/AIDS.
"These families are now almost entirely dependent on food aid," said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Emergency Coordinator for Uganda. "This assistance will allow them to improve their self-sufficiency and provide some income."
Nearly two decades of conflict
With the conflict in northern Uganda now in its 19th year, large numbers of Ugandans remain displaced and in desperate need, with an estimated 1.4 million living in IDP camps.
"Many of the displaced have access to small plots of arable land near the camps and sometimes back in their villages, when security allows," said Peterschmitt. "Short-cycle crops, such as vegetables, and fast-growing staple or high-value crops, can help produce the micronutrient supplements and increase the cash income that these vulnerable populations need."
Filling in the gaps
According to Peterschmitt, FAO is working closely with the Government and non-governmental counterparts, through monthly coordination meetings at regional and national level, to ensure that the inputs reach areas not yet covered by other humanitarian agencies.
The seeds and tools are currently under procurement, from local suppliers, where possible, for distribution in July, in time for the second rainy season in July-August.
Each household will receive around 10 to 15 kg of seeds depending on the land available around the camp or the proximity of their field of origin.
The kits will include a hoe along with improved crop and vegetable varieties specifically adapted to the agro-climatic conditions and market trends of each of the targeted areas. Whenever possible, the seeds will be distributed together with World Food Programme (WFP) food aid distributions to ensure that they are planted rather than eaten.
Prior to the distribution, farmers will be trained in appropriate agricultural practices, and demonstration plots will be set up in the camps where people can gather for further hands-on training.
Improved monitoring and evaluation methods will be used by all of FAO's implementing partners to assess and compare the impact of the distributions in the selected areas.
"If security and climatic conditions are favourable, farmers will be able to save their own seeds from this harvest for the following seasons," Peterschmitt said.
As part of a joint UN appeal for the country, FAO has requested $4.3 million for agricultural rehabilitation in Uganda in 2005.
The current assistance has been made possible with more than $1.3 million from the European Commission and over $700 000 from the Government of Sweden.
Negotiations are being finalized for funding from Switzerland to reach an additional 18 000 households with seeds and tools this season and from the United States to enable FAO to pursue its coordination efforts.
Funding is also in the pipeline for cassava multiplication and HIV/AIDS mitigation projects for implementation in the coming weeks.
Preparing future farmers
FAO, in collaboration with WFP, is thinking about the next generation of farmers as well. Some of the seeds will be used to set up school gardens to expose children to vegetable production at an early age and complement WFP's school feeding programmes in the camps.
The gardens will help improve diets and provide extra money for the schools, said Peterschmitt. To this end, FAO is developing a guide on vegetable production that will be part of the curriculum.
Information Officer, FAO
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