By Max Patrick Ocaido
MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have lauded the Office of the Prime Minister for their efforts in promoting education in Karamoja sub region through provision of food to school-going children.
Through their project dubbed “Karamoja feeds Karamoja”, Christine Guwatudde Kintu, the Permanent Secretary, OPM said that her ministry has been partnering with Uganda Prisons Service to plant, harvest and distribute food to various schools in the poverty-stricken sub region.
Guwatudde and other OPM officials were on Monday appearing with to respond to audit queries arising from budget shortfalls for year ended June 2018. The entity whose budget was shs123bn, received shs112bn, suffering a shortfall of shs10.9bn.
Guwattude told PAC that the budget shortfall has affected some of their programs especially in the education sector where they (OPM) have been constructing dormitories and kitchens for primary and secondary schools in order to keep children in school.
“The building of dormitories was affirmative action considered by OPM, after realizing that for us to keep children in school especially girls, we need to keep them in school [boarding], lest they don’t attend school. If we are to keep them [students] in dormitories then we also need kitchens,” Guwatudde said.
Kalungu West MP Joseph Sewungu who raised the concern urged OPM to double their efforts in providing food for the children in schools saying that, “children there do not go to school unless they have seen smoke coming out of the school kitchen.”
“Students are in dire state. You (OPM) have constructed kitchens and dormitories in some schools but the schoold dont have food. These kids are extremely bright, but they cannot study because they are hungry,” Ssewungu said.
Guwatudde promised to undertake more rigorous measures to boost the learning environment of children in Karamoja. She said OPM was prompted to start the “Karamoja feeds Karamoja” project after some of their donors especially USAID recently pulled out.
“We have partnered with the Uganda Prisons Service and we do a total acreage of 600 acres a year, we dig, harvest process and distribute food to the schools to add to what exists,” Guwatudde said adding that they started with 300acres.
“There is more food today than there was before because we have also sensitized the population to do crop production rather than livestock production only,” she added.
The committee lauded OPM for their efforts and urged them to come up with more sustainable programs to fight food shortage in Karamoja sub region.
“I appreciate OPM for this program [Karamoja feeds Karamoja], but what's the mode of distribution? That food is not yet enough, let the community be empowered to cultivate,” Rosemary Nauwat, Amudat Woman MP said.
Among the schools that have benefited from this program include; Moroto High School, Kiru Primary School in Abim, Kamunon Primary School in Kaabong, Alapat Primary School in Nakapiripirit, Nakwakwa Primary School in Kotido, Alerek Primary School in Abim, Kopothi Primary School in Kaabong and others.