Food security early warning systems in Karamoja: a case of Kotido District from 2009-2011
Obonyo, Jimmy Francis
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Karamoja sub-region suffers from chronic food insecurity. Food insecurity results from both natural and human causes. One in three years the sub-region suffers massive crop failures and since 2009 several food security early systems have been established in the sub-region however they have not been comprehensively and empirically studied. Against this backdrop, this study focused on approaches to food security early warning systems and people´s coping strategies to food insecurity in Kotido district. The study employed a case study research design and used mainly qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. 150 study participants were selected and studied using purposive and convenient sampling techniques. The study participants were studied using in-depth interviews and Focus Group Discussion. The collected data were augmented using data collected through participant observation and documentary review. The study was conducted from April 21 to May 28, 2011. The study findings revealed two broad approaches of food security early warning systems namely formal and informal approaches. Informal early warning indicators included; giving births of many males by both human beings and animals pedicts food insecurity while births of many females by both human beings and animals pedicts food security; When river Lopworokocha in Panyangara in Kotido get flooded with first rain of planting season predicts food security etc. On the other hand, Formal early warning indicators included weather forecast; integrated nutritional surveillance systems etc. The study found that there is no crossbreed between the formal and informal approach. Thus the two approaches do not complement each other. The local people prefer informal approach while district technocrats prefer formal approach because of uncertainty in each of approaches. This has led to inadequate responses to early warnings by both stakeholders hence continuous food insecurity in Kotido district. People´s coping strategies include reduced food consumption; charcoal and firehood sales; sales of livestocks etc. The study concluded that since 2009 there have been upsurge in formal food security early warning systems. This development was a step forward in addressing food insecurity in Kotido. However, the systems have been affected by limited funding, delay in release of monthly warnings etc. The study recommended for establishment of a centralize early warning systems unit for both formal and informal food security early warning systems; crossbreed of the two early warning approaches.