In the Bubwe village of Uganda, chronic poverty and a shortage of land for farming have combined to create a vicious cycle of hunger and food insecurity for families like Alfred, Agnes, and their children.
Raymond Jakisa, 3, picks up a vegetable leaf that had dropped on his arm. Then he runs his fingers across the bottom of his dish to get the last of the sauce. Just to be sure that nothing remains, Raymond lifts the bowl to his mouth and waits patiently for the last drop to hit his tongue.
Although the meal is over, Raymond’s hunger is not satisfied. A ball of cassava bread and a small bowl of vegetables was simply not enough for him, his 2-year-old sister, Angel Esther, and their parents.
“Even if it is little food, that is what we could afford for supper,” says Raymond’s mother, Agnes Oyeny, 22.
Raymond’s father, 25-year-old Uchaka Alfred, agrees. “Unless I and my wife go and work in the neighbors’ gardens, or I go fish on Lake Albert, then we shall not have food,” he says. “We mostly weed other people’s crops, such as cassava, maize, and beans, but we also clear bushes and break the ground.”
Alfred says that the little money they earn is used to buy fresh cassava and beans. When he fishes on the lake, he often does so by risking his own life.
“One day last year, we almost drowned in a storm; another day, a hippo nearly killed us,” he remembers. Alfred knows of two fishermen killed by a hippo and two more who drowned in a storm in 2012.
“At times in a day, we eat only once,” he explains. “If we eat lunch, we have no supper. If we miss lunch, we will eat supper. Rarely do we eat both lunch and supper.”
Agnes chimes in: “When we eat once a day, we give the children at least porridge or a small portion of food.”
The lack of food in this family’s home is evident in the cold fireplace and lack of a granary, where dry food stuffs are stored in the African homestead. The granary is the symbol of food security in rural Africa.
“We cannot have enough food because we don’t have land to cultivate,” Alfred explains. “We only have where our three huts are standing. We can cultivate on only one side of the huts.”
Alfred had been growing crops on the land of his late uncle Alex Komakech until last December, when Alex’s son stopped him. “My cousin Moses told me that I should leave cultivating his land, [because] he also needs it,” Alfred recalls.
The tension over land between Alfred and Moses was never resolved. Alfred continues to face problems acquiring enough land to farm for his family. Opio Jenario, 51, the village chief in Bubwe, says over 20 other families in the area are facing a similar predicament.
“Acquiring land is becoming a problem as the population increases and people commercialize land,” says Opio. “You have to rent or buy land.”
This reality isn’t lost on Alfred. “If God could help me get some money, I would rent or better still, buy land,” he says.
World Vision is working to address the food security problems in this area of Uganda. The Bullisa development program was started in 2011, and earlier this year, staff members distributed improved varieties of maize, bean, and groundnut seeds to 1,500 families to improve nutrition.
Additionally, World Vision has conducted training for about 140 community members on issues of food production and land ownership — two primary challenges that are fueling the region’s struggles with hunger.
In the meantime, much work remains to be done for families like Alfred, his wife, and his children, who live day to day not knowing how often — or even whether — they’ll be able to eat.
World Food Day is October 16. World Vision remains committed to promoting food security in communities where hunger and malnutrition threaten lives and keep families in poverty.
Read more about our work with food security and agricultural assistance around the world.
Please pray for children like Raymond who suffer from hunger, and for parents like Alfred and Agnes who struggle to provide for their children. Pray for a long-term solution to food insecurity in places like Bubwe, Uganda.
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