WFP food aid cuts leave Uganda refugees to rely on kitchen gardens

Thursday April 06 2023
Uganda refugees

People who fled fighting in South Sudan on December 7, 2016 are seen walking at sunset on arrival at Bidi Bidi refugee camp in Yumbe district, Northern Uganda. PHOTO | JAMES AKENA | REUTERS


Watering the neat lines of green salad leaves outside her thatched home, a South Sudanese Susan Konga living in a refugee camp in Northern Uganda is preparing her kitchen garden for the next harvest.

This year the success of her tireless cultivation will be put to the test - complete self-sufficiency.

Global crises like the war in Ukraine, the earthquake in Turkey and the drought in East Africa mean there's less food aid for people like Konga.

Read: More hunger pangs in Horn of Africa

WFP cuts foods supply

A 50 percent shortfall in funds this year has forced the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to cut off the food supply for hundreds of thousands of refugees in Uganda, which hosts more than any other country in Africa.


After six years in Uganda, Konga a single mother, must now rely entirely on the maize, cassava and salad leaves grown in her small vegetable patch.

uganda food

Farm produce in Uganda. PHOTO | NMG

“The change in policy will make it difficult for me to adjust,” she said.

Konga worries she will not be able to grow enough surplus produce to sell to pay for her two nieces' school fees and other basic household supplies like soap.

"For me to become sustainable, it will take me more than three years because now I don't have enough land. If I'm not supported, I can't stand on my own," she said.

WFP says vulnerable refugees such as new arrivals including the sick and elderly, will continue to receive emergency food aid but the organisation's $180 million funding shortfall means others will have to be weaned off it.

"Donors are having to make very difficult decisions because the needs are enormous globally," WFP Uganda Director Marcus Prior said.

Konga said the rains have been good so far, but she will struggle to survive the periods between harvests.

"We are not yet stable. I plead to them to at least give us food so we can plan for what to do," she added.