Fr John Bosco Lowany Etapar's parish in northern Uganda has always been lucky. In an area noted for drought and famine, and only a few miles from two hostile borders with South Sudan and Kenya, the parish has been fortunate with its crops. As Fr John puts it, it was one of the few places in the Karamoja area in the extreme north of the country "worthy of the name food basket".
But that has all changed. Heavy rains last wet season affected the crops badly and a six-week dry spell that followed did further damage. To make matters worse, wild animals from the nearby Kidepo Valley National Park, roaming in search of scarce food, ate the few crops that had survived.
So, the parish is asking for aid to buy maize, beans and cooking oil "for some of our parishioners who are severely hit by starvation". The area covered by the parish, centred on the church of St Catherine of Siena, has a population of 61,320, 91 per cent of them subsistence farmers and 81 per cent Catholics.
Fr John appealed to the British charity SPICMA (Special Projects in Christian Missionary Areas), saying that "SPICMA can't feed the entire Karamoja" but it can help families with a sick or disabled member, those taking care of the elderly, orphans and those whose food supplies were destroyed by foraging animals. A few years ago Fr John Bosco was photographed in front of beehives which SPICMA helped to fund to provide some income for his parish, but more help is needed now.
SPICMA has sent £40,000 to the parish and £18,000 each to two neighbouring parishes, Loyoro and Panyangara. It is hoping to raise as much again as it expects the need to grow over the coming months.
To donate to parishes in Karamoja see:
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