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Can a disastrous Minister respond to a disaster?

Last evening I went home late and I missed the night news. People in my house had one thing to tell me about the news, MPs wept. I wondered what could have moved Members of Parliament to shed tears publicly in the house. I was told it was about the famine in the Eastern and Northern parts of the country. These areas have gone through years of war but haven’t seen substantial recovery programmes. This famine is a result of lack of a proper rebuilding and resettlement plans as a country and the increasing effects of climate change. It has been reported that about 35 people have died due hunger.

The Prime Minister of Uganda Apolo Nsibambi moved to console the region by calling the famine a “national catastrophe” and that the government had provided an extra Shs10 billion to buy food supplies for affected people.

But this will this government and the minister for disaster preparedness who uttered insentive words in the face of criticism continue to sit and wait for disasters?  Female MPs shed tears as they protested government indifference.

Children in Katakwi collect some vegitables. The area has been hit by famine. John Njoroge Photo

Children in Katakwi collect some vegitables. The area has been hit by famine. John Njoroge Photo

The other MPs called for Prof. Kabwegyere’s resignation. Instead of looking for a logical way to defend himself, the old Prof, known for his verbal disparage displayed arrogance in the fame of death of Ugandans saying “If I resign you think those people will not die of hunger?”  Unbelievable! The day before Kabwegyere had addressed the press together with the State Minister for Agriculture Aggrey Bagiire blaming the famine on drunkenness.

You would expect Minister Bagiire, himself an Agriculture graduate to give the nation a more convincing answer to the crop failures in the regions. Even though the government gives millions in emergency aid, these areas will continue to experience such famine in future unless they rethink agriculture production in the face of climate changes. Also people in Teso and the north must be resettled properly and there should be a lot of efforts put into agriculture production both in terms of capital but also in technical support. And Kabwegyere with his loose mouth might be after all the right person for the post of disaster response.

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