The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have announced plans to conduct a three-year joint programme in north-eastern Uganda to combat food insecurity and improve residents’ nutrition. In an agreement signed yesterday in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, the three UN agencies formalized their partnership to provide help in three districts in the northeast: Abim, Kaberamaido and Kotido. The project – funded by UNICEF and Belgium and expected to cost $6.1 million – will include preventative health activities for families, awareness-raising exercises on nutrition and efforts to increase family income and access to food. UNICEF’s representative in Uganda, Keith McKenzie, said the combination of joint resources, expertise and commitment would be one of the greatest benefits of the project. “We are encouraged by such a unity of purpose being brought to bear to some of the most marginalized and disadvantaged communities in Uganda, and remain committed to enabling these families to secure their own nutrition needs, particularly in the face of harsh, cyclic climactic conditions,” he said. WFP representative Tesema Negash stressed the importance of promoting self-sufficiency in the country’s northeast, where the people “have lagged behind too long.” FAO representative Percy Misika said his organization would draw from its experience in carrying out community-based programmes in helping farmers. The northeast has been plagued by insecurity since the long-running civil war between the Ugandan Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) began in the mid-1980s. The area is also troubled by the proliferation of illegal firearms, widespread cattle rustling, looting and ambushes. Late last year a Government disarmament campaign led to the deaths of at least 55 civilians and prompted UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour to urge Kampala to review its strategy. 9 February 2007The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have announced plans to conduct a three-year joint programme in north-eastern Uganda to combat food insecurity and improve residents’ nutrition.