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Milk matters in Karamoja

Milk matters in Karamoja

By Elizabeth Stites and Emily Mitchard
Published by Feinstein International Center
2011, 40pp, free to download

The supply of milk within households in Karamoja, Uganda, has been declining due to loss of livestock, poor animal health, the engagement of the military and shifts in livelihoods. According to Milk matters in Karamoja, this has affected livelihoods, food security and the nature of market exchanges, but the greatest impact has been on the diets and nutrition of young children. "The absence of milk in households represents the loss of a way of life, anger with political and military systems, and desperation among parents seeking ways to provide for their children," the authors write.

While the proportion being allocated to young children increased, the total amount of milk in children's diets has dropped dramatically. "Respondents in all locations were clear as to the negative health and nutritional impacts of the loss of milk in the diets of their children," the authors state. Decreasing amounts of milk available to share with others could also have negative implications for the social networks of reciprocity that assist communities in managing vulnerability over time, the authors warn.

Milk matters in Karamoja explains that although households have shifted livelihood strategies to improve food security and lessen vulnerability - by increasing engagement in casual labour, selling livestock, shifting to crop farming - these adaptations have been insufficient to counter recent shocks. Restocking projects could also increase vulnerability to raids, while programmes focusing on fodder support would require national policies and funds.

By working at multiple levels to improve the policy, economic and security environment in the region, the book states that external actors should be able to improve child nutrition and the sustainability of livelihoods. Some of the interventions the book calls for include school feeding, accessible schools, community animal health workers, emergency nutritional interventions and improving markets access. "This will require political will, continued efforts to promote national policy change and programming that focuses on longer term and incremental improvements," the authors conclude.

Date published: December 2011

 

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