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Depth Over Breadth: Our Commitment to Karamoja, Uganda

Updated: Feb 25

LIOR SPERANDEO - Shanita Karamoja Uganda

One common question we often receive at SHANITA is, "When will you start working in a new country?" It's a question that reflects the eagerness to expand our reach and address pressing issues in different parts of the world. However, we are actually very proud to be an organization that prioritizes deepening its impact rather than spreading it thin across multiple regions.

LIOR SPERANDEO - Dry Season in Karamoja Uganda

Instead of stretching ourselves thin across multiple countries, we have chosen to deepen our impact where we are most needed: Karamoja.

LIOR SPERANDEO - A village in Karamoja Uganda

Nestled in the northeastern corner of Uganda, Karamoja is a region known for its breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and resilient communities.

Yet, beneath its surface lies a complex tapestry of challenges, including extreme poverty, food insecurity, and limited access to basic services.

LIOR SPERANDEO - A village in Karamoja Uganda

Historically marginalized and often overlooked, the people of Karamoja have faced decades of neglect and systemic barriers that have hindered their development and perpetuated cycles of poverty.

For centuries, the resilient people of Karamoja have relied on traditional livelihoods, particularly pastoralism, to support themselves and their communities. Living in harmony with the land, they have sustained themselves through diets rich in milk and blood, supplemented by wild fruits and drought-resistant grains.

However, changing environmental conditions and recurring droughts have posed significant challenges to their way of life, exacerbating poverty and food insecurity.

Despite these formidable obstacles, the resilience and spirit of the Karamojong people shine through. Their deep connection to the land, strong sense of community, and rich cultural heritage are sources of strength and inspiration, driving them to overcome adversity and build a better future for themselves and future generations.

LIOR SPERANDEO - Shanita Karamoja Uganda

One of the most pressing issues in Karamoja today is malnutrition, which poses a significant threat to the health and survival of children in the region.

According to recent statistics, nearly 40% of children under the age of five in Karamoja are chronically malnourished, with many suffering from stunted growth and developmental delays as a result.

LIOR SPERANDEO - Child in Karamoja Uganda

Malnutrition is often exacerbated by food insecurity, which is a persistent challenge in Karamoja due to erratic rainfall patterns, land degradation, and limited access to markets. Approximately 65% of households in the region experience food insecurity, with families struggling to access an adequate and nutritious diet on a regular basis.

As a result, children are at increased risk of malnutrition and its associated health consequences, including impaired cognitive development and weakened immune systems.

LIOR SPERANDEO - Malnutrition Karamoja Uganda

In addition to malnutrition, access to clean water is a critical challenge, particularly in rural villages across Karamoja. Many communities in the region face significant obstacles in accessing safe and reliable water sources for drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes.

Erratic rainfall patterns and prolonged droughts exacerbate water scarcity in Karamoja, leading to dwindling water supplies and increased competition for limited resources. As a result, families often have to travel long distances to fetch water, sometimes spending hours each day to meet their basic needs.

Moreover, the quality of available water sources is often compromised, with many communities relying on unprotected wells, ponds, or streams that may be contaminated with bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens. This lack of access to clean water contributes to the spread of waterborne diseases and poses significant health risks, particularly for children and vulnerable populations.

LIOR SPERANDEO - Karamoja Uganda

Over the years, there has been some incremental progress in addressing challenges like malnutrition and access to clean water in Karamoja. However, education remains a critical concern. Despite efforts to improve school enrolment rates in recent years, the region still lags behind the national average, with only 38% of children attending primary school. One of the primary challenges is the lack of adequate infrastructure and resources in rural areas, including a shortage of classrooms, trained teachers, and educational materials.

As a result, students often have to travel long distances to attend school, and overcrowded classrooms hinder effective learning. Moreover, cultural factors and socio-economic disparities also contribute to low school enrollment and high dropout rates, particularly among girls and marginalized communities. Traditional beliefs and practices, such as early marriage and child labor, can prevent children, especially girls, from attending school regularly and completing their education.

Furthermore, the quality of education is often compromised due to a lack of teacher training and professional development opportunities. Many teachers in Karamoja are unqualified or underqualified, leading to ineffective teaching practices and limited learning outcomes for students.

This not only affects learning outcomes but also perpetuates cycles of poverty and inequality, as children from disadvantaged backgrounds are unable to access the education they need to thrive and break the cycle of poverty.

LIOR SPERANDEO - Children Karamoja Uganda

Finding Hope in Karamoja

For decades, the challenges in Karamoja have attracted humanitarian organizations seeking to alleviate the region's hardships. While some efforts have made positive strides, others have inadvertently perpetuated cycles of dependency, exacerbating the entrenched issues of poverty. Often, there's been a reliance on external aid, fostering a sense of helplessness among local communities.

In contrast, Shanita adopts a different strategy.

Rather than assuming the role of external saviors, we collaborate with the resilient individuals who have already triumphed over poverty in their personal lives.

Shanita in Karamoja Uganda

Our approach focuses on empowering them with the tools and resources necessary to enact sustainable change within their communities. Teachers, Social Workers, Caretakers, Nurses and more: We stand not in front of them, but alongside them, offering unwavering support and guidance as they lead the charge toward a brighter future.

Shanita in class in Moroto Karamoja

By working hand in hand with local communities we are committed to empowering the people of Karamoja to unlock their full potential and create lasting change from within.

While expanding our operations to new countries may seem like an attractive option, we recognize the importance of fully immersing ourselves in the communities we serve and by focusing our resources and expertise in Karamoja, where we can develop deeper connections, gain a nuanced understanding of local needs, and tailor our interventions to have maximum impact as the ripple effects of positive change extend far beyond its borders.

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