Karamoja: Day Five

DAY 5:
“According to the observations made by the Sweet Sleep staff during the 4 days while working with the indigenous partner organization together with the Community Development Centre team, the problem of poor sleeping conditions indeed exists among the children in the various families and boarding schools within Karamoja region.

Karamoja is characterized by generally low rainfall distribution, reliability and soil fertility. The region has only one rainy season and experiences cyclical droughts and erratic rainfall which have affected crop production and pasture for livestock hence having a direct negative effect on the live hood of the population. The region suffers from high levels of illiteracy, poverty, poor infrastructure and there are reported cases of malaria among children due to a lot of mosquitoes that were observed during the nights.

Given the above factors, many homesteads lack the capacity to provide beds and beddings for their children as a result of low economic activities within the region coupled with strong cultural ties.
Most of the various communities that Sweet Sleep reached during day 5 and within the previous days, it was observed that the kind of  huts “Manyatas” that serve as houses for the Karamojong are indeed very small when compared to those huts built in other parts of the Northern region like Gulu and are widely sparsely populated. In these huts, many of the children were found to be sleeping on dried animal skins without blankets and treated mosquito nets to cover themselves.

On the side of the existing Boarding schools in the region, the sleeping conditions among the children is not any better as they are greatly populated with many children sharing beds with small mattresses on them while others are sleeping down on mats which are also shared.

Among the schools that Sweet Sleep was able to reach are Kangole Boys, Kangole girls and Kapwachi Primary School all located in Napak District and Moroto Municipal Council primary school in Moroto district. These are all Government schools whereby the kinds of children within these schools are orphaned, neglected/abandoned, returnees or vulnerable. The children are either being supported by individuals or different Organizations such as the indigenous partner organization that help them by paying their school fees and meeting part of their scholastic materials.

In addition to the above schools, Sweet Sleep staff was also able to reach to one of the only orphanage home within this region called “Charity Sister’s Mission Home for the Poor”. The is home under the Catholic Nuns who are taking care of the 38 total orphans with good sleeping conditions and only lacked mosquito nets at the moment.

With the problem of poor sleeping conditions being at the extreme in most of the schools within the Karamoja region, UNICEF tried to provide some bunker beds, mattresses, blankets and bed sheets to only those schools that are organized and with good permanent structures within the region.

In spite of the efforts made by UNICEF, the problem of poor sleeping conditions is still very prevalent especially among the children in the local communities and in schools. The problem is further widened and contributed by the existence of the following challenges within Karamoja region:
  •     Highest levels of poverty among the people within the region that forces the local people to sell off any kind of material support that may be provided.
  •     High levels of illiteracy among the population of Karamoja region
  •     The strong culture beliefs existing among some sectors of the population in Karamoja region
  •     Lack of proper infrastructures like roads linking to various communities
  •     Hostility of some sectors of the population within the region whereby some tribes tend to be aggressive especially when their expectations are not highly satisfied. In other words, the hostile sectors of the population may sometimes ask for a lot of support.
  •     The rainy season usually causes a lot of floods hence making many roads almost impassable. 
Therefore, to address the problem of poor sleeping conditions and to expand its work in this region, Sweet Sleep has to so much establish a strong networking mechanism with other key stakeholders dealing with children focused programmes within the Karamoja region.
Among the key organizations that are operating within the Karamoja region and were approached by the Sweet Sleep staff in the light of establishing a possible working relationship were:
  •      Community Development Centre
  •    the partner organization
  •       Save the Children
  •      UNICEF
  •       Moroto Probation Office

For all the above mentioned organizations, they are in position to deliver the Sweet Sleep items from one storage point in Karamoja to the distribution centres.”