KAMPALA, The Chinese government has donated more than 5,900 tonnes of rice to Ugandan after the East African country warned of food insecurity amidst a prolonged dry spell.

Zheng Zhuqiang, the Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, said Tuesday that China had been concerned about the poor harvest in many African countries, including Uganda.

"I believe that with the effort of the Ugandan government, all these donated food will be distributed to the people very soon," he said.

According to a new report, entitled National Food Security Assessment, launched by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, 26 per cent of Uganda's population is facing stressed food insecurity, meaning they just have enough food and are unable to afford some essential food expenditures.

It also showed that 10.9 million people in the country are experiencing acute food insecurity, of whom 1.6 million are in a crisis situation.

"Food security across the country is deteriorating. The current food insecurity situation, when compared with the last two reports of November 2015 and July 2016, shows an increase in the percentage of the country's population which is in Phase 2 (stress level of food security)," the report said.

It said the increasing demand for food in external markets and the influx of South Sudanese refugees into Uganda have worsened the situation.

Rugunda extended his gratitude to the Chinese government for the humanitarian support and said his government had earmarked 25 billion shillings (7.1 million US dollars) to purchase relief food for the food-stressed population.

The rice donation to Uganda is part of the humanitarian relief China has been donating to Africa. China in December 2015 promised to provide 1.0 billion yuan (about 150 million USD) worth of emergency food aid to African countries affected by poor harvests caused by the El Nino-induced drought.

Last year, China donated rice worth 24.6 million USD to Zimbabwe to help alleviate hunger after a drought left up to four million people there in need of relief food. Donations have also been made to Malawi, Mozambique and South Sudan to help the countries cope with drought.

China over the years has provided agricultural aid to Uganda especially in the rice sector which has helped the country become a major rice producer in Africa.



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