Rebuking the Karamoja Crisis and Conflict. The Karamoja sub-region of Northeastern Uganda is among the most marginalised communities in Uganda. For decades, it has suffered with unending conflict and insecurity, alongside stunted socio-economic growth. Pastoralism is the way of life with a pre-determined subsistence economy.
Cattle-rustling is a common practice in the region by those who chose the violence means to survive while others have flooded the streets of urban centres in the country.
Most visible and well-documented violence in Karamoja occurs among ethnic groups during cattle raiding.
The effects of such violence include death, injury, displacement, marginalisation and disruption of economic and social activities affecting more the children, women and the elderly hence causing food and income security. Tensions have been caused by the proliferation of small arms in the region over the years.
The recent disarmament attempts by the Ugandan army (Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF)) seem to have aggravated existing insecurity and there have also been reports of communal punishments fuelling the conflict between communities in the areas of moruitit and Nabilatuk. The acts have been a core in the tracking of stolen cattle and making this criminal act risky to the actors has been completely ignored by the authorities escalating the criminality.
Government should construct security roads to ease the movement of the national forces as well as improvement of communication between communities and the districts to enhance socio-economic activities e.g. a ring road around Mt. Moroto, Kalapata-Pire-South Sudan, Moroto-Loyoro, Amudat-Loroo, Moroto-Kobebe-Kalosarich and in Ik county kaabong-Timu Loitanit-Nalapatui to Southern Sudan is necessary.
Peace and Development are two sides of the same coin. There can be no development without peace and there can be no peace without development. Government interventions have not been strategic to address the challenge.
For example; Planning for Karamoja should include all local leaders (Formal and Informal) for inclusiveness and meetings should also be held in the Karamoja region to emphasize(Local Content).
National Planning Authority (NPA), in consultation with all key stakeholders, should develop a comprehensive Karamoja Regional Development Plan.
Karamoja has lived with the gun since 1874 (Triangle trade). Unfortunately, today’s economy is no longer a gun economy but rather a cash economy. There’s a need to invest resources in integrating the Karamojong people into the cash economy.
Development in Karamoja must be enforced with a focus on value addition in the ATMs (Agriculture, Tourism and Minerals) sector for job creation to avert insecurity, break the cycle of recruitment of children into warrior-hood, a free and compulsory Primary Boarding School per Parish and a Secondary Boarding School per sub-county should be established in Karamoja as a mitigation measure to boost education targeting mindset change.
The region receives an average of 800mm amount of rainfall per annum, unfortunately, it is not distributed across the year. Government should prioritize bulk-water trapping, bulk-water supply and bulk-water transfers for massive production in the whole region.
The Ministry for Karamoja affairs should play a clear role in coordinating interventions of other ministries and other government agencies in the region to avoid budget duplications. Karamojongs understand solutions to this challenge compared to others. I request the H.E to consider a Karamojong for this ministry.
Chero Emmanuel Atirok
Chairman Karamoja youth agenda (Vision 2040)