Nakasongola Pastoralists Irked by Delay to Operationalise Excavator

2887 Views Nakasongola, Uganda

In short
Pastoralists in Nakasongola district are always hit hard by drought and at least 3000 heads of cattle die per year as result of lack of access to water according to district Veterinary reports. The district also has over 254,000 heads of cattle.

More than 250 pastoralists and local leaders in Nakasongola are protesting the delay to operationalise an excavator donated by Ministry of Water and Environment to dig valley dams in the district.
Pastoralists in Nakasongola are always hit hard by drought and at least 3000 heads of cattle die per year as result of lack of access to water according to district Veterinary reports. The district also has over 254,000 heads of cattle.
In March 2013, Ministry of Water and Environment donated to Nakasongola an excavator registration UG 1872S and it was supposed to be hired to pastoralists at low cost to dig communal or private valley dams in their farms so to mitigate effects of drought. The same excavator is supposed to be used in Nakaseke, Luweero districts and must be used for six months by each district.
The Nakasongola LC 5 Chairman James Wandira says that the district registered more than 250 pastoralists who were willing to use the excavator  to dig their own valley dams but they have failed to secure a driver who is supposed to be recruited by the Ministry of Water and Environment.
He added that the district also lacks a low bed truck  to transport the excavator to communities and the Ministry of Agriculture in conjunction with Ministry of Water also promised to donate extra set of a grader, bulldozer and dumping truck but they are yet to receive them.
// Cue in: "We went ahead…
    Cue out:...start utilizing it.’’//
Fredrick Banumba, a district councillor for Nakitoma sub county, says pastoralists and their cattle trek over 10 kilometers to find water on River Kafu which have greatly lead to reduction of stock as result of deaths on the journeys. Banumba adds says that they thought the donation of excavator was relief and hurriedly asked for its services but they are frustrated by delay. Banumba asked Minister of Water and Environment Ephraim Kamuntu to intervene in the matter and ensure the excavator is utilised.
James Lugemwa, a pastoralist in Wabinyonyi sub county, says last year he lost over 20 head of cattle due to lack of water and he was ready to dig his own dam. Lugemwa says some of the pastoralists have started to sell cattle at giveway prices as drought season draws near because they cant find water for them.
Nelson Muruli, a farmer in Lwabyata Sub County, says that acres of crops in area have also withered and they had planned to construct a community valley dam to aid in irrigation. Muruli says that they are worried because the programme may hit snag like a multimillion shilling ice plant that was built at district headquarters but it has failed to work for close to three years since completion.
The Nakaseke LC 5 Chairman Ignatius Koomu says that the delay to utilize the excavator may fuel district conflicts because according to guidelines, Nakasongola was supposed to utilize it for six months and send it to Nakaseke. Koomu says that they are waiting for the months to elapse and demand for it because the pastoralists also need it in the area.
When contacted the Minister of Water and Environment Ephraim Kamuntu said he was not aware of the district complaints about the excavator but promised to follow up.
In 2003, a sum of 3.5 billion shillings meant to construct valley tanks to trap water in semi arid areas disappeared and pastoralists never benefitted from the programme.


About the author

Brian Luwaga
Since Brian Luwaga joined Uganda Radio Network in 2011, he is still amazed how, "URN is a place that gives journalists a chance to enhance their skills . It gives a journalist an opportunity to adopt and master various aspects of journalism that include radio broadcast, social media, photography and television production."

A practicing journalist since 2009, first with Star FM, Luwaga has always been keen to write about the concerns of the "common person." Based for much of his career in Luweero, Luwaga takes it as a compliment if politicians complain that his reporting is too harsh.

In his journalism, Luwaga likes to merge the past with the present. He believes you cannot understand what is happening now, if you do not have a grounding in the past. Brian Luwaga is the Luweero URN bureau chief. Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Mityana, Mubende and Wakiso districts fall under his docket.

Luwaga is interested in humanitarian work and is a keen Rotarian.