Stop Lamenting over Drought, Hunger- Karamoja Elders

1429 Views Moroto, Uganda

In short
Kuskus, a resident of Napak and chairperson of the district land board observes that the new trend of grazing in Teso, Lango and Acholi by the Karimojong pastoralists during dry spells has just been adapted and optimized by wrong elements.

Michael Lopeyon Kuskus, an elder in Karamoja has said that there is no need for Karimojong herdsmen to keep bothering neighbours over food and pastures for their animals.

Kuskus, a resident of Napak and chairperson of the district land board observes that the new trend of grazing in Teso, Lango and Acholi by the Karimojong pastoralists during dry spells has just been adapted and optimized by wrong elements.


He says the grass available in Karamoja land is enough to sustain livestock during dry season, provided there is water for the animals.


Kuskus explained that animals adapt to weather patterns and can manage any situation as long as the caretakers are willing to adjust. 

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On the rampant cattle thefts across Karamoja sub-region and its neighbours, Kuskus faults local leaders for protecting thieves.  Kuskus, a cross border peace consultant revealed that wrong elements within Karamoja, connive with their colleagues from other places to steal with the knowledge of local leaders. 

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Dr Moses Okino, the District Veterinary Officer Moroto agrees that while the weather pattern doesn't favour Karamoja, there are reserves where livestock can survive throughout the dry season. He cites Kobebe with the capacity to host livestock from Matheniko, Jie, Bokora and Turkana.

Dr Okino observed that outward movement of pastoralists depends on the relationship with the host communities.

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But Loki Apaa Lomeri, a kraal leader in Lopei says the graze in Karamoja is not enough especially as pastoralists from Turkana drive their livestock to Uganda. Lomeri says he has been losing up to 10 cattle every dry season until he opted to join others in looking for pastures in Katakwi.


Paul Abul, another elder and retired Educationist in Moroto observes that although grazing in the neighbourhood was practised in the past, it was minimal. He notes that the prolonged drought has forced many pastoralists to the neighbouring areas to save their livestock which forms part of their livelihood.


"We used to have dams built by the British in the past and our animals would survive for some time. It's just now that the heat has intensified to the extent that the land is left bare for animals find grass. It is only a few wrong elements taking it as an opportunity to disorganize the host communities", he said.

Local leaders from Karamoja have been engaging their counterparts from the Teso, Lango and Acholi over grazing land especially as dry season sets in. Most of the discussions are concentrated on conduct of pastoralists especially on cattle thefts and illegal possession of firearms.


Recently, pastoralists, especially from Kotido, were denied access to the grazing land in Otuke district over alleged misconduct.


The 3rd Division command in Moroto ordered for immediate withdrawal of cattle from Lango and other Karamoja neighbouring host communities following reports of rampant cattle thefts, lawlessness and an isolated case of killing in Agago district.

Currently, herders across Karamoja are struggling for pastures and water for their animals due to prolonged heat in the region. Except for protected areas which form more than 75% of the total land in Karamoja, the remaining piece for grazing is almost bare.