INSECURITY JEOPARDIZES FOOD SECURITY AMONG PASTORALISTS IN KARAMOJA
The long drought condition is expected in Karamoja until the beginning of April 2016. This is after El Nino rains had relieved stress on water and pasture resources in and around grazing areas of Karamoja.
Karamoja, hosting about 20% of Uganda`s cattle, largely relies on livestock products for food and other products. 2015 has been a bad year for agro pastoralists almost throughout the region. Unreliable rainfall ensured zero or low harvests from crop fields. This therefore meant reliance on livestock was considered highly among many communities in Karamoja.
Concentration of livestock around water points was experienced as early as August 2015 all through until the dawn of El Nino rains between September and November 2015. Areas like Kobebe North of Moroto received huge numbers of animals from Turkana, Jie and Matheniko. Others like Natapar Arengan south West of Moroto received an equal number of livestock.
Struggle for water and pasture resources has been eminent around all water points. Communities struggled with conflicts on resource sharing. Local governments made sure security was heightened in and around grazing areas, especially when the Turkana of Kenya are still armed with a palpable security situation in the region.
Many times, even when water is available, cows went thirsty and missed water for days due to conflict on who waters his animals first. The army in Kobebe was forced to close water for long periods until conflicting communities agreed on water trough sharing.
When our animals are stressed, when they don’t drink water and eat enough nutritious grass, they also go dry. We get no milk. Water is milk for us. We don’t even get blood. You cannot extract blood from a hungry and thirsty cow. The cows will get sickly and thin. Cows are like human beings. When they are stressed, they do not deliver food for us. A herder from Moru Adakai kraal told Karamoja Development Forum in September 2015.
In Karamoja, livestock moves from one place to the other largely for water and pasture. Due to the recent insecure situation, livestock have had limited mobility and access to better pasture and enough water is a challenge. Both Turkana and Matheniko are concentrating in smaller water points like Nakamar Kemer dam north of Rupa Moroto. This brews more internal conflicts. Livestock does not give enough milk as expected due to less water and pasture.
The recent cattle rustling and confiscation of livestock by the army has limited food options from many communities. In the last two months (December-January), up to about one thousand animals have either been raided or confiscated from both Turkana and Jie. This exposes households of owners to food insecurity. When the army drove away some of the cows from this home, our children went hungry. We could not have cows to milk for them. One herder told us when the army drove away cows in an attempt to recover a gun in Rupa recently.
The human induced insecurity leading to cattle rustling, stealing of livestock and killing of some people around grazing areas is stressing the food situation and risking lives of dependants on livestock products. We used to drive animals to cattle markets in Amudat through Naitakwae. This is no more. We fear that route now.
The food insecurity in the region has attracted pity from religious charities and government agencies who have had to distribute food rations among communities, especially in Rupa of Moroto. But even then, this is not enough and it is not sustainable. This food cannot feed my family until the rainy season. This is not enough. One food aid beneficiary told us in the recent food distribution in Rupa.
Pastoralists have a right to Peace and governments must work towards ensuring sustainable peace among these communities so as to allow communities enhance their resilient abilities to cope with climate change and grazing patterns that support food production in their families.
The government of Kenya must disarm the Turkana with immediate effect. The government of Uganda must ensure this happens. For now, these communities live in fear of themselves, and there is no guarantee for peaceful coexistence when one side remains fragile with the ability to pick up weapons to destabilize the whole region.
You see this meeting. If we had held it around Kobebe or in the other swamps. These guys (Turkana) would easily pick up guns and scare everybody. We had to call them here.