This morning as I drank my cup of Star Cafe coffee with a splash of Fresh Diary milk – enjoying made in Uganda products and doing my educative search and read rounds on face book, I happened on an absolutely useful article by Simon Peter Longoli, titled: Cattle Crisis. This article backed with grassroots testimony nicely demonstrates what many – Government of Uganda and other development agencies, inclusive – are doing wrong in Karamoja. Longoli has re-affirmed by thesis that the Karimojong people are really not the problem as they are so often alleged to be; the problem is us – the do-gooders who do not take the time to listen, learn and understand the Karimojong way of life. Here below are extracts from Longole’s article and the link to the full article that as of 17th March 2015 is published on the website of Karamoja Development Forum. PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL THE PARAGRAPH DESCRIPTION TEXT IN BOLD IS MINE AND NOT OF LONGOLI.
TOP DOWN PLANNING NOT GOOD: The bolus chip project was not a success with some herders in districts like Nakapiripirit refusing to get their cows to swallow the chip because of the stories they had heard elsewhere. One of the reasons for its failure was because, like other projects in Karamoja, the herders were not consulted in its implementation. It was largely seen as a project from Kampala and the benefits were not known. Government would get bent on enforcing sedentism, with almost all its livelihoods investment in Karamoja geared at supporting crop production. Almost all Non Governmental Organisations would support ‘alternative livelihoods’, an NGO working phrase to refer to forms of livelihood other than that related to the cow, in which millions of dollars is spent annually. The ‘alternative livelihoods’ include vegetable growing, honey farming, tailoring, catering, dress making. Logwee told me that just about two out of the hundred or more NGOs operational in Karamoja are supporting pastoralism.
THE ARMY DOING LOGISTICS IN CROP AND ANIMAL PRODUCTION NOT GOOD: “The cows were confined – restricted to bad grass for the sake of protection at the barracks. If the cows were impounded by the army, they would not come back. Then there were fears of getting imprisoned and being falsely accused of owning a gun. If you were imprisoned for whatever reasons, your relatives would have to sell cows to bail you out, or if you were accused of having a gun, your relatives would have to get one – even if it meant purchasing it their own way – to ‘return’ it to the army for you,” The Elder said, “This was commonly referred to as ‘purchasing people’”.
GOVERNMENT AND DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES NOT LISTENING IS A ROOT CAUSE OF KARAMOJA’S PROBLEMS: “The government does not like the way the Karimojong keep their animals – that the herds are many, causing erosion, and need to be confined. There is no single way the government is helping the herders. We expected the government to leave the Karimojong to freely graze, leave land for cattle production and not restrict animals within borders. Currently you need to write a letter to a district official to be able to move within Karamoja districts,” he said. The Elder put this in an even stronger perspective. “There should be no restriction. Mobility is health, mobility is wealth. Cows should leave here, go and eat grass in Nakonyen and leave that place and go elsewhere, leaving that grass and bushes to grow,” he said. Since the beginning of the year, Nakonyen, a big kraal south of Moroto hosting Tepes and Pokot cattle suffered from deadly animal diseases. The Elder said it is because those cattle did not move and stayed there longer than they should have.
A PLEA TO GOVERNMENT AND DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES: Logwee and indeed all the herders I have spoken to over the past two years are optimistic about the future of pastoralism in Karamoja. This optimism is based on the peace that they pray continue to be consolidated, and mobility that they say just cannot be denied them. And the hope that Government and the NGOs will relent and redirect support to a sector that just suits their life. When I went home to Namalu, Nakapiripirit in early October, my taxi stopped at a market in the Sebei district of Kween on the Mbale – Nakapiripirit road and passengers got out purchasing matooke and fresh milk. When I asked them why they were taking fresh milk to Karamoja, a woman told me that Namalu town now receives supplies of fresh milk every morning from Kween. Nothing underpins the cattle crisis in Karamoja more than the ‘importation’ of fresh breakfast milk. Just how do you revive a cattle economy in crisis?
Read full article: http://kdfug.org/cattle_crisis.html#cattle_crisis