Uganda has urged Kenya and South Sudan to disarm their pastoral communities to pave way for the proposed Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) law to allow free movement of pastoralists and stamp out cattle rustling in the region.
State minister for Karamoja, Moses Kizige, says Uganda has already set conducive environment to implement the law by disarming the Karamojong warriors.
“We expect Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia to do so (disarm pastoralists) as the first step and IGAD needs to ensure it is done in order to integrate the pastoral communities,” Kizige said.
He made the remarks while opening a two-day consultative meeting to ratify the IGAD Protocol on Transhumance this morning, July 11 at Laico Lake Victoria hotel in Entebbe.
Kenya’s Turkana and Pokot nomadic pastoralists continue to raid the Karamojong, who have since become vulnerable after government disarmed them. Previously, battles between the Karamojong and Turkana and Pokots for pasture and water led to loss of human life and livestock.
However, the IGAD Protocol on Transhumance, aimed at curbing cattle rustling and disease control among pastoral communities in the eight-nation regional bloc, could be the amiable solution.
IGAD consists of Uganda, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. Kizige noted that transhumance is an old tradition in this region and the protocol will help in regulating the activity for safety, free movement people and animals.
“Our challenges are not only limited to resources of water and pastures but also spread of pests and disease,” he explained, adding that Karamoja will particularly benefit from the protocol.
At the end of the two-day discussions, Ugandan officials and experts from the IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) are expected to review the final draft of the protocol.
Uganda’s team to the negotiations includes Karamoja legislators, led by Dodoth East MP Sam Lokeris, and representatives from the ministries of immigration, foreign and internal affairs.
According to Dr Adan Bika, head of Dryland Development and Climate Change Adaptation at the Nairobi-based ICPALD, they will similar discussions with Dijibouti, South Sudan and Sudan after Entebbe meeting. Kenya and Ethiopia have already ratified the protocol, he added.
The objectives of the protocol include promoting sustainable livestock productivity and building integration between member states for pastoralists to access to government services.
It will also ease the movement of pastoralists and their animals across borders while observing regulations of health and disease control measures.