Panic Among Pastoralists As Persistent Drought Kills Cattle in Nyakatonzi

Top story
At least 60 cows have died since January due to lack of water and pasture. Kasese District has an estimated 80,000 head of cattle. Nyakatonzi alone has more than 40,000 cows.
One of the valley dams that has dried up in Nyakatonzi sub county

Audio 7

The persistent drought in Nyakatonzi Sub County in Kasese District has triggered panic among pastoralists. The area has been experiencing severe drought for the last four months.

Several water sources including the two multi-billion valley tanks of Kakonge and Kagongo have dried up. The tanks that were built by the Water and Environment Ministry under the water for production project became operational last year.

At least 60 cows have died since January due to lack of water and pasture. Kasese District has an estimated 80,000 head of cattle. Nyakatonzi alone has more than 40,000 cows.  The sub-county is home to 300 pastoralists registered under Muhumuza-Nyakatonzi Cattle Keepers Cooperative society.

Micheal Thembo, one of the pastoralists, says that most of the tributaries they were depending on to provide water to their cattle have dried up forcing them to trek between 4 to 10kms to Nyamugansani River.

According to Thembo, currently five cows only give him one liter of milk due to lack of enough water. He says that the absence of water has forced them to reduce the times they spray their animals from twice a week to once due to lack water.

//Cue in: “Tukatandika gugegura aha…

Cue out: …gasarika ebeyi.”//

Our reporter found Enock Kanagwa grazing his animals in the open cotton fields. He says that he has lost about twenty cows due to starvation resulting from of lack of water and pasture.

He appeals to the government to construct proper valley dams that can keep high volumes of water during the dry season.   

//Cue in: “Kurora tyagunga amaizi…


Cue out: …bazitamu amaizi.”// 

Saulo Baluku, another cattle keeper begged cotton farmers to allow him to graze cattle in their fields after harvesting cotton. But this will be a short-lived solution as farmers are already preparing their fields for the next season. 

//Cue in: “Ent nizirwa ebintu ebwomere… 

Cue out: …tutukumnaya ekiturakore.”// 

Michael Rucwanisa the Muhumule Village LC1 chairperson, who also serves as the treasurer Muhumuza-Nyakatonzi Cattle Keepers Cooperative Society, says the pastoralists were largely depending on the two valley dams for water.

He says there is already increasing conflict between pastoralists and the management of Queen Elizabeth national park as cows try to follow Nyamugasani River and pasture into the park.   

//Cue in: “Ente zaali itoroka… 

Cue out: …kugira enjara zikatoroka.”// 

Rwacwanisa wants the government to interact with the management of Queen Elizabeth National Park to allow farmers to graze their animals in the park during the dry spell. 

//Cue in: “Nobwokusaba tibakwikwikiriza… 

Cue out: …teri yomulembe.”//

Richard Kiiza Wamara, the former sub-county councillor says Kanyampara water stream, which would have been of help is used by many farmers from the upstream to irrigate their gardens.

He is concerned that many pastoralists and animals have been impounded for crossing into the park in search of water.

//Cue in: “Hati abantu obubakanyireho… 

Cue out: …ebintu ebikutusasa.”// 

Swizin Bukenya the Nyakatonzi sub-county chairperson says the current drought is the worst to have happened in the area. He says there is a likelihood of more deaths of livestock and reduced milk production.

//Cue in:”Amaizi mubiro binu… 

Cue out: …nigakeha omukwambu.”//

Florence Kabugho, the Kasese District Woman MP-elect, says there a need for the government to examine how waters from river Nyamugasani can be channelled into the valley dams.