Karamojong elders have asked local leaders in the region to
find homegrown solutions to stop their children from flocking the streets of Kampala and other towns. The elders say the influx of the children mainly from Napak
district to the streets can be traced to historical trends and occurrences.
Angella, an elder from Moroto district contends that in 1972, the region was generally
hit hard by a famine that forced many children to the streets to beg and work as
housemaids in order to survive. Angella says many who went to the streets to beg and those involved in casual labour returned to Karamoja as businessmen operating big businesses
in Matany and Moroto towns.
He argues that until now, some parents and children from
the region maintain that going out to work as casual labourers or even begging can
be a means to earn a living and fight poverty. He calls upon the local leaders to
sensitize the community on proper ways of earning income instead of looking on
as more and more children join street life.
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Mark Aol Musoka, another elder from Karamoja also says street
children from Karamoja come mainly from Napak district in the sub-counties of Lopei,
Matany and Lokopo which are food baskets to the region ruling out the fact
that the children go to the streets due to food insecurity. He notes that the
issue of the street children in Napak should first be investigated to find out
why children end up on the streets even with the watchful
eyes of their parents and the leaders.
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The leaders were responding to a motion moved by the Napak Woman
MP Faith Nakut who asked the government to remove Karimojong children off the streets where they are have reduced to beggars. She said the practice is
unacceptable in Karimojong culture and correct solutions should be sought by
the respective authorities of Napak and Karamoja at large.
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Elders also want child traffickers to be severely punished in order to deter them from trafficking children with impunity. The government has on several occasions tried to
rehabilitate and resettle Karimojong children from Kampala to their home
districts but on all occasions, the children have found their way back to
the streets of Kampala, according to the district leaders.
John Paul Detex
Kodet, the Napak district chairperson says his predecessors have been working
with Cooperation and Development NGO to rehabilitate Karimojong street children
but they have always gone back to the streets of Kampala.
“C&D has been working to rehabilitate and support children
rescued from the streets but as we speak nearly all of them have gone back to the
streets. Even those taken to school dropped out to live on the streets,” he said in
an interview with URN.
Moroto District Chairperson, David Koriang, however, said that insecurity, high poverty levels and food insecurity as key drivers pushing children out of homes.
Michael Lokawa, an opinion leader from Tapac in Moroto district wants
the government to empower communities on household income such that street children
rehabilitated will not return to the streets.
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According to a report of 2005, more than ¾ of the street children
in Kampala and other towns are Karimojong and their influx is growing every