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Karamoja Leaders Demand Distinct Regional Status :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Karamoja Leaders Demand Distinct Regional Status

During the regional ULGA meeting on Friday in Nabilatuk district, local leaders in the Karamoja sub-region demanded recognition as an independent region to unify their communities and promote development.
Karamoja district officials, sub county chairpersons during ULGA regional meeting in Nabilatuk district

Audio 4

Local leaders under the umbrella of the Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA) have asked the government to consider Karamoja as a distinct region separate from Northern Uganda. 

Karamoja sub-region covers an area of 27,528 kilometers and comprises nine districts including Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Nabilatuk, Kotido, Abim, Kaabong, Karenga, and Amudat, which are currently counted under Northern Uganda.   

However, the sub-region is internally divided. Abim, Kotido, Kaabong, and Karenga districts are considered part of the North, while Moroto and Napak are central, and Nakapiripirit, Nabilatuk, and Amudat lie in the southern part. During the regional ULGA meeting on Friday in Nabilatuk district, local leaders in the Karamoja sub-region demanded recognition as an independent region to unify their communities and promote development.   

Felix Mark Lochale, the Vice President of ULGA for the Karamoja sub-region and LC5 chairperson of Karenga district, emphasized the need for regional status to bring services closer to the community. He highlighted issues like youth elections being hindered because people from Karamoja are transported outside the region to vote.   

Lochale noted that regional status would bridge gaps among the different Karamojong clusters and foster peaceful coexistence. He also called for leaders to clear their subscription fees and support ULGA activities, stressing that unpaid fees have hampered the association's ability to serve effectively.   

Lochale advocated for a review of decentralization to amend acts for better service delivery. He urged leaders to create ordinances on education, the environment, and waragi (a local alcoholic beverage) to protect people from harmful practices.  

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Peter Lokeris, the Minister for Karamoja Affairs, urged leaders to prioritize peace for development and supported the call for regional status to enhance development capacity. He noted that the current division into Northern and Southern parts has perpetuated community divisions.   

Local leaders also expressed concerns about low local revenue collections, which have hindered developmental programs and planning. They emphasized the need to strengthen decentralized governance to improve service delivery. 

Milton Kato, a retired Chief Administrative Officer for Gulu district and consultant, pointed out that revenue collection has been affected by the declining involvement of district leaders and the centralization of revenue.   

Kato urged ULGA to organize a national conference on local revenues with relevant ministries to discuss revenue distribution, especially for districts with mineral deposits and tourism sites. He also supported the creation of an online tax register for better revenue management.

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Paul Lokol, the LC5 chairperson of Nabilatuk district, called on leaders to work together to enhance revenue collection and create an environment conducive to individual and regional development. He highlighted the need for investment in education, health, and agro-pastoralism.   

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Richard Rwabuhinga, the President of ULGA, requested a special meeting with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to discuss local government issues. He mentioned the need for 160 motorcycles for districts involved in the oil seed project in Karamoja and criticized the lack of transport for lower local government leaders, which hampers their ability to monitor government programs like the Parish Development Model.   

Rwabuhinga stressed the importance of adequately funding transport for district chairpersons and lower local government staff to facilitate effective project monitoring.

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