Kuskus, a resident of Napak and chairperson of the district land board observes that the new trend of grazing in Teso, Lango and Acholi by the Karimojong pastoralists during dry spells has just been adapted and optimized by wrong elements.
Michael Lopeyon Kuskus, an elder in Karamoja has said that there is
no need for Karimojong herdsmen to keep bothering neighbours over food and
pastures for their animals.
Kuskus, a resident of Napak and chairperson of the district land
board observes that the new trend of grazing in Teso, Lango and Acholi by the
Karimojong pastoralists during dry spells has just been adapted and optimized
by wrong elements.
He says the grass available in Karamoja land is enough to sustain
livestock during dry season, provided there is water for the animals.
Kuskus explained that animals adapt to weather patterns and can
manage any situation as long as the caretakers are willing to adjust.
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On the rampant cattle thefts across Karamoja sub-region
and its neighbours, Kuskus faults local leaders for protecting thieves.
Kuskus, a cross border peace consultant revealed that wrong elements
within Karamoja, connive with their colleagues from other places to steal with
the knowledge of local leaders.
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Dr Moses Okino, the District Veterinary
Officer Moroto agrees that while the weather pattern doesn’t favour Karamoja,
there are reserves where livestock can survive throughout the dry season. He
cites Kobebe with the capacity to host livestock from Matheniko, Jie, Bokora
Dr Okino observed that outward
movement of pastoralists depends on the relationship with the host communities.
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But Loki Apaa Lomeri, a kraal leader in Lopei says the graze in Karamoja is not enough especially as
pastoralists from Turkana drive their livestock to Uganda. Lomeri says he has
been losing up to 10 cattle every dry season until he opted to join others in
looking for pastures in Katakwi.
Paul Abul, another elder and retired Educationist in Moroto
observes that although grazing in the neighbourhood was practised in the past, it was minimal. He notes that the prolonged
drought has forced many pastoralists to the neighbouring areas to save their
livestock which forms part of their livelihood.
"We used to have dams built by the British in the past and
our animals would survive for some time. It's just now that the heat has
intensified to the extent that the land is left bare for animals find grass. It
is only a few wrong elements taking it as an opportunity to disorganize the
host communities", he said.
Local leaders from Karamoja have been engaging their counterparts
from the Teso, Lango and Acholi over grazing land especially as dry season sets
in. Most of the discussions are concentrated on conduct of pastoralists
especially on cattle thefts and illegal possession of firearms.
Recently, pastoralists, especially from Kotido, were denied access
to the grazing land in Otuke district over alleged misconduct.
The 3rd Division command in Moroto ordered for immediate
withdrawal of cattle from Lango and other Karamoja neighbouring host communities
following reports of rampant cattle thefts, lawlessness and an isolated case of
killing in Agago district.
Currently, herders across Karamoja are struggling for pastures and
water for their animals due to prolonged heat in the region. Except for
protected areas which form more than 75% of the total land in Karamoja, the
remaining piece for grazing is almost bare.