The Ugandan and Kenyan government with the mediation of the United Nations-UN have agreed on joint collaboration to promote peace at the different border points especially in
places with Normads and Pastoralists.
The agreement comes following week long discussions between different stakeholders including the Karamoja Affairs Minister, John Byabagambi, Eugene Kijana Wamalwa, Kenya’s Devolution, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands Cabinet Secretary, the Aterker community in Karamoja, Members of the local development groups in Kenya and Uganda and the local leaders from districts around the Uganda-Kenya border.
Groups of people speaking the same language including the Turkana in Kenya,
Nyangatong of South Ethiopia, Topoth of South Sudan, Karamojong and Iteso in Uganda used to live in harmony more than 100 years ago since they had the same cultural origin, the Nilo Hermites. However, the groups started fighting each other after the partition of Africa in 1930.
The fights fueled cattle rustling leading to cross border killings. Whereas several leaders called for harmony and an end to cattle rustling and infighting among these people, the killings continued prompting the intervention of UN.
Now, Rosa Malango the UN Resident Coordinator, says both Uganda and Kenya have agreed on the Joint Cross-Border Program to promote peace amongst the pastoral communities in the region.
“We need to work with the governments of Uganda and Kenya to bring the region together because in nomadic communities there is an issue of competition for resources like water and pasture. We need to find a way we can work with the governments to help improve the way of life for the people” she said.
Malango made the remarks in an interview with Uganda Radio Network after the Joint Kenya-Uganda Cross-Border Integrated Programme for Sustainable Peace and Socio-Economic Transformation for the Karamoja Cluster launch in Entebbe on Friday morning.
“Right now there is a drought in Kenya so pastoralists have to cross into Uganda, so we have to get a mechanism of them accessing water without fighting. The MOU will help the governments rely on the UN to mobilize the private sector to come in and see what can be done to have
access to all those facilities around them” she said.
Malango says a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries will have analysts find the root causes of the conflicts, which include access to water. The United Nations Development program has also suggested the creation of water bodies along the borders of Uganda and Kenya for use by all cattle keepers.
The Leader of the Aterker community in Karamoja, Peter Lokeris, says the development is welcome for the people of Karamoja and asked Kenyans to do the same.
Speaking at the same meeting, Eugene Wamalwa, the Kenya’s Devolution and Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) cabinet secretary, said the MOU will integrate communities living along the borders.
“When you look at these communities they are similar in very many ways in terms of culture and livelihood, we are trying to see as governments how we can come together and instead of cross border conflicts and cattle rustling we want to integrate these communities to see
more cross border trade and livelihoods improved” he said.
The two countries are expected to sign the MoU in June this year.