By Steven Ariong
Although the first lady Janet Museveni left Karamoja five years down the road as a minister incharge of Karamoja affairs, her legacy to the development of Karamoja remains in the hearts of many people of Karamoja.
When she was appointed as minister in charge of Karamoja, the first thing she did was to hold stakeholders meetings right from LC1 Chairpersons, religious leaders, political leaders and elders to brain storm on how to end poverty, malnutrition and cattle rustling in Karamoja.
After meeting with all those stake holders the first lady also met with the development partners to discuss how to channel resources in key areas such as agriculture, health and education.
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By then Karamoja region had a total of 400 NGOs both international and national NGOs and that were operating as briefcase had to flee the region when the first lady became tough on accountability for what they were doing in the region.
This helped to streamline the work of the development partners who used to duplicate activities in the region because the first lady would want each organization to take her through what their organization was doing and where in the region.
On ending pastoralists conflicts, the first lady ordered for the construction of multibillion water dams one in Arecek in Napak district, Kobebe dam in Moroto district, Longoromit dam in Kaabong district and Magama dam in Abim district.
These dams especially the one in Napak stopped the pastoralists from Napak district from crossing to Teso region especially Katakwi, Amuria and Kapelebyong in search for water during dry seasons and this would lead to fights with the Itesots
On the Agriculture, The first lady was the first minister to teach the Karimojong on how to grow cassava with support from World Food program. The Karimojong would cross to Teso region and uproot all the cassava planted in the gardens claiming it grows alone, but now a section of the Karimojong especially in Napak have embraced cassava growing.
On curbing animal thefts, the first lady introduced a program of animal electronic branding where an animal is made to swallow electronic bolus with all the details of the owner and when the animals are stolen but recovered, they would use an electronic chip to identify the rightful owner of the animal, this initiative reduced the theft of animals in the region since the raiders feared being tracked.
A total of about 89,000 heads of livestock were branded across the region but unfortunately most of the animals that were branded were sold off and the young calves that were not branded remain and those are the ones raiders resumed raiding.
On education, the first lady constructed boarding schools and renovated old dormitories with the move to increase girl child education in Karamoja. Among the schools built including Kangole girls SS in Napak, Moroto High School in Moroto, Morulem Girls in Abim, Namalu SS in Nakapiripirit, Arengesiep SS in Nabilatuk, Kotido SS in Kotido district and many other primary schools in the region
When she was moved to education to the education department, President Museveni appointed Eng John Byabagambi with Moses Kizige as his junior who also did a wonderful job to complement on what the first lady was doing and also lobbied for the completion of other projects that the first lady Janet Museveni had not finished.
The projects like community Livelihood empowerment where women were given two oxen ploughs and one heifer for milk.
Other projects that John Byabagambi followed up closely was forming and monitoring the project called Karamoja feeds Karamoja where the office of the prime minister in conjuction with Uganda prisons grew maize and distributed to schools across the region for school feeding program.
Byabagambi also through Dry land integrated development program lobbied for the sponsoring of more than 200 Karimojong school drop out to various courses such as Health, tailoring, Engineering, veterinary and the beneficiaries are already working in various fields within Karamoja region.
All these achievements putn the first lady janet Museveni ad John Byabagambi as the best ministers Karamoja region has ever hard although the currently two ministers that have since replaced John Byabagambi and Moses Kizigez namely Mary Goreti Kitutu minister for Karamoja affairs and Agnes Nadutu her junior ministers their legacy is yet to be seen.
Betty Nangiro, a mother and a resident of Namalu sub county in Nakapiripirit district said whoever mentions the name of the first lady Janet as non performer should be taken to hospitals in India to help check on his or her head whether he or she is normal.
“We didn’t have powers to block the first lady from moving out of Karamoja if we had we would because she was a minister of action,” said Nangiro
Patrick Lokol another resident said no other minister will ever perform the way the first lady and John Byabagambi have performed in Karamoja.
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