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HomeNATIONALHow Cattle Rustling Has Worsened The Living Condition Of The Karimojong

How Cattle Rustling Has Worsened The Living Condition Of The Karimojong

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By Steven Ariong

Karamoja located in the northeastern part of the Uganda has 27,200 square kilometer area of semi-arid vegetation and series of mountains on the east is bordered by the Kenya, to the north is government of Southern Sudan.

Internally Karamoja shares boundaries with Acholi, Iteso and Sabiny. Looking at the weather pattern, the region receives short rains during the month of April. The longer season lasts from June until early September at times this pattern is erratic thus  for many years the rains have been sparse leading  to hunger and prolonged drought.

Despite the entirety situation, the Karimojong have adapted to this often harsh environment by only focusing much attention on the herds of cattle. Alongside they also keep goats, sheep, donkeys and camels, of living.


However, this is not happening at the moment in Karamoja as animal rustling and the skyrocketing inflation has worsened the daily living condition of the Karimojong.

Paul Lokiru an elder and a resident of Natumukathkwo village in Moroto Municipality says the current situation which the Karimojong are facing is attributed to food shortage and poverty.

Karimojong and Turkana pastoralists watering their animals in Kobebe in Moroto last week (photo by Steven Ariong)
Karimojong And Turkana Pastoralists With Their Animals At Kobebe In Moroto-PHOTO BY STEVEN ARIONG

“This scenario is caused by violent attacks between the Karimojong and the neighbors in search of cows and food,” he narrates.

He explains that in the early 70s when the Karimojong had not realized the use of modern fire arms, animals and poverty was history. Lokiru further adds that every family in Karamoja had enough animals where they could drink milk and blood throughout the year.

“This hunger problem is a recent phenomena after the Karimojong left using the traditional weapons i.e. spears and acquired modern fire
arms which have lately been used for raiding cows and killing themselves,” he said.

Lokiru observes that the Karimojong got to know the importance of the gun after they saw the neighbors in the rural Karamoja amassing

“This drove the Karimojong wild by acquiring guns through selling animals and ambushing government soldiers,” he noted.

John Loputa an elder in Panyangara Sub County in Kotido district noted that although government of Uganda has made attempt to disarm the Karimojong and providing them with incentives, the challenge remains.

He said, “Although the disarmament has been done through persuasion, and forceful means, the government has failed to fulfill its promise of protecting the Karimojong and their properties,”

Loputa adds that the Karimojong properties are now being raided by the Turkana in Kenya, the Teuso from Sudan.

However, he said this act has escalated the conflict in the region causing the Karimojong to re-arm themselves in a bid for protection.

Loputa further explains that the loss of cattle among the Karimojong has brought down the moral to educate children.

Nevertheless, the region has little attention in terms of development such as infrastructure like roads, Schools, water and hospitals thus leaving the large community without the basics of life.

Another issue is high illiteracy rates which threaten to swallow the whole of Karamoja Sub region. This has led to failure by parents to send their children to school.

Others issues affecting the region include many diseases and eventual death due to poor health. The resident district commoners Nabilatuk district Jacita Ayo attributed poor development in the region to insecurity.

“The government had set to develop Karamoja region but because of many arms which the Karimojong were still keeping it failed the government do much by then,” she said.

Nsubuga added that since the government has taken a way guns from the region, Karamoja will now massively develop.

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