By Ochieng Samuel
With increased security and stability in Karamoja, there has been a lot of attention to the region as communities have become more settled. Various interventions have been spearheaded by international, national and local agencies, aimed at improving the lives of the Karamojong communities.
These initiatives are multi – sectoral and seek to address development needs in areas of Production, health, Water and sanitation, Food Security/Nutrition and Environment.
Indeed, a lot has been done and efforts to scale up the already best practices continue to be explored by development partners and this needs to be appreciated as one way forward in enhancing the development in the region.
A simple profiling of development partners conducted by Nakapiripirit civil society forum in order to map out development partners operating at the district in relation to their thematic and geographical scope of work pointed to the fact that there were virtually no agencies implementing gender based programmes at the district.
Much as agencies are boosting production with the existing massive level of initiatives on livelihoods at household level with tangible indicators that households are becoming productive.
It is my considered view that with high level rates of domestic violence among other forms of sexual and gender based violence prevalent among the Karimojong, it implies that families are more unstable and, therefore, full development at family level can be a dream to be achieved.
For instance, a family with support of inputs can harness a bumper harvest which can be a very good success story to be proud of by any agency. However, issues of post harvest handling remain challenging especially where a husband may want to sale the harvest and in the process domestic violence takes centre stage.
The other day there was an agency supplying green gram to households and that very evening there was a domestic quarrel resulting from alcoholism and the wife was buttered and injured, she had to spend the whole month at the health centre, this implied that for that whole month, there was no gardening activity at that household and that was the only best timing for planting, the husband was preoccupied with livestock keeping.
Sexual and gender based programmes, if well implemented ensures that the communities will gain in-depth understanding of issues of gender equity and equality, the existing legal frameworks and the reporting mechanisms, this will play a significant role in bringing about harmony and peace at household level.
Additionally, the Karimojong culture is one of the few that is still embedded and, therefore, some traditional elements, if not eliminated will continue to deter the development initiatives already being undertaken. For instance, rape in courtship is a very welcome idea as per the Karimojong culture, some sections of the Karimojong communities still practice tattooing, this could be drivers of HIV/AIDs and it is well known that the burden caused by HIV/AIDs can make a household less productive as time and resources spent on keeping the HIV/AIDs patient drains it a great deal.
Much as the development partners come in to fill the gaps at local governments. I would like to appeal to the district authorities to provide guidance to the development partners that seek to undertake development initiatives in the respective districts in Karamoja and this could help capture the need for sexual and gender based programmes.
The writer is the executive coordinator, Nakapiripirit Civil Society Forum (NACSOF)