By Taddeo Bwambale
Ministers from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan have agreed to establish a strong institutional framework to coordinate and harmonise interventions in the Karamoja Cluster.
The cluster comprises parts of North West Kenya, North East Uganda, South West Ethiopia and South East of South Sudan.
The resolution is part of proposals agreed on by ministers from the four countries who met in Kampala on Monday at a conference on peace, security and development in Karamoja.
The conference was organised by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and chaired by the First Lady and Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Janet Museveni.
It was attended by Kenya's cabinet secretary and interior minister, Joseph Ole Lenku; South Sudan's foreign affairs minister, Benjamin Marial; Ethiopia's foreign affairs state minister, Omod Obang Olom and Uganda's state minister for internal affairs, James Baba and several MPs from the region.
According to a joint communiqué issued after the meeting, the ministers also resolved to hold an annual Ministerial Forum to monitor and review interventions in the Karamoja Cluster.
Although Karamoja is located in four different countries, the area shares similar challenges related to remoteness and under-development. The area is also severely affected by natural disasters, drought and insecurity.
The minsters' conference held at Speke Resort Munyonyo was preceded by a meeting of Parliamentarians on Sunday, and a meeting of regional experts on peace, security and development on Friday.
The meetings reviewed national and regional policy frameworks and programmes on peace, security and development in the Karamoja cluster.
According to a statement from IGAD's Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN), the ministers endorsed a set of innovative solutions to support the speeding-up of attaining peace, security and development in the region.
An IGAD Parliamentary Forum on peace, security and development of the Karamoja Cluster was established during the meeting.
In light of recent natural resource discoveries in the region, states are increasingly looking to the areas to drive the region's development.
In addition, member states are intensifying national and regional infrastructure, as well as socio-economic development schemes to transform the region.