The Buliisa incident is not an isolated case. On May 29, it was reported that there was a stand-off between the Kasese RDC and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Acting on the directive of the state minister for tourism, UWA officials started evicting the Basongora pastoralists from Queen Elizabeth National Park, but were halted by the RDC.
Pastoralists are essentially nomadic people, who keep moving from place to place in search of water and pasture for their animals. For example, there are Ugandan Banyarwanda from Tanzania who are in camps in Rakai and Kiruhura districts. There are also Bahima in Hoima, Buliisa and Masindi districts. The problem seems to be that of land tenure systems. Availability of pasture and water does not always mean free land.
There are many chunks of land owned communally which seem to be idle to pastoralists. Grazing on such land often results in conflict. The lands ministry needs to chart out a strategy to put communally owned land to more economic advantage.
The pastoralist question in Uganda needs to be settled amicably. The Government should sensitise pastoralists about the idea of having fewer but quality animals. Modern methods of farming like ranching can help them appreciate the advantage of having permanent settlements.
As some commentators have observed, a commission of inquiry can be set up to sort out the interests of the pastoralists and other stakeholders without resorting to violent means. The pastoralists, settled farmers and Government officials all need to be represented to hammer out a lasting solution.
Govt should sort out pastoralists