Ministers from Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia have signed a communique in Moroto district to address the root cause of vulnerability, forced displacement and irregular migration of pastoralists.
In search of pasture and water, pastoralists from Kenya and South Sudan always cross into Uganda, but due to lack of proper frame work and modalities of cooperation among the member states, the groups often clash due to shortage of resources.
The modalities of cross-border cooperation are developed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) secretariat where the four countries fall.
The IGAD drought disaster resilience and sustainability initiative (IDDRSI) was formed in 2012 with a plan aimed at building the resilience of vulnerable communities in the IGAD region to the effects of recurrent droughts and achieving leadership and coordination.
Availability of dams like Kobebe, Arecek and Logoromit have always attracted pastoralists from neighbouring Kenya and South Sudan to Uganda that has saved the lives of the herdsmen and their cattle.
“We are happy with Uganda for always allowing our pastoralists access water for their animals whenever drought sets in. Our coming together today to discuss the future of pastoralists is a big achievement,” said cabinet secretary, ministry of devolution, arid and semi-arid land of Kenya, Eugene Wamalwa.
Wamalwa made the remarks in Moroto district during consultation meeting on cooperation for the development of cross-border areas in the Karamoja cluster in which they signed a communique that has guidelines of operation among the four countries.
The Karamoja cluster comprises of the four countries of Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia that are considered as one socio-ecological zone.
“Promote the formation of cross-border organisations, associations or cooperatives and support their participation in decision-making and monitoring to further cross-border activities and promote culture and peace, tolerance and respect for others,” is what the ministers agreed in the communique they signed.
The state minister for disaster preparedness and refugees, Musa Ecweru, assured his colleagues that the Ugandan government shall deploy security in the dams to ensure the safety of the pastoralists.
“Boundaries shouldn’t bother our people and as leaders we should think of improving on our transport network by tarmacking roads that link us,” Ecweru said.
Ecweru further explained that there was no need for pastoralist communities to fight over pasture because they are brothers and sisters that came from Ethiopia.
Other ministers who signed the communique included minister of environment and forestry Josephine Napwon Cosmos of South Sudan and Prof. Fekadu Beyene minister for livestock and fisheries who was being represented by Sertse Sebuh.
“Recognising the need for an institutional arrangement to facilitate contact between affected stakeholders to enhance cooperation,” is another point the member states agreed on in their communique.
Minister of environment and forestry Josephine Napwon Cosmos of South Sudan, expressed her gratitude to Uganda for not only allowing pastoralists from her country, but for also hosting thousands of refugees.
Executive secretary IGAD Eng. Manhoub Maalim also attended the meeting that attracted leaders religious and cultural leaders.