On 29th April, 2020, Food Rights Alliance and Community Integrated Development Initiative (CIDI) in partnership with Trocaire and Danish Peoples Aid organized a webinar on Water Resources. The meeting discussed a case around COVID-19 to influence stakeholders to prioritize … Read the restNSAs Debate the Impact of COVID-19 on Uganda’s Water Resources —
Introduction: The Karamoja sub-region (i.e. Karamoja) in Northeastern Uganda occupies 27,000 square miles of land and is currently inhabited by approximately 1.4 million diverse people – most speak the Nga’karimojong language (Feinstein International Center, 2007). It is environmentally, socially, politically and economically different from the rest of Uganda. Being largely dryland, its economy is traditionally based on livestock complemented by opportunistic crop cultivation (International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs, 2019). Karamoja has 9 local governments with one referral hospital situated in Moroto district the regional administrative town in Uganda.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease of humans caused by a coronavirus newly discovered in 2019 – SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic and continues to spread around the world including to Africa, where the number of cases is steadily increasing with 30,536 reported cases and 1,085 deaths as of May 4 (World Health Organization, 2020a). Uganda’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in March 2020 after a Ugandan businessman returned from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Since then, Uganda has confirmed 114 cases, with 55 recoveries and no deaths as of 3rd of May, 2020. The number of cases continues to rise. Karamoja has not yet confirmed or reported any COVID-19 cases since the onset of the pandemic. However, due to porous borders, continued inter and intra conflicts among pastoralists COVID-19 cases could come from Kenya or South Sudan across the border if stiff border security is not enforced. The facilities at the referral hospital in Moroto are able to carry out surveillance, containment, communication and case tracking activities related to COVID-19.
COVID 19 response in Uganda and Karamoja The Ugandan government through the Ministry of Health has recently implemented public health measures aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. These include shutting down international air travel, campaigns on social distancing, washing hands with soap and water, and the sanitization and closure of schools and most public places. As numbers have increased, the president of Uganda announced a partial lockdown that is currently in effect.
Although the lockdown is intended to be country-wide, many rural people, including those in Karamoja, are not aware of it and have continued business as usual. This indicates that information on public health measures have not reached rural communities, especially pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in the manyattas and Kraals, likely due to inadequate and limited communication channels.
Responding locally with pastoralists The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 response guidelines are global in nature and therefore need to be contextualized from the bottom to top through a participatory approach that respects the fact that communities have previous experiences in managing similar health challenges. It is therefore important to harness local knowledge to enhance the pandemic response.
The Young Volunteers Group (YVG) of ALIN Africa conducted an outreach with selected pastoralist local leaders, Village Health teams (VHTs) and kraal leaders in Kaabong East and Lodiko sub counties of Kaabong District to identify gaps linked to COVID 19 information access and flow to rural people (Pastoralists and Agro-pastoralists) while responding to the pandemic. During community outreach at manyattas and kraals that took place over a weeklong period, a number of limitations in regard to COVID-19 public health measures were identified. These included limited access to water, soap and health services. Pastoralists asked how they could buy soap without an income due to the closure of livestock markets. The pastoralists also asked on how they could stay at home when they don’t have food to eat or find clean water when the boreholes are far away and have dried up.
Based on this initial outreach and the identified shortcomings of the COVID-19 response in Karamoja, Arid landscape Initiative (ALIN Africa) a social think tank on pastoralism and natural resource governance received financial support from AfriFood and EuroAfri Link (EAL) to implement a COVID-19 sensitization and awareness campaign from April 26th to May 1st among manyattas and kraals in parts of Kaabong East and Lodiko sub county. Young Volunteer Group (YVG) of ALIN Africa led the campaign with the support of the Kaabong District Task Force (KDTF) on COVID-19 in Kaabong East and Lodiko Sub-Counties. The campaign included COVID-19 health promotion, engagement on community-based solutions to the pandemic in Karamoja, and the distribution of 49 cartons of soap to 1,225 pastoralists’ households and impacting 9,800 members of the Household in the community and about 1,050 livestock keepers over a six-day period.
The following Manyattas have been reached out during sensitization: Moruayao, Loburiekori, Naita, Toroae, Kalongor, Simalok, Nayangasae, Napetabul, Nariyobwel and Lokolia health center. The kraals reached include: Loburi ekori and Simalok kraal all in Kaabong East and Lodiko Sub counties of Kaabong District.
Safeguarding pastoralist livelihoods Noting that COVID-19 brings about other shortcomings among rural communities, sensitization and awareness activities did not focus solely on the direct health impacts of the virus. The team of volunteers also highlighted ways communities can respond to impacts caused by lockdowns and the closure of other systems, including food insecurity, gender violence and conflict management. Pastoralists were encouraged to graze animals, go on farm, harvest firewood, honey, wild fruits, edible leaves and mushrooms while following physical and social distancing guidelines in order to keep the community food secure.
ALIN Africa in the process of sensitization also took keen interest to understand the local actions taken in the past to respond to related devastating outbreaks like cholera and livestock diseases. Communities noted “that in the past numbers of sick people was overwhelming and hundreds of people died by 1980s due to cholera outbreak”. But local actions such as isolation, good feeding and treatment of infected persons with local herbs secured lives of some community members before the catholic missionaries and Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) stepped in to rescue the situation. This provides an example of how local experience and strategies can help to combat COVID-19.
Pastoralists are not static to change. They are rather quick to adapt to any crisis at hand. Participatory decision making to safeguard livelihoods is critical for communities.Loupa Pius 2020
As Young Volunteer Group (YVG) of ALIN Africa, we want to support and secure our pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in the fight against COVID-19. Our goal is to reach 15,000 pastoralists and agro-pastoralist in rural Karamoja especially youths (herders), women in mayattas and kraals. Our starting point is Kaabong District. We stand together to acknowledge the generous support of AfriFood, EuroAfri Link (EAL)and Government of Uganda (GoU) through Ministry of Health (MoH) and Kaabong District Task Force (KDTF) towards a strengthened pastoral community with an ability to respond to COVID-19. The disruptions that COVID-19 has had on livelihoods, operations and markets are severe, especially in pastoral areas where tough measures affecting mobility, market access and resources have been instituted. Together with our partners, we are focused on working with pastoralists and agro-pastoralists to develop a community based approach to COVID-19 that protects public health, food security and livelihoods.
Our impacts in photos kindly visit AfriFood here impact on COVID 19 support the partnership fighting the impacts of COVID 19 on small holder farmers and pastoralists in Africa by donating to Euro Afri Link through the link donate today anything you can.
This report has been compiled by Nawoton Oliver (journalism student), Loupa Pius (Agroecologist), Lopeyok Francis (Pastoralist) and Muya James (Pastoralist) team members of Young Volunteer Group (YVG) of Arid Landscape Initiative (ALIN Africa). It was edited by Evan Griffith (DVM/MPH student at Tufts University).
- Feinstein International Center, 2007: The Scramble for Cattle, Power and Guns in Karamoja. Available at https://fic.tufts.edu/assets/The+Scramble+for+Cattle1.pdf
- International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs 2019 Indigenous people of Uganda report. Availablehttps://www.iwgia.org/en/uganda/3490-iw2019-uganda.html
- World Health Organization. (2020a). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Situational Report – 105. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200504-covid-19-sitrep-105.pdf?sfvrsn=4cdda8af_2 World Health Organization. (2020a). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Situational Report – 105.
Mobile Pastoralists: The Challenge of Livestock Markets in Karamoja Uganda by Loupa Pius – Project Officer of the Dynamic Agropastoralist Development Organization (DADO).
This article explores livestock markets and the use of pastoralist mobility to gradually enhance the growing cattle economy in Karamoja, Uganda; cases are provided in this article of the best practices in the livestock trade and communities, involved both inside and outside of Karamoja. The challenges and recommendations that can lead to the creation of a better environment and help to redevelop the livestock market value chain and economy of the sub region are further discussed.
The Karamoja region of Uganda, comprising of the districts: Kaabong, Kotido, Abim, Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Amudat and Napak, is part of the pastoralist corridor – an area inhabited by semi-nomadic cattle keeping groups; the population of this group is estimated to be around 1.2 million people.
The region is characterized by climatic conditions which fail to follow a reliable pattern; this can be troubling for a population whose livelihood is heavily dependent on cattle not only for its high cultural importance, but for its economic value in terms of conversion. The livestock in the area consist of cattle, goats, sheep, donkeys, camels, pigs, chicken and turkeys.
According to a FAO/EU report in 2010, despite having the most cattle in Uganda, Karamoja remains the most underdeveloped and most impoverished region. This is a situation that has persisted for a considerable amount of time despite interventions from the government and other donors. US-based Feinstein International Centre states in its 2013 report, ‘The Livelihood Dynamics in northern Karamoja’, that “Livestock production is and will be the backbone of the economy in Karamoja and represents by far the biggest economic opportunity in the region.”
Future Prospects of Livestock Markets
According to Cees De Haan, etal, (2014), the price of meat is expected to remain high and there are indications, although disputed, that further growth of production is possible – a great positive for the people of Karamoja. However, unfortunately, livestock ownership is increasingly consolidated in the hands of wealthy people (Kraal leaders), who are mostly owners of large herds. Unfortunately, this structure functions only as a mediocre employment generator and shows large inter-annual variation (it amounts to a “boom and bust economy”).
Moreover, according to the report by CTA and IIRR (2016), Ethiopia’s livestock-dependent leather industry is the second-largest source of its foreign currency after coffee. In Uganda, pastoralists and small-scale livestock producers are the fourth-largest contributors to foreign currency earnings.
In this way, Dr. Chim Stem’s report of the Horn of Africa Livestock Export Trade termed as a business at cross (2016) highlights how the livestock export industry is the lifeblood of the 17 million pastoralists throughout the HoA region. Global demand for meat and livestock is at an all-time high and is currently in an unprecedented growth phase never seen before, and it is expected to grow by 6 – 7 million heads annually over the next 10 years.
Karamoja Livestock Markets
It should be noted that Karamoja hones 20 per cent of Uganda’s cattle, 16 per cent of the country’s goats and 50 per cent of their sheep (Livestock census, 2008). Such statistics are great indicators of the livestock market potential of the region. Local markets tend to have the lowest costs and risks, and are the easiest for pastoralists to serve.
There are four main livestock markets in Karamoja which are increasingly growing: Kanawat Livestock Market in Kotido, Naitakwae Market in Moroto, Komuria Livestock Market in Kaabong, and Lolachat Livestock Market in Nakapiripirit District. However, in 2010, FAO identified six popular cattle and crop commodity markets in the region, including Iriir, Matany, Kangole, and Nataikwae, in Napak and Moroto; they also noted Kacheri and Komuria in the Kotido and Kaabong districts respectively, but the structures at the market aren’t as great as expected.
The benefits resulting from Karamoja’s livestock ends far beyond its borders; the livestock creates more opportunities for Karamoja’s families to gain better access to income and services, such as quality education, health care, and food security at the prime level to withstand shocks. Livestock has long been considered the moving bank of a Karimojong, and this has been shown through the development of sustainable livelihoods by creating resilient systems across the whole region.
Resilience building and developing sustainable livelihoods are obvious in the livestock systems that are brought forward by “The Mobile Pastoralist – Moving Livestock Markets”. Mobility in pastoralism is not solely induced by water, pasture, diseases, security but also through access to better livestock markets and other opportunities.
Pastoralists have trekked around the neighborhoods, resulting in the discovery of alarming information. Importantly, from this cyclic mobility, the pastoralists were deeply affected and decided to impact upon the community through creating cheap livestock prices – hence the restocking in communities due to the mobility effect.
The Karimojong pastoralists have always participated in selling their livestock, but the numbers and the motives behind the marketing is induced by immediate family or household needs. The Resilience Learning Project (RLP/USAID, 2016 ) notes that the Karimajong are responding reasonably well to market opportunities as and when they happen, in a methodical way, by selling the right numbers of animals for their immediate cash needs. It is well known that it is much cheaper to purchase animals in the village, even those with the greatest weight and highest price, than in open market.
The cost for an animal (Cow or Bull) in the local livestock market is lower than expected because pastoralists face more financial factors that lead to such reductions. On average, cattle can cost from 900,000UGX to 1,500,000UX, and also prices range from 120,000UGX to 200,000UGX for Goats in any livestock market in Karamoja. Livestock sales are dependent on seasonality, and the animals are sold based on observation in Karamoja.
For future improvement of better sales, there is a need to improve or introduce the livestock weighbridges, formation of cooperatives and Livestock marketing Associations believe this can open a sense of trust and will develop a sustainable livestock markets value chain while eliminating individual monopoly in the system.
CASE OF BORONA COMMUNITY: LIVESTOCK MARKET IN NORTHERN KENYA
‘Livestock to Market’ is a very important program so far in Kenya; the program has empowered many pastoralists both men and women. In Northern Kenya, investors or organized groups of pastoralists business men purchase livestock (Cattle, Goats and Sheep) from pastoralists. The animals are weighed before payment. The animals are later taken to the ranches or Bomas for fattening for a given period of 2-4 months, depending on the weight and body condition of the animal. After fattening the animal, bulls and cows can be sold in an international, regional or local market at a price that is increasingly attractive. Fattened animals from the ranch will cost around 50,000 – 60,000KSH, which is about 2.1million UGX.
Livestock markets have steered the development of other institutions in Karamoja. For example, market days within Karamoja earn revenues for institutions such as municipalities, local town councils, sub counties and districts. In addition, livestock markets open access to other products such as crop produce, household utensils and products lead by women, such as local brews which also earn revenue to tax authorities in Karamoja.
Case of Komuria Livestock Market in Kaabong
Every market day the Kaabong town council earns an estimated amount of money wort, 110,760,000UGX (One Hundred Ten Million Seven Hundred Sixty Thousand Shillings Only) in tax in the livestock market in one year.
Gender in livestock markets plays a critical role in Karamoja, as not all genders participate in livestock marketing for the same species of animals. It is common in Karamoja women, girls, and some boys, to participate in the trade of small ruminants and poultry such as goats, poultry and pigs. Meanwhile, men and young boys participate in marketing larger ruminants such as cattle and donkeys.
The implication of this system is either a gender disparity by culture, or a Natural behaviour in societies that have since become an instinct. The orientation and upbringing of women and men in Karamoja society makes livelihood systems sustainable and productive, hence building resilience in societies. However, the income gained from livestock by different genders is drawn for the family welfare.
Technology Impact: Pastoralists are not static to change; they use mobile phones, mobile solar for scouting water, pasture and secure rangelands for livestock and humans, and they have further used mobile money networks to reach out to find the current livestock market prices index. Moreover, pastoralists have been using technology increasingly for responding to insecurity incidences around the grazing areas and homesteads. The mobile system has enhanced the amount of financial transactions, so the pastoralists are described now to be “the walking bank for communities both local and cross borders”.
Karamoja Livestock Markets are faced by:
- Limited access to veterinary services
- Increasing land degradation hence limited access to pasture and water in seasonal effect
- Climate Change
- Insecurity across borders
- Limited access to livestock markets information,
- Lack of weigh bridge so as pastoralists livestock traders are monopolized
- Transport systems,
- Underdeveloped market infrastructure.
- Monopoly of livestock market prices
Despite observing a tremendous growth in the system, it is also faced by numerous bottlenecks that cut across the socio-cultural, socio-economic, environmental and political atmosphere which are highly demanding in the sector. The key factor behind the slow development of the sector is heavily attributed to the lack of policies which protect pastoralists from exploitation by outside monopolies and lack of financial support onto the national livestock sector. Due to the above challenges, the livestock sector of Karamoja faces significant encounters which prevent development. The national governments, development partners and interest groups should focus on building on: Social and cultural thinking and practices, Market development, consumer preference and value chains, Natural Resource Management Governance and Tenure security and finally Policy and legislation frameworks.
The development of urban centers in Karamoja arrive with the challenge of unreadiness to manage the waste materials. As positive opportunities flow into the sub region. But for waste materials management it is critical challenge.
Moroto district is one of first track growing towns in North Eastern Uganda (Karamoja sub region) It is also among the nine districts and the old district of Karamoja sub region. Moroto Municipality is the business and administrative center of the sub region. Moroto is a home to hundred thousands of people from whole over Uganda including natives and houses over hundreds of Non Governmental Organizations both international NGOs and cooperation. It is also a center for government regional offices for Karamoja.
Waste material disposal in Moroto Municipality; common wastes are plastics derived from materials found in nature, such as natural gas, oil, coal, minerals and plants. In Moroto town as you walk towards suburbs of Kamshwahili, Kitale Road, all your way from the Hospital lane you will warmly be welcomed by flying squad of vuberas (plastic waste matter of chlorides origin) dumped along the road. It is worst when you reach the central small water catchment separating the up town and the suburb of Kamswhili. In July, 2018 Loupa Pius wrote on facebook tagging the Vice District Chairperson of Moroto Hon. Christine Akot on the dangers of plastics on the environment and it’s features.
The status of Moroto on plastics disposal and management is appealing at it’s tender age of growth. Also tells you that there is limited political will, No attention from public, NGOs and local government departments. Also the municipality has no or unimplemented Environmental Management plan or Byelaws.
The common waste materials in Karamoja: Most of the plastics found in Karamoja are not made in Karamoja, they are foreign to Karamoja. The common plastics are from companies based in urban and cities of Uganda and others are all the way from Europe, India China and USA. The materials that are common are from; Waragi Sackets, Drinking water bottles from Rwenzori Bottling Company, plastics of Mukwano Industries, Riham, and @Nice plastics Uganda and many others. Facebook post quote; “Moroto Municipality, rabish in the Heart of the first City of Karamoja. It’s alarming to see this in town. What is mayor and the Council thinking??? Wake up or you retire forcefully” harmful effects and dangers of failed plastic management are that Plastic bags are not healthy for our soils, water, livestock and human beings and general environment.
- The plastics if eaten by animals leads to death
- If buried in soil; makes it unproductive for crops and pasture.
- If burn’t and acted by high temperatures can produce mix chemicals like the Chloro-carbons or Chlorides that are harmful to the respiratory system of both humans and animals if inhaled.
- If dumped in water bodies or sources or pathways can block water ways, infects domestic water sources, kills aquatic animals, cause floods and can clog water pipes.
Some recommendations for thought:
- Develop or implement the Environmental Action plan and consider sensitization.
- Provide safe places for disposal in every street and every busy corner of the town. e.g the dumping bins/ trash bins.
- The leaders should buy their own water bottles and carry water from home.
- Enact or implement a byelaw.
- Task the business owners and land lords to take full responsibility of their plastics And actions.
- Task and engage NGOs that are the largest consumers of this plastics to take full precautions.
- Take full partnership in implementation of the actions.
If you take up the recommendation then the clean city will be the next home for all of us. “We all deserve a clean and healthy environment to live in”. For details of my previous post of July, 2018 please click link here. Plastics in Moroto Municipality National Environmental Management Authority, Ecological Christian Organization – ECO, @United Nations Convention on biodiversity, United Nations Environmental Programme
The article writen by Loupa Pius, Project officer, DADO.