25 October 2011

Uganda: Pastoralists Demand Cross-Border Markets

Karimojong and Turkana pastoralists have asked the governments of Uganda and Kenya and donors to directly support cross-border infrastructural development.

The pastoralists said the construction of cross-border markets and valley dams along the border between the two countries would help unite the pastoralists, end cattle rustling and promote trade between the two communities.

The idea was mooted on Friday at the cross- border peace meeting organised by Mercy Corps Uganda, held at Nawountos in West Turkana in Kenya. "These two governments are aware that we the pastoralists are surrounded by many challenges especially water for our animals and that is the source of conflicts between us, but instead of them stepping in and help us to address it, they keep quiet and talk about peace without knowing that peace will not be achieved without water," said John Longoria, a Turkana pastoralist from Kenya.

Mr Lote Lokut, a Karimojong pastoralist from Kaabong District, suggested that the two governments should jointly construct a valley dam at the border between Kenya and Uganda to provide water for livestock of the two communities. He said the valley dam could bring peace between the Karimojong and Turkana.

The meeting was attended by the Kenyan Minister of Labour, Mr John Munyes, who is also Member of Parliament for Turkana North, and the Member of Parliament for Dodoth East in Karamoja sub-region, Mr Samson Lokeris.

Mr Lokeris and Mr Munyes promised to lobby their respective governments to implement the pastoralists' proposals. Mr Lokeris pledged to work hand-in-hand with Kenyan leaders to end the age-old cross-border conflict. "We are the people's servants, so we must support what they believe can enhance peace between them," Mr Lokeris said.

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