Uganda: IGAD Can Learn From Karamoja

editorial

Kampala, last week, hosted the the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) conference to launch a regional strategy on Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN).

The conference was presided over by Uganda's First Lady and Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Mrs. Janet Museveni.

IGAD's headquarters are in Djibouti and has a land size bigger than that of the European Union and a population of about 188 million people.

The regional body, whose members include Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda has many challenges.

Recurring and severe droughts, natural disasters, widespread famine and hunger, ecological degradation and economic hardships.

This is coupled with land and border disputes, conflicts driven by natural resource competition, food insecurity, climate change, religious and ethnic conflicts, systemic political conflicts among other issues.

The Kampala meeting largely sought to find a solution on cross-border conflicts, with the launch of CEWARN.

Delegates and "experts" gave lengthy "treatise" on the diagnostics and rather 'academic and intellectual' solutions to this region's problems.

It was very interesting to see Mrs. Museveni give a passionate lecture on many practical things she and the government has done in Uganda's Karamoja region which has suffered from decades of problems described earlier.

Karamoja region, which is about 10% of Uganda's land size (Roughly the size of Rwanda or Burundi), has gone through major catastrophes. The region is now producing its own food, cattle rustling is at its least, the migrant pastoralist communities have new solutions, there is less conflict and the population has been rallied to production and development.

In the conference, Mrs. Museveni told IGAD delegates that "Instead of using these funds for seminars on 'conflict analysis and facilitation' we should just use those same resources to provide our people with food production means."

She was right. There should be more action than talk. IGAD should go to Karamoja and see firsthand what the people with the right strategies can do to chase away conflict and confusion. That is not just an early warning strategy. That is a strategy that works has lasting impact!

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