Rakai — A row has erupted between livestock farmers and a landlord in Kizinga Parish, Kyalulangira Sub-county in Rakai District.
The bone of contention originates from a footpath which livestock farmers claim was blocked by Mr Kagogolo Byaruhanga thus denying them access to a nearby swamp where their cattle are watered.
According to Mr Jackson Harera, a livestock farmer in the area, more than 3,000 head of cattle, 100 goats and 50 sheep are watered from the swamp daily.
"The landlord has encroached on the access path leaving no way for the livestock, we ask authorities to prevail over him before our livestock die due to lack of water," Mr Harera said on Wednesday.
He said most private valley dams dug in the area dried up due to the current dry spell and the swamp is the only available source of water.
"... so blocking the way to the swamp touches the nerves of the entire community and will soon spark off unending fights among locals if not resolved," he added
Mr Robert Kanyete, the chairperson of Nyekundiere Famer's Association, yesterday told this newspaper that livestock farmers will not wait to see their animals die.
"We are convening a meeting this week to discuss the matter with the landlord, but as of now, we have resolved to forcefully use the pathway because we have nowhere get water from," he said.
But Mr Byaruhanga said the disputed piece of land is part of his farmland and not a footpath.
"As the owner of the land, I reserve all rights to use my land. I can't seek permission from anyone, if they want to continue using it as footpath, let them compensate me," he said.
The livestock farmers also castigated their political leaders for failing to lobby government to construct water dams in the area which has made them suffer during dry spells.
"I don't see the reason why we vote because our leaders don't help us whenever we are in need .They have failed even to lobby government to construct valley dams which forces us to move long distances with our cows looking for water during dry season," Mr Kanyete added.
Mr Elisa Ruhuga, a livestock farmer, said whenever they migrate to other areas in search for water and pasture, their animals are exposed to diseases while some die on the way. Mr Wangi Ssemanda, the Kyalulangira Sub-county chairperson, dismissed allegations that local leaders have not helped livestock farmers, saying he was working closely with other leaders to address the problem.
"We are aware of the wrangle and we are engaging the two parties to restore harmony," he said.
Kyalurangira is one of the 11 sub-counties in Rakai District and is mostly dominated by cattle keepers.
However, the area is water-stressed and during dry spells, with livestock farmers moving to neigbouring sub-counties or cross to neigbouring Tanzania in search for water and pasture.