Ntoroko — Cattle keepers in Ntoroko District have lost more than 500 head of cattle following drought since January.
Pastoralists and residents trek between 6kms and 10kms daily searching for water from Semliki, Wasa (inside Tooro Semliki Wildlife Reserve), Muzizi and Makondo rivers.
"The place is very dry; we have lost more than 500 cows since January due to lack of pasture and water for our cattle and this has put us in a dangerous situation," Mr Charles Mujungu Kasoro, the chairperson of Rwebisengo Cattle Keepers Association, said on Monday.
Mr Kasoro said market prices of cows have also reduced since the animals look frail.
The most affected areas are Rwebisengo, Kibuuku, Kanaara and Bweramule sub-counties.
"President Museveni pledged to provide us with safe water from River Muzizi but we have never seen anything and yet every year, we lose our cows to starvation," Mr Kasoro said.
President Museveni made the promise during the 2016 presidential campaigns.
Mr Timothy Kyamanywa, the district chairperson, said the drought and floods have increased the cost of fighting malaria, especially among children as the drugs are running out.
Mr Meshack Byomuntura, a research officer at Rwenzori Anti-Corruption Coalition, said the situation has been compounded by the incomplete construction of four boreholes in Rwebisengo and Butungama sub-counties.
"The communities have to move to River Semliki to fetch water for animals and domestic use," Mr Byomuntura said.
"Our findings revealed that there were gaps in the procurement process that has contributed to the delay for construction of boreholes since last year, especially at Budiba, Kiranga and Majumba," he added.
When asked about the procurement gaps, Mr Simon Bimbona, the chief administrative officer, said: "We have just finalised with the process of getting a new contractor and he will soon begin works."
Mr Robert Musinguzi, the district water officer, blamed the problem on limited funding.
"Ntoroko is a highly water stressed area and we are constrained by the little funds we get from government. This financial year, we got Shs194m for water sources development and rehabilitation but in the next financial year, we expect Shs277m," Mr Musinguzi said.