The Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting on cross border pastoralism in Uganda ended without the signing of the final protocol.
The meeting held last week in Entebbe was to see all the seven countries sign an agreement that would allow cross border pastoralism and how individual countries would provide services to pastoralists from each other's territory.
Nomadic pastoralists, especially in border districts, crisscross borders in search of water and pastures for their animals. The protocol which is now scheduled to be signed in December this year, obliges countries to undertake joint investments in services such as education, health and infrastructure such as valley dams among others to help cattle keepers not to be left out of development.
Muchina Munyua, the director of IGAD Center for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development said there is need for the countries to come together because they have many things in common.
"The Pokoti and Turkana in Kenya, the Karamonjong in Uganda, and the Nyagatomi in South Sudan and Ethiopia have very many things in common only separated by the border. If Uganda has invested in a very big dam, Kenya should also do the same such that when the pastoralists in Uganda cross, they use the same services without discrimination," Muynua said.
He added that countries can't keep on saying that they are developing when a big portion of their population have no access to basic services.
"Last year 30,090 cattle from Turkana and the Pokoti came into Uganda. But Uganda told Kenya to bring vaccines and people to vaccinate the animals. When there was an outbreak of polio in Somalia, it was the Kenyans who immunized the Somali children at the border. So, we need these kinds of agreements because the people are the same only separated by borders," Munyua said.
The protocol has 32 articles of which only four were not agreed upon because Ethiopia and Somalia said they needed to consult the federal states that would be affected by the protocol.
"These countries have to recognize cattle corridors so that nobody builds or starts farming in them. Because Igad manages its affairs in consensus; we don't want to leave anyone behind so that's why we had to give them the two months," Munyua said.
He added that they are also very concerned about the cost of cattle rustling on member countries. In a study they carried out last year, it was revealed that Uganda had lost $340 million, Kenya $550 million, South Sudan $2 billion and Sudan $6 billion in cattle rustling.
"When you break down cattle rustling, there are animals that are lost, people who are injured and others killed, property destroyed, trading centres that are totally closed. We should sit and find a solution to this problem," Mutua said.
IGAD brings together countries; Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia.