Karamoja: Amb. Julius Moto on botched valley dams, cattle and incompetent OPM  

(Last Updated On: 23 April 2023)

Lira, April 23, 2023: The government of Uganda with support from development partners has constructed many dams to help the people of Karamoja sub-region with water for people and livestock.

More than shs3.86b was spent to construct 16 dams in Nakapiripirit, Moroto, Kotido and other districts. Of the 16 dams constructed, 3 were washed away by “excessive flooding”, and some were vandalized by the “beneficiaries”.

Even with the above provision, Karamoja sub-region feels they are being neglected by the government and this opinion continues to be proven right as properties meant for the sub-region’s poor people are diverted or shared by some senior government officials.

For example, iron sheets which were procured to support different groups in the Karamoja sub-region became “senior government officials’ goods” with their ringleader, Minister of Karamoja Affairs, Mary Goretti Kitutu acting as “a chief distributor to her senior colleagues”.

As debates continue on Karamoja iron sheets, and continued cattle rustling, Uganda’s former Ambassador to the United Kingdom (UK), Julius Peter Moto shared with us his thoughts on the sub-region.

Ambassador Moto writes, “I don’t know why some people cheapen discussing the issues of Karamoja around iron sheets that were poorly managed by incompetent OPM staffers.”

“The British tried to administer the cultural Karamoja but failed miserably, with annual famine cum cattle rustling over the years of the pre-independence era. The culture and life of Karamoja dwell around the cattle!”

Through a special project, he said, “If need be via a technical cooperation with Botswana and Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the livestock industry of Karamoja can be successfully achieved.”

Botswana is largely a semi dessert, but she exports more quality beef to the EU under everything but the arms quota-free and duty trade protocol of the Cotonou agreement. Uganda can do the same!

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“Government of Uganda should address the question of availability of short-term high-value pasture to the Karamojong once and for all through sustained financial support for at least 10 – 15 years for improvement of pasture and livestock, while stumping put cattle theft among the Karamojong and the surrounding Districts and ensuring that the warriors of western Kenya do not cause havoc under the auspices of the East African Community,” the former envoy advised.

“The mistakes of the botched valley dams, where a colossal sum of moolah (money) was disbursed and no dams were constructed of note, under the office of the former Vice President, must not be repeated.”

The valley dam saga, he added was “another bonanza, whose files have gone cold, henceforth feeding into the impacts of corruption in Uganda.” “As per the 2008 UBOS livestock census, Uganda has approximately 15.7 million herds of cattle compared to Botswana’s 1,600,000. Karamoja has even more cattle than Botswana!”

“Karamoja sub-region had 2.3 million (19.8%) cattle and the rest of Northern Uganda had 1.6 million (14.4 %) just about the exact numbers of cattle in Botswana.”

Botswana has more export value compared to Uganda which has nothing of note, Moto noted, adding that Botswana exports about 9,000 tonnes of beef to the EU and 10,000 tonnes of beef to South Africa.

“It (Botswana) enjoys unlimited preferential market access to the EU, competing with countries such as Brazil. The EU agreement enables Botswana to export beef duty-free and quota-free to the EU. There is no export figure of note of Uganda beef to neighbouring countries.”

The government of Uganda must think properly and invest in pasture improvements in Karamoja, Ambassador has recommended, noting that investment in real valley dams, and improvements of breeds over time with high productivity will settle the Karimojong while streamlining the entire livestock industry and value chains.

Moto wants the corrupt or thieves’ nails cut, or simply, they should be prosecuted.

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