The Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Nabbanja Robinah has called for the audit of the investments and funds that have been pumped into the Karamoja sub-region for quite some time to improve the livelihoods of the people there.
Nabbanja led an inter-ministerial team to meet leaders of Karamoja and Acholi to lay strategies on addressing the pressing issues in the region, especially insecurity caused by cattle rustlers.
Nabbanja said that for many years, a lot of funds have been pumped into the Karamoja region, but the impact cannot be visibly seen.
“For many years the government of Uganda and other development partners have been pumping money into this region, but it appears there hasn’t been evidence of impact. What could be the problem? We need to audit and monitor the investments and funds sent in the region,” Nabbanja emphasized.
Addressing the leaders Nabbanja emphasized that the NRM government prioritizes the development of Karamoja region and a lot of resources have been pumped into the region.
The premier expressed her concern while meeting the UPDF top commanders in the area, Anti-Stock Theft Unit Police, Members of Parliament, LC V and LC III chairpersons, and Resident District Commissioners (RDC) among other local leaders at Hotel Africana in Moroto.
Nabbanja extended her sympathies to the people of Karamoja that are faced with the continued dry spell which caused food insecurity and cattle rustling challenge.
“The insecurity and hunger in the region were raised by the area MPs on the floor of Parliament, adding that the OPM technical team is on the ground to assess further the situation,” she said.
Nabbanja said that the team will produce a report on the alleged deaths as a result of hunger which has been a concern of many people.
She said through the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees the issues were also brought to Cabinet with a request of sh135b for a response, however, due to budgetary constraints, the Ministry of Finance was able to release sh20b for emergency response at the moment.
Nabbanja also said that the government has been doing emergency responses in the region for a long time, but it’s high time they focused on long-term solutions to ensure sustainable food production.
“The giving of relief food to the people hit by hunger is not sustainable and as a government we are considering measures that can help the people grow their own food,” said Nabbanja.
During the same meeting, Esther Anyakun, the state minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees said according to the Food Security Assessment conducted in April 2022, in nine districts of the Karamoja sub-region, 517,800 people representing 41% of the population were at risk of food insecurity between March – July 2022.
She said the food insecurity in the region has been increasing for the past three years.
“In 2020, the food insecurity was recorded at 27% and it increased to 30% in 2021 and later 41% in 2022 with the worst affected districts including Kotido, Kaabong, and Moroto,” Anyakun said.
She attributed the food insecurity in the region to the poor rainfall performance across the regions, lack of quality agricultural inputs, seasonal crop pests/diseases, destruction of crops by wildlife, continued secondary impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, very poor levels of food consumption among children of six-23 months, with minimum acceptable diet as low as 0.0% in some districts among others.
The minister for security Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi told the leaders that it’s the NRM government when it came to power that undertook all the efforts to develop Karamoja and erased the colonial phrase of we shall not wait for Karamoja to develop.
“The past governments including the colonial masters had left behind Karamoja and even had a saying ‘We shall not wait for Karamoja to develop’. All this was changed by the NRM government to ensure that all regions in the country develop at the same rate,” said Muhwezi.
The minister for Tourism, wildlife and antiquities Col. Tom Butime assured the people in Karamoja that his ministry will secure them from wild animals but also compensate them in case of any attacks.
“Parliament approved a budget this financial year to erect an electric fence to deter wild animals from attacking the people and destroying their gardens,” said Butime.
He however asked the people of Karamoja and Acholi to preserve wildlife for posterity.
The minister of state for Agriculture Maj. (Rtd) Bwino Kyakulaga said that government has both short term, medium and long term interventions for Karamoja to tackle the prevailing challenges of hunger and drought.
The 3rd division commander of the UPDF Brig. Gen. Joseph Balikudembe said that some politicians have been interfering with their operations to pacify Karamoja and even quoted the Bible for the success of the operations.
The Deputy Inspector General of the Uganda Police Force-UPF Major General, Geoffrey Tumusiime Kasigazi said that police deployment especially the Anti-Stock Theft Unit has greatly helped in curtailing cattle wrestling in Karamoja.
In a related development the prime minister accompanied by the security minister met the Turkana County governor from Kenya Jeremiah Ekamais Lomorukai who lauded president Yoweri Museveni and the government of Uganda for the peace interventions in East Africa.