Government has been urged to take affirmative action to improve the livelihoods of Ugandans in the Karamoja sub-region.
Among key interventions, that a committee report noted ought to be taken, include providing adequate options for water for production as well as ensuring security in the region.
Hon. Stella Atyang (NRM, Moroto District Woman Representative) said efforts to improve harvests in Karamoja can be executed through government interventions to improve access to water for food production.
She observed that most of the water schemes in place cater for animals.
“If government would invest in irrigation schemes for Karamoja to provide the people with food, most of the challenges would be reduced including the insecurity,” she said.
Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongoro (NRM, Sheema District Woman Representative) said government must prioritise funding in Karamoja to support efforts to tackle the challenge of food security.
“Israel does not have water but they produce food throughout the year. We should get out of our comfort zone and use irrigation because it is the way to go. We are sitting on a time bomb with population growth if we are not producing enough food,” Nyakikongoro added.
The legislators raised the concerns following the presentation of a report on the famine situation in Karamoja sub-region, during the plenary sitting held on Tuesday, 06 February 2024.
The report by the Committee on Presidential Affairs presented by Chairperson Hon. Jesca Ababiku, highlighted limited water access, insecurity and environmental destruction among the causes of food scarcity in the region.
Ababiku urged government to expedite the completion of ongoing construction of water reservoirs, so as to transform Karamoja into a food secure region.
“Government should also prioritise the maintenance and rehabilitation of existing water reservoirs as well as the desilting of the existing ones where need be,” she added.
According to the committee report, withdrawal of the military, cross-border raids, proliferation of firearms, cattle rustling and delayed disarmament programmes in neighbouring countries has contributed to the intensity of the famine situation in Karamoja.
Ababiku noted that sustainable redeployment and deployment of army officers across the sub-region can ensure security and thus promote food production in the area.
“Government should also intensify the use of modern technology for surveillance to track the movements of rustlers in order to effectively respond to attacks. It should also ensure effective disarmament to get rid of illegal guns and ammunition,” said Ababiku.
Atyang observed that despite government efforts to disarm the region, cattle rustlers from neighbouring districts have taken advantage of porous borders to cross, which has left the Karimojong vulnerable to attacks.
“Government should engage neighbouring countries because there is illicit entry of guns from countries like Kenya and Sudan into Uganda. The Turkana are armed and they are the ones giving the Karimojong guns,” she said.
Hon. Philiphs Lokwang (NRM, Napore West County) said government efforts through affirmative action by educating children in Karamoja can break the circle of cattle raiders and encourage a productive population.
The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, tasked the Ministry for Karamoja Affairs to design a specific affirmative action report for Karamoja that can be discussed by the House.
“We cannot have a complete Uganda without Karamoja. It would be imperative on us to ask for this action report so that we dissect it from the angle of security and the interventions in the agriculture sector,” Tayebwa said.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.