August 25, 2023 (LODWAR, Kenya) The IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development, with financial support of IOM, held a two-day dialogue session on transhumance, peace and security between Turkana (Kenya) and Karamoja (Uganda).
In attendance were Members of Parliament, National and County Government Officials, Community Leaders, Women Representatives, Local NGOs, Security Personnel and Co-partners (PPG Secretariat, International Alert & IOM).
The meeting deliberated on the drivers of cross border conflicts and came up with resolutions to address the challenges of cross border transhumance and insecurity. Touching on the Ugandan Executive Order No. 3 of 19th May 2023, participants expressed the desire for lasting peace which will enhance protection of both community members and livestock, orderly sharing of resources, promote trade and build social interactions within the two communities.
Stating that rustling should be treated as organized crime, Dr. Adan Bika, ICPALD’s Head of Dryland Development and Climate Change Adaptation, noted that “regular contact between government officers on both sides should be maintained so that we stay ahead of the criminals.”
Honorable Edukon Stephen Ekamais, MCA of Turkwel ward, said “We as the Kenya government are committed to seating down and doing what is indicated in the executive order as requirements. As leaders, we innovate ways to deal with the problems that are there. Let’s give Kenya, let’s give Uganda the modern shape that we admire, other than having issues of disagreements.”
In agreement, Honorable Abraham Lokii, Member of Parliament for Jie County, Kotido District Uganda said, “Let the Turkana leaders sit with the people and reflect on what response you can to give this situation”. He also urged the Turkana leaders to view the Executive Order as an administrative measure and not as a threat. He further said, “The Government of Uganda is a Pan Africanist country. We believe in the East African Community. We believe in good neighborliness and wish to live in order and harmony”.
The IGAD Transhumance protocol aims to promote peaceful co-existence between cross border communities, which necessitates engaging the political leaders and the communities across the two countries, to contribute to their peaceful co-existence. It is hoped that once implemented, these recommendations (click here) will ease domestication of the transhumance protocol in this cross-border area, which is also referred to as IGAD cluster 1.
The challenges faced by the pastoralist communities living in arid areas have become more dynamic due to the increased drought frequency and its effect on pastoral mobility (transhumance) and ethnic conflicts. IGAD cluster 1, which comprises the border areas of Karamoja in Uganda, Turkana and West Pokot in Kenya, South Kapoeta in South Sudan and the SNNPR1 in Ethiopia. The border area between Kenya and Uganda (in particular between Turkana and Karamojong communities) has experienced lethal conflicts in past months. Uncontrolled and uncoordinated cross-border transhumance has been associated with conflicts, uncontrolled illegal trade, poor health conditions and inadequate services for the communities. The border areas of Kenya and Uganda have been afflicted by endemic armed conflicts between the Turkana and Karamojong communities. Interactions between the two communities often manifest in sharing of natural resources for livestock production, informal trade, and socio-cultural relations. The area is often characterized by tensions leading to ongoing armed conflicts associated mainly with livestock thefts and raids across their border areas. Weak presence of government security and widespread availability of arms and ammunition in the area has made conflict lethal in this cross-border ecosystem. Turkana herders survive mainly by grazing their livestock in Karamoja grassland areas in Uganda. Currently, the Turkana herders are awaiting evacuation by the Uganda government following the recent executive order No. 3 of 2023 issued by His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of the Republic of Uganda. The President has threatened dire action in retaliation for the death of five Ugandans at the hands of those claimed to be bandits from Turkana. The Executive Order dated May 19, directs expulsion of all Kenyan Turkanas from the country if the directives issued are not adhered to in six months time. The Executive Order will have a negative effect on the 50 years’ peace accord between the Ateker communities led by the Turkana of Kenya and Karamojong of Uganda and the effort put in place to sustain peaceful coexistence between Ateker communities. The Order is also a threat to the smooth implementation of the IGAD Protocol on Transhumance between the two communities. The IGAD transhumance protocol is a policy that will guide grazing and movement of livestock along international borders to achieve long-term peace among the pastoralists in the IGAD Member States. This policy is envisaged to lead to the signing of the treaty that will help the pastoralists to understand and appreciate the importance of respecting the existing customary law on boundaries.
Links to the Protocol: