Pastoralism is estimated to be the main livelihood of 268 million people in Africa, and is critically dependent on mobility which facilitates the use of transient resources in areas of high and seasonal rainfall, ecological, and nutritional variability. Thirty percent of the 268 million is located in east Africa and the horn of Africa. These landscapes are not confined within state boundaries but require cross-border movement. Movement patterns vary in line with the context, livestock type, season, and decisions taken by the family unit; and are changing, particularly due to increased competition over land, demographics, and economic, environmental, and policy pressures.
Across the Horn and East Africa, the peripheral status of pastoral regions is changing. In recent years, these arrangements have come under increasing pressure due to a multitude of factors, including climate change-induced reduction of grazable land, water scarcity, food insecurity, socioeconomic challenges, demographics, limitations of peripheral rule of law, and the influence of armed and violent extremist groups, further provoking cross-border population movements. Where traditional transhumance routes are disregarded by herders or blocked by farmers, encroachment onto farmlands often results, which sometimes trigger conflict. Conflict among herders themselves over water scarcity is also common. This has led to rapidly escalating tensions and conflicts that have claimed thousands of lives amongst herders and farming communities, including women and children.
It is against this background that the efforts of IGAD are considered relevant, timely and appropriate in averting potential crisis in the pastoralism. Similarly, the huge economic contribution of pastoralism to the regional and national GDP is enhanced. Though faced with challenges of COVID-19 pandemic, substantive milestones were achieved the Protocol was finally endorsed by the IGAD Committee of Ambassadors in February 2020 in Khartoum, Republic of Sudan. The endorsement was followed by development of an Implementation Roadmap by High-Level Experts and Adoption of the same by the IGAD Ministers responsible for Livestock and Pastoral Development at Entebbe, Uganda in November 2020. On 24th June 2021, the 72nd Session of the IGAD Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs adopted both Protocols on Free Movement of Persons and Transhumance in IGAD Region and their Implementation Roadmaps. It is based on the foregoing that the ICPALD organized a 2 day High-Level Legal and Policy Experts Meeting which was held between 14th– 15th July 2022 at the Best Western Hotel, Entebbe, Republic of Uganda.
The primary purpose of the Ugandan High Level National meeting was to provide an opportunity to all the stakeholders, policy organs of the Republic of Uganda and their relevant institutions in sensitizing them on the protocol on Transhumance. This further accorded them a chance for ratification and domestication. The IGAD Secretariat organized the high-Level Meeting in the Republic of the Uganda with the following specific objectives:
- Accord the stakeholders an opportunity to adopt the Protocol on Transhumance by the IGAD Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs through signing by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in line with the 72nd Communique that Adopts the Protocol.
- Engage key legislators, policymakers and technical partners/stakeholders towards ratification and domestication of the Protocol.
- Initiate process of developing national pastoral code by key legislators, policymakers, and technical partners / stakeholders.
Outcome of the Mission
The Uganda high level National Meeting for the Ratification and Domestication of the IGAD Protocol on Transhumance successfully achieved outcomes as follows;
1. Sensitization on the Confirmation & Adoption of the Protocol on Transhumance.
2. Engagement with Uganda State agencies ratification and domestication of the Protocol.
3. Signing of the Free Movement of Persons & Transhumance Protocols.
Recommendations and Way Forward
While calling upon the relevant Ministries to fast-track the ratification process and to table the protocol to the National Assembly for domestication, the representative of Uganda National Assembly and Line Ministries at the national meeting made the following recommendations:
- Conduct a Regulatory Impact Assessment to determine the appropriate legislative direction to pave way for the legislative procedure.
- Commit to domesticate the IGAD Protocol on Transhumance based on the regulatory Impact assessment.
- Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment for the enactment of policies on transhumance.
- Conduct sensitization of the relevant government and policy makers to enhance informed decision making.
- Promote wider Community engagement and sensitization of the stakeholders including pastoralists, agro-pastoralists, border communities, duty bearers and other relevant stakeholders on the importance of the protocol.
- Propose to hold an exchange learning mission to another region where transhumance protocol implementation has been working.
- Enhance the community resource sharing agreements and cross-border MoUs to include implementation modalities of the Protocol provisions, through cluster and cross border committee that include local governments and communities, investment opportunities, seasonal mobility, conflict resolution mechanisms, rights and obligations of herders etc.
- Work with the Ministry of Justice towards harmonization of laws and regulations on small arms control among the member countries.
- Strengthen conflict resolution and settlement of disputes among the cluster communities while complementing existing community efforts.
- Technical support from IGAD/ICPALD for the development of national policies and piloting programs.