Turkana Deputy Governor Peter Lotethiro has underscored the need by the Kenya and Uganda to fast-track improvement of the road infrastructure to promote resource sharing and boost cross-border trade in the Karamoja region.
Lotethiro said that the region had huge potential for business investment but decried perennial conflict by pastoralist communities in the Karamoja cluster that he said had dragged the area behind in terms of development.
The Deputy Governor was speaking on Thursday in Moroto during a meeting on strengthening collaboration and engagement on peaceful coexistence between communities living at the border of Kenya and Uganda.
Lotethiro assured officials from Uganda of the County Government’s commitment towards implementation of a Peace Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by Presidents Kenyatta and Museveni in 2019 on sustainable Peace and Development in the Karamoja cluster.
A scramble for limited pasture and water points as well as existence of illegal firearms among herders has been identified as the main cause of conflict along the border.
The DG said, “Limited education among the pastoralists is part of the conflict root-cause and the County Government has tasked the Sub-County administrators to strengthen peace building programs and empowerment of peace committees to preach conflict at the border.”
Uganda Minister of State for Karamoja Affairs Kizige Moses lauded the County Government leaders for their spirited efforts to return livestock whenever stolen by cattle rustlers from Turkana, and called for replication of the same effort from their Uganda counterparts.
He said that regular talks and sensitization from both Governments will not only cement the East Africa Federation spirit of free movement and trade in the region but maintain law and order.
The Ugandan Minister said a disarmament exercise for people with illegal guns on both sides will reduce conflict and spur socio-economic development.
County Secretary Peter Eripete said the Covid-19 pandemic had slowed peace engagement and urged leaders from the region to utilize the recently launched UNDP’s Africa Borderland Centre to unlock the social-economic potential of the region.
Also present from the County Government were Deputy Director for Peace Building and Conflict management John Lokooli, Advisor for Security, Peace and Borderland Initiatives Protus Akuja as well as Sub-County Administrators Joshua Napoco (Turkana West) and Robinson Kotol (Loima).
by Peter Gitonga