By Frank Kamuntu
Presidents Yoweri kaguta Museveni and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a joint cross-border integrated programme for sustainable peace and social-economic transformation, for inter-border communities living in areas like the Turkana area, West Pokot and Karamoja sub-region.
Museveni and Kenyatta signed the MOU in the northern Uganda district of Moroto. The idea of signing the MOU started last year on August 31, 2018, in Nairobi and a number of meetings have been held by technical and political leaders in collaboration with Uited Nations country teams, IGAD and development partners.
The meetings recommended the development of the MOU and framework aimed at economically empowering the local communities through a mix of social-economic transformative programmes. Through the MOU both communities on the Kenyan and Ugandan sides can now harness opportunities for better cooperation, close coordination and peaceful coexistence.
The initiative also envisages bridgin isolation gaps and improving livelihoods and socio-economic conditions for sustainable peace and development.
However, key in the MOU is that it aims at fostering peace, by eradicating constant cattle ruslting attacks by the Turkana and Pokot against Karimojong.
It will also curtail the proliferation of small and other illegal arms from Kenya into Uganda and vice versa vigilance of security teams from both countries.
Eugene Wamalwa, Kenya’s cabinet secretary of devolution, said, “The MOU is going to facilitate peaceful coexistence between the pastoral communities across border.”
The Karamoja Affairs minister, John Byabagambi said; “The peace agreement is an aid to the realization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the two counties. The MOU has already facilitated procurement of vehicles especially for security, ambulances and solar panels for the communities across the borders.”
Karamoja, Turkana, and West Pokot rate among the most underdeveloped sub-regions in Uganda and Kenya amid vast resources especially minerals. Tribes from both countries have also engaged in cattle rustlings against each other.
Statistical evidence indicates that Karamoja poverty levels stand at 62% of the total population, far above the national average of 21.4%. Besides, 70% of the population is food insecure below the national food insecurity average of 37%.
In Turkana and West Pokot, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics puts the regions at 68.4% of the population below the poverty line, compared to a national average of 36.1% (KIBHS, 2016.)
The report also indicates that many households in the region suffer from low availability and access to food and water resources; resulting in high levels of chronic and acute food insecurity and malnutrition.