Uganda MPs embark on journey through Kenya’s and Ethiopia’s cattle corridor

08/10/2013 - 

From glowing green hills to dusty prairie fields - through the window of the car seven parliamentarians  (MPs) from Karamoja, Uganda, watch how the dramatic Kenyan landscape is changing. The MPs are on a learning trip to experience how local communities in Kenya and Ethiopia are surviving under dire circumstances and what coping mechanisms they have in place.

The journey of 1350km from Nairobi to Addis Ababa – with over 350 km over rough roads – goes straight through Kenya’s and Ethiopia’s cattle corridor. According to Simon Peter Aleper, MP for Moroto in Karamoja, the journey has made him see his own municipality through different lenses.

“At one point we traveled through a long stretch of desert. We didn’t even see a tree, yet people lived here! How do they survive? I’ve come to realize that the situation in Karamoja is not that bad. We have water, pasture, trees…” 

The field mission was set up through the RISPA project, an initiative supported by the European Union to strengthen vulnerable communities through better policies. The seven MPs were invited by IGAD and the FAO Subregional Emergency Office for Eastern & Central Africa, the main implementers of RISPA. During the five-day trip, the caravan visited local projects on drought preparedness. 

 “One of the main lessons I have learned is that we are missing coordination in Karamoja. How do we streamline the plans that come from the ministries down to grass root level? We want to have a situation where in case of a disaster the ministries of water, of agriculture, of health, and of Karamoja work together and come up with a collective responsive action.”

As a first step Simon is planning to share his experiences with his constituency to try and shift people’s minds.

“When we go back we will first create awareness and tell our people: you have been gifted by nature. I will tell our people that what we have seen in Kenya is a lot worse, but these people are moving forward. We need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and start working!”

The Regional initiative in support of vulnerable pastoralists and agropastoralists in the Horn of Africa  (RISPA) aims to reduce the vulnerability of (agro)pastoralist communities by integrating top-down and bottom-up  approaches to strengthen coping mechanisms on the ground and across the region. Activities are ongoing the local,  national and regional levels.

Implemented by FAO in partnership with the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development  (IGAD) and funded by the European Union, RISPA is facilitating the consolidation of cross-border development and contingency plans through traditional  institutions with endorsement from the national governments involved. 

Submitted by: Veronique Verlinden
Topics: Pastoralism
Country: Uganda