Another technical team has been established to traverse all the districts affected by the migrant cattle keepers to assess if each is operating in accordance with the guidelines. The assessment of the pastoralists follows the issuance of Executive Order Number 3 by President Yoweri Museveni on May 19th, banning all the pastoralists who illegally entered Northern Uganda, saying some are indisciplined and causing food insecurity.
To implement the executive order, an inter-ministerial technical committee led by Prof. Jack Nyeko Pen Mogi the chairperson of Uganda Land Commission, and deputized by Anthony Akol was formed to help the government better understand the different aspects of the issues contained in Executive Order No.3 of 2023. However, Grace Freedom Kwiyocwiny, the State Minister for Northern Uganda, told journalists in Gulu on Wednesday, that the committee compiled at least 18 complaints as they moved into the field to verify and assess the migrant cattle keepers.
Among the issues identified are; the absence of a letter of no objection from the Veterinary Officer in the district where are currently living, or permits from Veterinary Officers from districts of origin, land conflicts in regards to refusal to complete land purchase or rental obligations, illegal occupation of government land such as Aswa and Maruzi ranches and Got Apwoyo and landless cattle owners whose animals are roaming on people’s land without permission.
Other challenges include; cattle farmers illegally using communal or where land agreement was made by one individual yet the land belongs to the whole community or clan, cattle farmers who have unfenced land and those with incomplete fences, cattle owners without water sources for animals on their land and herdsmen who have rented small pieces of land but with many animals that can’t be sustained by the piece of land, among others.
The findings were arrived at through a verification exercise done from June to August 2023, in Northern and North-Eastern Uganda. The districts include; Amuru, Nwoya, Gulu, and Apac. But also in Otuke, Kapelebyong, Katakwir, Pakwach, Terego, Yumbe, Arua, Adjumani, Moyo and Pader. Kwiyocwiny said so far they have identified 473 cattle owners, who will be assessed individually to ascertain whether they are not violating the guidelines.
Kwiyocwiny reveals that the team will also help ascertain the number of animals being herded in the 899 kraals in the affected areas because it has been hard to get the correct data in the past assessment.
Kwiyocwiny said they had already made a program to move in the affected districts from the 12th-21st of October and met all the security teams including the RDCs, DPCs, UPDF, chief magistrates, and technical people so that they are on the same page and build consensus on what they say about the executive order, however, the exercise was halted after moving only in a few areas in Gulu, due to financial challenges.
Kwiyocwiny said there are sentiments about the process towards the implementation of Executive Order Number 3 of 2023, that is the RDCs in the affected have been instructed to register complaints that will later be sieved and recommend whether they can be solved at the local or ministry level. She appealed to district, traditional, and religious leaders to endeavor to ensure that the ballot question was solved legally and amicably.
She also revealed that President Museveni is expected to be in the Acholi, which is the epicenter of the migrant cattle keepers from 20th October to 15th November to meet more people to understand the issues better.
The deadline to evict the migrant cattle keepers from Northern Uganda has been extended thrice since the executive order was issued.