For decades, migratory communities in the region along the Kenya and Uganda boundary have not known meaningful peace.
The search for pasture and water for their livestock, their main source of livelihood, has bred deadly conflicts through competition for the scarce resources leading to rampant rustling.
Because of regular conflict, neighbours have harboured enmity that has denied them the opportunity to enjoy meaningful cross-border trade.
But there is hope, with President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Uganda counterpart Yoweri Museveni expected in Moroto District today to witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
The two Heads of State are expected to sign a pact that will end hostilities and cement co-existence of communities along the border region.
If the MoU holds, it will herald a fresh start for a joint cross-border integrated programme aimed at invigorating the socio-economic transformation of pastoralist communities in the country’s Turkana and Pokot counties, and Karamoja in Uganda.
These communities face similar challenges such as drought, hunger, cattle rustling, cross-border conflict, and lack of water and pasture for livestock. These challenges have resulted in underdevelopment.
The agreement will also focus on ending the proliferation of firearms, which have helped to aggravate the conflict.
Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok yesterday said the agreement would support peace and security efforts along the border where the three pastoralist communities live.
“The MoU is a breakthrough whose idea was mooted by the leaders of sub-national governments during cross-border peace initiatives, key among them the recent annual Tobong’u Lore Cultural and Tourism Festival,” said Mr Nanok in Lodwar town.
He added: “Of importance to our communities is that the joint cross-border integrated programme will support infrastructural development along the borderlands, key being water, which will in turn reduce the conflicts that we have been dealing with for years.”
He said one of the key benefits of the agreement would be attraction of the support of development partners to complement the efforts of the two governments to improve the livelihoods of their people.
“This programme is supported by the United Nations as part of the global commitment to alleviate socio-economic challenges through apt response to issues affecting cross-border regions.”
The treaty, Nanok stated, will enable the communities to share social service facilities and resources as well as economic infrastructures for businesses.
“It will facilitate peaceful cross-border movements of livestock in search of pasture and water during drought on either side of the border,” the governor stated.
Karamoja Affairs Minister John Byabagambi, while addressing the just-concluded Tobong’u Lore Cultural Festival at Ekalees center in Lodwar, said the MoU would enhance cooperation and closer coordination of cross-border issues.
“This initiative will enhance peaceful co-existence in the cross-border region by addressing resource-based conflicts, including cattle rustling, and improve the livelihoods of the communities,” said the minister.
The treaty will also see the two countries use existing government structures to put in place a programme management unit comprising a programme coordinator in a lead role supported by technical sector coordinators.
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