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Gulu Starts Evicting Errant Migrant Cattle Keepers :: Uganda Radionetwork

Gulu Starts Evicting Errant Migrant Cattle Keepers

Gulu District according to a report from the District Veterinary Department has a total of 54, 363 herds of cattle but 48.63 percent of them belong to the migrant cattle keepers, the Balaalo group of people.
Herds of cattle being driven off from Palaro trading centre to the holding ground for trnsportation on Monday November 27,2023-Photo By Simon Wokorach
The joint security forces comprising the Uganda People's Defence Forces, Uganda Police Force-UPF, and sister agencies, have initiated the enforcement of a Presidential directive to evict non-compliant cattle keepers in Gulu district. The two-month operation, in line with Presidential Directive number (3) issued by President Museveni in May this year, commenced in Gulu on Monday, November 27, 2023, starting from Palaro Sub County. 

On the inaugural day, 257 herds of cattle were evicted from two separate farms in Awal-Aboro within Palaro Sub County due to non-compliance with the stipulated guidelines for animal farms. The guidelines outlined in the directive mandated migrant cattle keepers, referred to as the Balao group, to fence off their grazing lands within the operational districts from the North. 

Each farm was required to have four strands of fencing, providing 3 acres of land per cow. Those occupying government lands were subject to eviction. Cosmas James Okidi, the Acting Gulu Resident District Commissioner, emphasized that the evictions targeted migrant cattle keepers who breached the guidelines. He cautioned locals against taking the law into their hands during the exercise, ensuring a peaceful and lawful eviction supervised by the security team.   

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The evicted animals were directed to the Ade livestock market in Palaro, designated as the holding grounds. “The cattle keepers will meet the cost of keeping these animals from the holding ground but the animals which shall not be transported shall be auctioned,” Okidi told Uganda Radio Network.    Christopher Okidi, Chairperson of Gulu District local government, expressed confidence in meeting the timeline for implementing the directive. 

“The 60 days will even be much for us and we have enough manpower which shall see us completing this task within one month,” Ateker disclosed on Tuesday morning in an interview.   According to the District Veterinary Department's report, Gulu District hosts a total of 54,363 herds of cattle, with 48.63 percent owned by migrant cattle keepers (Balalo group). 

Palaro Sub County, the focal area of cattle farms, has 11,023 herds of cattle, with 5,360 attributed to the Balalo, grazing on an estimated 11,077.65 acres of land. Approximately 75 migrants have been found in other 10 Sub Counties, herding cattle, goats, and sheep in areas with unidentified ownership. Minister for Northern Uganda, Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, disclosed in a recent interview that over 80,000 herds of cattle belonging to the Balalo are within Northern Uganda. 

She emphasized the immediate eviction of those within government lands, marking the commencement of the directive's first phase focusing on non-compliant individuals, ensuring sustainable enforcement. “The first phase of implementation is starting off with those who aren’t compliant and it must be sustainable but those within the government lands must leave immediately,” she told Journalists.