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Mou Signing on Cross- Border Peace Underway in Moroto

The activity, ongoing at Naitakwae Play Ground in Moroto is expected to accord communities on the Kenya and Ugandan sides of the border opportunities for better co-operation, close coordination and peaceful coexistence. The MoU is also envisaged to bridge isolation gaps to improve livelihood and socio-economic conditions for sustainable peace and development in Karamoja, Turkana and West Pokot.
Some of the Turkana Men at Naitakwae Grounds in Moroto waiting for the MoU signing.
President Yoweri Museveni and his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta are slated to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to launch the joint cross-border integrated programme for sustainable peace and social economic transformation of the Turkana and West Pokot of Kenya and Karamoja in Uganda.

The memorandum is expected to accord communities on the Kenya and Ugandan sides of the border opportunities for better co-operation, close coordination and peaceful coexistence. The MoU is also envisaged to bridge isolation gaps to improve livelihood and socio-economic conditions for sustainable peace and development in Karamoja, Turkana and West Pokot.

Both regions are inhabited by pastoral communities from the Turkana and Pokot from Kenya and Karimojong of Uganda that share the same socio-cultural as well as dialectic roots.  Pastoralism is the dominant socio-economic activity and source of livelihood for most of the population.  The area is highly vulnerable to climatic variations such as drought that renders communities perennially food-insecure and limits their livelihood options.

On the Ugandan side, these vulnerabilities were compounded, in part, by colonial land policies such as gazettement of fertile grazing land as wildlife conservation areas and forest reserves, accounting for 52.4% of the total land area. During the dry season, the pastoralists are compelled to migrate to other areas to access pasture and water points, often crossing national and international boundaries.  

Climatic variations and related resource scarcities have led to frequent violent conflicts among the pastoral communities, and often, with their non-pastoral neighbors. These conflicts are exacerbated by ethnic rivalries. According to the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, the insecurity further restricts access to resources, threatening the livelihoods of communities already vulnerable to drought. 

However, despite alarming socio- economic indicators in the two regions, they are endowed with vast resources and wealth. In Karamoja, there are over 50 different economic minerals, including gold, silver, copper, iron, gemstones, limestone and marble. This makes it one of the most prospective areas of the country attracting over 20 foreign and Ugandan owned companies conducting exploration and mining.

In Kenya, despite its huge potential in tourism, livestock and minerals subsectors, Turkana and West Pokot Sub Regions contribution to the national gross domestic product is still low at 1.8 percent. The signing of the MoU at Naitakwae Play Ground in Moroto later today is expected to strengthen joint mechanisms for cross-border peace building, community resilience, and conflict prevention, management and resolution.

It is also expected enhance investments and access to social services in the Karamoja cluster with a focus on children, youth and women. The MoU is also expected to Increase collaboration in sustainable environment and utilization of shared natural resources among others. By the time of filing this story, a big delegation comprising ministers, diplomats, legislators and local leaders from both regions had arrived at the venue, awaiting the arrival of the two presidents. 

The function has, however, been delayed by the heavy downpour that has lasted more than one hour.