Reduced conflict in the east of Uganda, a key programme area for Irish Aid, is opening the way for more investment.
A recent study by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) found conflict between pastoral groups in the Karamoja Cluster has reduced over the last five years.
This area covers north-eastern Uganda, and also the cross-border region with Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia. On-going violence linked to cattle-raiding had caused internal migration and prevented the region from developing in line with other areas of Uganda.
This is exacerbated by natural disasters as the region is also prone to heavy flooding and drought.
The Karamoja region is where Irish Aid’s work in Uganda is concentrated. When I visited their office in Kampala, head of development Keith Gristock told me they had decided to focus on certain areas.
“That was a conscious decision. We (international aid groups) undertook a division of labour, there was an analysis of who is doing what. So rather than spreading ourselves thinly in every sector, we got more involved with justice, education and HIV/AIDS,’ he said.
The Karamoja programme focuses on solving problems causing by cattle rustling and aims to protect a nomadic lifestyle in the face of deep social change. The Ugandan government’s Ministry of Karamoja Affairs also run several programmes in the region aimed at decreasing food insecurity, and improving infrastructure.
Speaking in the Ugandan capital Kampala at the launch of a regional framework on conflict prevention, Ugandan First Lady Janet Museveni said improved food production was crucial.
“We have seen a new dawn, where communities now experience peace. We are now seriously engaged in food production and infrastructure development,” she said.
Niamh Griffin travelled to Uganda with support from the Simon Cumbers Media Fund The fund was set up in memory of Irish journalist Simon Cumbers. In June 2004, at the age of 36, Cumbers was shot dead in Saudi Arabia while working with the BBC.