Uganda, Kenya agree a peace pact for marginalized Karamoja, Turkana, Pokot border region

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KARAMOJA, Uganda

The two neighbouring east African nations of Uganda and Kenya have signed an agreement that looks to promote cross-border peace and development among the Karimojong, Turkana and Pokot communities.

President Yoweri Museveni and his visiting Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday witnessed the signing of the pact in Moroto district, north-east of the capital Kampala.

The relationship of the three neighbouring communities has been far from harmonious.
But with the new UN-supported programme dubbed Cross-Border Sustainable Peace and Development, it is hoped tensions will significantly reduce.
In the general context, the idea is to spur development in the region by promoting non-violent interactions and collaborations among communities.
During the launch ceremony, President Museveni thanked his Kenyan counterpart for reforms that have enhanced cross-border trade and people-to-people interactions between the two nations.
An example of such reforms are at the Port of Mombasa, which Museveni said have gone a long way in improving the efficiency of processing and evacuation of Ugandan exports and imports respectively.

He asked the UN to help in lobbying donor institutions and development partners to support more regional and cross-border roads.
“One of the advocacy points I want you [UN] to help us with are these cross-border roads. We have already succeeded with His Excellency Uhuru with the road from Mbale through Kapchorwa, Suam to Kitale in Kenya. That one is being worked on.
“In the same way, we want to work on the road from Moroto through to Kenya,” he added during the event attended by senior Ugandan and Kenyan leaders.
On his part, President Kenyatta said the agreement will boost development in the region.
He said with the peace and development programme, the area will be transformed into one of progress, development and wealth.
“Peace is the foundation of all that is good. Where there is no peace, no development, there is no wealth that can be made,” said the Kenyan leader.
“I want to thank President Museveni for the work he has done here to ensure that this region, which was a conflict zone, is now a region of peace.”
Kenyatta also made a case for free trade, urging free movement of people, goods and services across African borders.
“If you don’t trade, you cannot create wealth. If you do not move, you cannot create wealth. And if you don’t create wealth, all you are doing is institutionalizing poverty. And we want to eliminate poverty from our people,” he said.
“Therefore, our coming here today is to demonstrate, first our unity as Kenyans with our Ugandan counterparts and our counterparts in the East African Community.”

The leaders of the neighbouring communities joined the two presidents in Moroto. (PPU)

The peace and development intervention will be led by a ministerial committee co-chaired by Uganda and Kenya.
“If you don’t trade, you cannot create wealth. If you do not move, you cannot create wealth. And if you don’t create wealth, all you are doing is institutionalizing poverty. And we want to eliminate poverty from our people,” President Kenyatta said.
“Therefore, our coming here today is to demonstrate, first our unity as Kenyans with our Ugandan counterparts and our counterparts in the East African Community,” he continued.
On the same day, Museveni and Kenyatta commissioned the 2.3 million cubic-litre Kobebe dam.
The community water point was constructed by the Ugandan government at a cost of sh9.1b. The dam is near the Uganda-Kenya border.

President Museveni on Kobebe dam:
The myth that Karamoja is dry is only perpetuated by those that do not know the opportunities available. Yes, Karamoja gets rain for fewer months than in the South of Uganda.
However, in those few months, they get good rain. The challenge is to trap that water in dams, like we have done with this Kobebe Dam which is able to store 2.3 billion litres of water during the rainy season.
Kabebe Dam can cater for 267,000 cattle, when at 70% capacity, for 4 months during the drought. I will say more next week.
It actually rained. I had to put on my jacket although it was 13:40 hours (forty minutes past one O’clock – Omwihaangwe).

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