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Kaabong district officials demand compensation for stolen livestock

Kaabong, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Kaabong district officials want the government to compensate 55,000 heads of cattle lost to rustling between 2019 and 2022. Jino Meri, the LCV chairperson says that many residents have lost their lives and animals to rustlers, which has affected the community economically and socially.

According to Meri, there is a new element of commercialization of rustling, where wrongdoers connive to steal cows. He noted in the past, Karamojong used to raid for prestige, but it is currently driven by the desire for money. “Sometimes the security forces track these animals but in most cases footmarks disappear along the way and they end up being loaded in lorries and transported outside Karamoja,” said Meri. He explains that the raiders sell the animals and immediately start hunting for more.

Capt. Mike Okiria, the Kaabong Resident District Commissioner says that they have already compiled reports about the lost animals pending verification by the state attorney for further action. Okiria said that they are confident that the government will compensate their people because the situation is contributing to the biting poverty in families.

Okiria noted that fighting insecurity is a big challenge because the community is mixed up with collaborators, which makes it difficult for security to identify the perpetrators. He also blamed the increasing insecurity in Kaabong on the porous borders between the district and the nearby armed Turkana community in Kenya that facilitates the easy movement of stolen cattle and entry of illegal guns. He however notes that the cattle raids have slowed down due to interventions of the security forces.

John Lokiru, a pastoralist in Sidok sub-county in Kaabong district says that they have been rendered vulnerable and blamed security forces for failing to curb the cattle raids. Lokiru says that the army has done nothing to protect their animals from the enemies who have been terrorizing them.

He said that a cow is the only source of livelihood and without it, their families cannot stand. Apanakuruk Loruk, another pastoralist in the same sub-county says that he lost over 500 cattle to suspected warriors from Kotido district and none was recovered despite efforts by security to track them. Loruk said his life revolved around cattle, which is a main source of nutrients in the form of milk and fresh blood for food, but now that joy is no more.

He also revealed that having a big herd is often a reliable indicator of a man’s strength and the status of the family but unfortunately he can no longer speak as a man. Loruk urged the government to solve the issue of insecurity and restock the area because they cannot live without a cow given the type of climate they live in that doesn’t support farming.

In March 2022, President Yoweri Museveni launched livestock compensation payments for claimants and beneficiaries from Acholi, Lango, and Teso sub-regions. He also pledged to include Karamoja in the list of regions to be compensated for losses resulting from cattle rustling.