URN. Pastoralists (Balaalo) who have been operating in Northern Uganda have an additional week to fully meet conditions set by President Museveni before facing eviction from Acholi Sub-region.
President Museveni issued a two-month eviction ultimatum in November the last year and set out key conditions for the pastoralists to meet or face eviction. The conditions required that all pastoralists fence off their grazing lands, provide private water sources, and avail to local leaders their genuine personal details, land size and location, and land sales agreements.
In line with the directives, the State Minister for Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi was expected to meet with security personnel from Acholi Sub-region today, to come out with final resolutions on the eviction of defiant pastoralists. But the meeting which was to be held at the Fourth Infantry Division Headquarters in Gulu was called off.
The fourth Infantry Division Commander Brig. Bonny Bamwiseki told Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Monday that the meeting has now been postponed until January 13. Brig. Bamwiseki didn’t offer reasons for the postponement of the meeting, yet it came on the day of the expiry of the eviction notice.
Amuru Resident District Commissioner Geoffrey Osborn Oceng says the move is aimed at giving more time for the government to assess the eviction plans, look for logistical support, and have enough security personnel to aid the eviction exercise in Acholi, West Nile, and Teso Sub-regions.
Oceng says with the extension of the deadline, they will conduct more inspection of the pastoralists especially those settled in the greater Atiak Sub-county.
Atiak Sub-county alone hosts about 96 cattle keepers occupying more than 51,000 acres of land in Kaladima village in Bibia Parish, Palulu village in Okidi South Parish, and Okidi North Parish, Lulai village in Palukere parish, and Gunya village in Pacilo Parish.
Kenneth Okot, Atiak Town Council Chairperson who doubles as the Head of the greater Atiak verification committee told URN that by Monday morning they had completed inspecting 63 sites where cattle are being kept by the pastoralists.
Okot however says only one out of the 63 sites belonging to the pastoralists had fulfilled the president’s directive of fencing more than 8,000 acres of his land, dug two water dams for the cattle, and settled all land disputes with his neighbours. He says the others had partially begun erecting barbed wire fences in visible areas and still continue to share water sources with the community.
In Palaro Subcounty in Gulu District, local leaders estimate that more than 200 livestock keepers mostly from Western Uganda have settled in the area and grazing their cattle.
The sub-county Chairperson, Francis Joel Wokorach however says only eight out of the hundreds of pastoralists spread in the sub-county have voluntarily handed their particulars but notes that they haven’t met the president’s directives. According to Wokorach, the pastoralists are settled in the Parishes of Ongedo, Labworomor, and Awich.
He says the majority of cattle keepers in the area haven’t fenced their land and don’t have private water dams adding that they are still sharing water points with the community members which is breeding conflicts. According to Wokorach, the Sub-county officials are only waiting for a final resolution from the select committee established by the president before they start conducting eviction of defiant cattle keepers.
In 2018, thousands of pastoralists were forcefully driven out of Northern Uganda by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces soldiers on orders of President Museveni after flouting directives to fence off their grazing lands.