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Kapelebyong’s residents in panic as Balaalo invade district

Balaalo herdsmen resettled in Teso district Kapelebyong with hundreds of cattle illegally. (FILE PHOTO)

KAPELEBYONG– In just less than a year ago after President Museveni ordered the abolition of Nomadic pastoralism in Uganda, the local leaders of the newly formed Teso district of Kapelebyong have expressed great fear as an unspecified number of Balaalo herdsmen in a fresh illegally invasion settled with hundreds of cattle in the district.

In a phone interview with PML Daily on Thursday,  leaders revealed that locals are scared by the presence of the nomadic pastoralists who invaded the areas with several cattle under the unknown circumstance.

According to the district LC5 chairman Mr Simon Erwagu about 500 heads of cattle belonging to an unspecified number of Balaalo herdsmen have occupied the parish of Akum in Acowa sub-county illegally.

Mr Erwagu said people are afraid that the illegal entrance of Balaalo herdsmen is a disguise to grab their land and is a threat to security in the district.

“Maybe they want to survey our land and put titles illegally and want to take advantage of my poor people,” the chairman said.

He said the herdsmen who are moving with their wives and children have entered without the notice of the local leaders in the areas and are hesitant to leave on the request of the authorities.

Furthermore, Acowa sub-county LCIII chairman Mr Joseph Okwi  Oria said they are receiving complaints on a daily from communities about Balaalo’s cattle destroying food crops in the garden, something he said may heighten food insecurity coupled with the impact of water logging in the area.

“We don’t want to enter in a situation where our land will email grabbed living us without pastures for our own animals.” Mr Okwi reiterated

According to Okwi, 200 hectares of land in Kapelebyong has recently been grabbed by grandchildren of Baruli people who their forefather was given temporal settlement by the Teso community.

It is from this background that Kapelebyong district council resolved to give a 48 hours ultimatum from October 17 to 18 for the herdsmen to leave the area peacefully or else the horse community will determine what to do for them.

If nothing is done to drive out the nomads in the newly formed district of Kapelebyong,  local leaders anticipate serious outbreak of crisis due to too much pressure on the available resources in terms of land, water, and pastures for animals belonging to the locals.

Another problem would also be food crisis since the herdsmen are carelessly raring animals on people’s gardens.

Last year, President Museveni, through Minister of Agriculture Fisheries and Animal Husbandries, Vincent Ssempijja ordered them to quit northern Uganda particularly Acholi subregion and Adjumani district and ensured the nomadic practice abolished or transformed to modthe ern method of animal production in Uganda.

The order also came after communities voiced the concerned over crop destruction by animals and conflict over land with the host communities.

In April this year, the directive was effected and thousands of cattle belonging to Balaalo who were widespread in stated areas left the northern region eviction operation manned by Uganda People’s Defense Force armies.

Balaalo cattle keepers are nomadic pastoralists with unclear origin but mostly referred to hail from Rwanda.

 

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