According to local leaders, the government did not conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to determine whether the distribution of goats and iron sheets would lift the Karamoja Sub-region out of poverty.
During engagements with local leaders, particularly in Kotido District, the most impoverished and hunger-stricken district last week, it was revealed that neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor central government ministries conducted consultations to determine whether goats and iron sheets were a priority for the Karimojong.
“The goats and iron sheets projects were not driven by demand.” “These top-down approaches are failing here because what is delivered is imposed on the people without seeking to understand what works for them,” Longaroe Sub-county chairperson Mr David Moding said.
Mr Moding stated in an interview, “How I wish the people here had been consulted!” They would have done something else that would have been more beneficial to them. The people were forced to participate in the goats and iron sheets project. Leaders were only told to go find the beneficiaries.”
He claims that the money spent on goats and stolen iron sheets would have gone to groups that would have opened large farms.
Ms Nuria Ashraf Teko, the vice chairperson of the Kotido District, advised that the government should have prioritised agricultural modernization by securing tractors for the communities to maximise production within the short planting seasons to address hunger, a perennial issue in the Karimojong.
“Aside from agricultural modernization, they needed to think about addressing insecurity at the porous border to prevent guns from being smuggled into the sub-region.” This would allow for peace and stability, which would lead to prosperity,” she explained.
“For those sub-counties that missed out on the supplies, leaders need to be consulted and the money put into something else so that the people can benefit,” said Kotido Municipality Mayor Peter Abrahams Irar.
According to Mr Irar, both Kotido district and Kotido municipality were to receive a total of 14,014 iron sheets.
Meanwhile, instead of the planned 16 goats, each goat beneficiary in the district has received one.
According to Mr Irar, the government devised the goat and iron sheet projects as part of a package to rehabilitate disarmed cattle-raiding communities.
“In each parish, we identified seven people to benefit, with each receiving 26 iron sheets.” “The President told us that it takes 22 iron sheets to build a house and four to build a toilet structure,” he said.
Lologoka, Nagirigirioi, and Nangelekek parishes in Kotido Sub-county, for example, were supposed to receive a total of 720 goats as well as up to 546 iron sheets to benefit 66 selected people spread across the three sub-counties.
In contrast to Longaroe Sub-county, where 105 goats were distributed to 105 registered beneficiaries from seven parishes, each goat beneficiary in Kotido Sub-county received only one of the 16 goats.
A total of 14,014 iron sheets were to be distributed to beneficiaries across the district’s 19 sub-counties and 77 parishes.
In a separate interview, Mr Ambrose Onoria, the Kotido RDC, stated that “the iron sheets are not a priority for the people of Karamoja.”
“And I don’t think it will change anything because what the people want has changed; now that they (communities) have lost all animals, including oxen for farming, to rustlers, they need tractors (mechanisation),” he explained.
The distribution of iron sheets for the vulnerable in Karamoja recently became controversial after the State House Anti-Corruption Unit arrested family members of Karamoja Affairs Minister Goretti Kitutu for allegedly selling branded roofing materials.
Individuals such as Vice President Jesca Alupo, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, first deputy Prime Minister Rebecca Kadaga, third deputy Prime Minister Rukia Nakadama, and Finance Minister Matia Kasaija are said to have received thousands of dollars.