MOROTO, Uganda – President Yoweri Museveni and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta today witnessed the signing of an agreement aimed at promoting sustainable peace and development among Karamojong, Pokot and Turkana communities.
The programme dubbed Cross-Border Sustainable Peace and Development seeks to end hostilities among the three neighboring communities and enhance development in the region by promoting non-violent interactions and collaborations.
The UN supported intervention that will be led by a ministerial committee co-chaired by Kenya and Uganda will be implemented in the region to reduce tensions resulting from access to shared resources such as water and pasture.
Speaking during the launch ceremony in Moroto town, President Museveni observed that when NRM came to power, it identified two major issues that affected the Karamoja sub-region; these were insecurity and water shortage.
“About water, valley dams have been sunk in a greater part of the region to provide water for livestock. The government has also constructed boreholes in most parishes,” President Museveni said.
Adding that, the plan now is to have a borehole per village.
Museveni noted that when government formed the Karamoja Development Authority, it dealt mainly with the issue of insecurity.
“The disarmament programme which was successfully done, led to the peace Karamoja is experiencing now,” he said.
Besides these two key issues, President Museveni said that government had also offered health facilities as well as built schools and that the next step was to set up industrial parks in Karamoja, which is blessed with minerals.
He also promised government support towards reconstruction and expansion of Moroto airstrip as this would help boost tourism in the area.
also promised government support towards the tourism sector here. The Moroto airstrip will be reconstructed and expanded.
On his behalf, President Kenyatta welcomed the agreement saying it will help spur development in the region which has for many years suffered unnecessary communal conflicts.
“This programme, in cooperation with the UN, is a programme that will help all of us to ensure that we have peace, our people live together and also to enable us develop,” the President said.
He said the peace and development programme will assist in transforming the border region from a conflict zone to an area of progress, development and wealth.
The President noted that it is through wealth creation as envisioned in the signed peace and development agreement that the poverty that plague the region can be fought successfully.
“Peace is the foundation of all that is good. Where there’s no peace, no development, there’s no wealth that can be made. 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,” the President said.
He called for free movement of people, goods and services across borders of African countries saying the continent can’t develop without free trade.
“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.
Earlier, the two leaders commissioned the 2.3 million cubic litres Kobebe dam, a community water point that was constructed by the Ugandan government at a cost of 2.5 million US dollars.
The dam which is close to the Kenya-Uganda border serves over 1.5 million animals from the pastoralist Turkana and Karamojong communities.