Igad leaders commit to strengthen peace in borderlands

Peter Abrahams Loki- Kotido Municipality MP who led Uganda IGAD delegation with Turkana leadership, lead by Governor Lomorukai

Seated from left: Mr Peter Abrahams Loki- Kotido Municipality MP and head of the Uganda delegation, Turkana Deputy Governor John Erus, Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai and Turkana County Commissioner Muthama Wambua after deliberations on how to cement peace along the border of Kenya and Uganda on August 27, 2022.

Photo credit: Sammy Lutta | Nation Media Group

Leaders from four member states of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) have pledged to promote and strengthen peaceful coexistence in borderlands inhabited by pastoral communities by investing in activities that reinforce peace and security.

Representatives of the Turkana community of Kenya, the Karamojong, Jie and Ik of Uganda, Toposa of South Sudan and Ethiopia's Dassenach and Nyangatom at the weekend said that transhumance was unavoidable.

Transhumance is the practice of moving livestock from one grazing ground to another in a seasonal cycle, typically to lowlands during the cold season and to highlands in hot spells across the countries, and hence the need to push for peaceful coexistence.

Desperate search for pasture

Hundreds of pastoralists from Turkana usually migrate to northern Uganda for water and pasture during the dry season, said Peter Abrahams Loki, the Kotido Municipality MP.

"As leaders, we must frequently talk to border residents to ensure their desperate search for pasture and water doesn’t expose them to cattle rustling, as well as invest in peace dividends,” Mr Loki said. 

“States should build roads to facilitate businesses across the borders, construct more water dams and boreholes for livestock, provide basic health services to mobile communities and veterinary drugs for livestock."

Hosted delegation

Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai, who hosted the delegation in Lodwar, said his administration will set aside adequate resources for peacebuilding missions that will incorporate critical actors such as former warriors.

He said that peacebuilding actors should be well funded so as to move around and hold meetings.

"I will not tolerate leaders even within my community whose business is to cause anarchy at the borderlands. Our objective is to have an East Africa Community (EAC) that is united to boost cross-border trade together," Mr Lomorukai said.

Road infrastructure

The leaders said that good roads will link livestock in the region to better markets and assure pastoralists of increased income.

"Joint security patrols, establishment of border livestock markets that are linked with better road and communication networks will also promote export of our livestock," said Lore Kakuta, the head of Ethiopia's Southern Region Pastoralists Affairs Bureau.

The Ethiopian government, he said, had invested in good roads towards the border with Kenya, but the remaining challenge is a stretch between Kibish town and River Nakuwa in Turkana County where the road is in a deplorable condition.

Kenya-South Sudan border

The Nadapal point on the Kenya-South Sudan border is South Sudan’s lifeline because many goods pass through there, said Patrick Oting, Eastern Equatoria state minister for information and communication.

"We are committed to strengthen bilateral ties so that the road connecting Kenya and South Sudan through Lokichoggio in Turkana is completed to facilitate trade,” he said. 

“If the road is completed, each truck will save around $500 (about Sh60,000) by avoiding the long route of Busia to Nimule." 

One-stop border posts

The leaders called on Igad member states to establish one-stop border posts to ensure swift movement of goods, people and vehicles and avoid unnecessary controls imposed by security officers that discourage cross border trade.

They said lasting peace will also be realised by setting up nursery schools along borders where pastoralists can take their children for basic education, promoting peaceful coexistence.

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