The Scramble for Cattle, Power and Guns in Karamoja

This new report on the Karamoja Cluster of Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia is the result of several years of field work by a respected Teso elder from the region with assistance from a Turkana woman. Dr. Akabwai, the lead author, has over thirty years of experience in the Karamoja Cluster, where he started working as a large animal veterinarian in the early 1970s. Based on his extensive contacts within local communities, Dr. Akabwai was able to gain access to privileged information on the weapons trade and cattle raiding that underpin the widespread insecurity across the larger region. Ms. Ateyo’s participation in the research facilitated access to women of all ages. The result is a unique and thorough examination and analysis that includes gendered and generational perspectives.

The report focuses on the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda as an area of high demand for weapons, lack of law and order, and violent and increasingly brutal cattle raids predominantly carried out by armed male youth. The authors argue that the response by the Ugandan government to the insecurity—which to date has largely been through forced disarmament—has failed to address the underlying causes of the insecurity, including the high demand for weapons and lack of law and order. Coupled with the failure of the state to provide adequate protection, the result is a cycle of violence and increased insecurity with pronounced negative social, economic and political consequences for the people of the region and adjacent areas.