BBC: Uganda’s Troubled Karamoja Region

Young girls outside a manyatta, a traditional home, in Karamoja


Karamoja, in the far east of Uganda, is the country’s least developed area and lacks many basic services. The United Nations Humanitarian Office estimates that at its current rates of progress, it will not achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.






The Karamojong are pastoralists who greatly value their cows, using them to pay dowry when they marry. Cattle rustling has long been a tradition in the region, but where this was once carried out with spears, warriors now use guns. The area is notoriously insecure and both cattle raiding and arms trading stretches across Uganda’s borders with Kenya and Sudan.

Herding Cows









A soldier checks a confiscated rifle



The Ugandan army has been carrying out a disarmament exercise since 2001, to try to rid the area of small arms. They’ve so far collected more than 25,000 guns but many remain the in the hands of warriors. And the army has been criticised for its heavy handed tactics used in the disarmament exercise.



Goats being sold at market






The area is also suffering from its worst drought in 5 years. Livestock prices have dropped as the animals struggle to find enough to eat. The price of a goat has dropped from around US$21 to US$12. Animal diseases are also a problem. Karamoja is currently experiencing its first outbreak of PPR or goat plague which has killed over 200,000 animals in the last 2 years. Aid agencies are trying to help vaccinate livestock to contain such diseases.



Fetching food from the granary

Karamoja is currently experiencing food shortages and food prices are rising. According to the United Nations World Food Programme, the price of sorghum in Karamoja has risen by over 50% since December 2007.






Adults taking a literacy class


Karamoja has the lowest school enrolment rates in Uganda. Many parents keep their children at home to help look after cattle and other livestock.