The Karamoja region in north-eastern Uganda is an inhospitable place. Drought dominates the area, and the frequency of dry periods has risen in recent decades, probably due to climate change. The lack of rain presents a growing danger for the inhabitants of Karamoja. The Karimojong people have been living in the region as cattle herders for hundreds of years. Cows are both their capital and their most important resource, because milk is a staple food here. However, the herds also cause ecological damage. Overgrazing accelerates the advancing desertification, and much of the country is degenerating into desert. The shepherds are increasingly destroying their own livelihood.
The problems are being exacerbated by the ever-growing population density. Thousands of people in Karamoja are suffering from undernourishment or malnutrition in the meantime. As so often, the children are the most seriously affected. Although international organizations have provided the people with stopgap relief supplies several times, this cannot be a permanent solution. Attempts have been made to gear the Karimojong’s food production more towards agriculture in order to improve their future prospects.
A project launched in 2009 by Welthungerhilfe (World Hunger Aid) and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) aims to sustainably improve the Karimojong people’s living conditions. The project is supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) under the Global Programme for Food Security. The helpers are pursuing a two-pronged approach: the first is to increase regional agricultural production by improving farming methods, using drought-resistant seed varieties and more efficient irrigation, and improving the infrastructure and thus marketing possibilities; the second is to encourage the clans to use new, peaceful ways to resolve conflicts. Initial positive results are already becoming visible.