Resumption of Executive Order No. 3 Implementation in Northern Uganda Post-Quarantine

Gulu. The implementation of Executive Order Number 3 is set to resume in Northern Uganda once the government lifts the animal quarantine in certain parts of the country, revealed State Minister for Northern Uganda, Dr. Kenneth Omona.

Executive Order No. 3, issued by President Museveni in May last year, aims to address illegal land acquisition by migrant cattle keepers, commonly known as Balaalo, and mitigate environmental injustices in Northern Uganda. The implementation began in November last year but stalled early this year in several districts.

Dr. Omona informed stakeholders at a meeting in Gulu City on Friday that the national quarantine imposed on animal movement by the Ministry of Agriculture, following an outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) in over 20 districts, had disrupted the eviction exercise. The quarantine was enforced in February this year to curb the spread of the highly contagious disease affecting cloven-hoofed animals.

Omona assured local leaders in Northern Uganda that Executive Order No. 3 remains in effect and will resume immediately once the animal movement quarantine is lifted. While he did not provide an exact date, Omona noted that President Museveni is expected to meet with the technical team involved in the Order’s implementation soon.

However, Anthony Akol, the Member of Parliament for Kilak North, criticized the government’s handling of the situation. He pointed out that despite the quarantine, several trucks carrying cattle continue to move out of the region, questioning the government’s commitment to the eviction of the Balaalo.

According to government statistics, by November last year, there were an estimated 8,000 noncompliant migrant cattle keepers illegally occupying land in Northern Uganda. During a stakeholders’ engagement meeting, leaders from Acholi, Bukedi, Lango, West Nile, and Elgon regions highlighted various issues contributing to the region’s poverty, calling for urgent government intervention.

The Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development’s 2021 poverty status report, released in February last year, ranks Northern Uganda among the poorest regions in the country, with Acholi being the most affected, followed by Karamoja.

Emmanuel Orach, the Nwoya District Chairperson, outlined pressing challenges, including the slow progress of the Presidential four-acre model initiative, human-wildlife conflicts near National Parks, and the high cost of land preparation for farmers. He emphasized the need to enhance farmers’ capacity in value addition to reduce revenue loss to middlemen.

Dr. Omona acknowledged the alarming poverty status in Northern Uganda and urged religious and cultural leaders to collaborate with the government to combat this issue. He suggested introducing perennial cash crops in Northern Uganda, similar to initiatives in other regions promoting tea and coffee cultivation.

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, who officiated the stakeholder meeting, reassured leaders that the government is committed to prioritizing affirmative action programs to address poverty in Northern Uganda. She announced the forthcoming reintroduction of the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund Phase Four (NUSAF4), which will focus solely on livelihood support rather than infrastructure development, as seen in NUSAF Phase 3.

NUSAF 4, set to launch in July this year with funding of US$ 250 million in loans and US$ 40 million in grants over five years, aims to provide a lifeline to over 39% of the region’s population living in poverty. The program will support 4,064 parishes, 667,000 households, and 31 million beneficiaries, with an expected 21,000 self-employment enterprises to be created for youth beneficiaries.

Source URN

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