22 June 2021
  • Climate security practice
  • africa

Climate Security Practice Spotlight – Cross Border Cooperation in the Greater Karamoja Cluster

The Greater Karamoja Cluster is a region encompassing areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda. Pastoralism is the main livelihood source in the area, meaning there are twice as many cattle as people in the area and almost 4 times more goats than people. Pastoralism requires livestock mobility to cope with seasonal changes and the subsequent changes in resource distribution (like grass and water) across the region. The drought-prone region lies on the periphery of each country, meaning the region as a whole is underdeveloped and on the fringes of each government's development agenda. Climate change has played a part in worsening droughts and causing food insecurity. In turn, this has caused inter-community conflict over land access and natural resources.

In response to the vulnerability of the area to climate change and conflict, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) undertook measures to increase community coordination over livestock mobility and natural resource sharing. In order to do this, after a thorough analysis of the region they decided to work with local, regional and national bodies to build upon established approaches. These included community managed disaster risk reduction, participatory natural resource management, community animal health workers and livestock and pastoral field schools.

This approach has resulted in many positive impacts for the people of the Greater Karamoja Cluster. Firstly, a multilateral memorandum of understanding was signed between the four countries in 2019, allowing cross-border cooperation on animal health and natural resources. On a regional scale, the governments of Turkana country in Kenya and Moroto and Kotido districts in Uganda were able to develop a joint drought response which included livestock vaccination and health provisions. These interventions promoted peaceful coexistence between the Turkana and Karamojong peoples. The reduction in conflict in the border region allowed more trade to pass through, strengthening livelihoods and further engendering understanding between the communities. The agreements for natural resource sharing have resulted in more grazing opportunities and reduced the vulnerability of the communities to drought. For example, work by FAO and IGAD during a 2017 drought allowed Turkana pastoralists from Kenya to cross the border into Uganda to graze their cattle, without causing any conflict with the Karamojong pastoralists in the area. Overall, cross border cooperation on natural resources and trade has strengthened local institutions, allowing for conflict resolution and a chance at peace. 


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This article was based on this FAO factsheet

Photo Credit: FAO Emergencies/Flickr