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Agriculture ministry halts eviction of pastoralists in Nwoya over FMD outbreak

Nwoya, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries-MAAIF has temporarily halted the eviction of pastoralists from Nwoya district over a fresh outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

Nwoya is among the four districts in Acholi and Lango sub-regions that was supposed to start evicting pastoralists who were illegally occupying government land following an order issued by Gen. David Muhoozi, the State Minister for Internal Affairs last week.

The first phase of eviction operation code named, “Safisha Kilimo na Mifugo” targets pastoralists in Got Apwoyo sub-county in Nwoya district, Lakang sub-county in Amuru district, Aswa Ranch in Angagura sub-county, Pader district, and Maruzi ranch in Apac district.

But Nwoya District Veterinary Officer Dr James Ukwir, says that 30 per cent of the samples collected from cattle in the district in December last year tested positive for Foot and Mouth Disease. Nwoya district has been under animal quarantine since July last year after an outbreak of FMD in Lungulu, Purongo, Anaka sub-counties and Anaka town that killed more than 20 cattle and infected a thousand others.

Dr Ukwir says that although they had requested for the lifting of the animal quarantine, the fresh news of the disease outbreak is a big blow to them and may see the quarantine duration extended together with the eviction of pastoralists.

Dr Ukiwr says that despite the current outbreak of the disease, the district is unable to vaccinate animals since it ran out of FMD vaccines in August last year. At least 5,000 cattle were vaccinated against FMD in Nwoya district in August last year according to Dr Ukwir. He says with the new cases of the highly contagious disease, it would be a breach of the animal diseases act to implement the eviction of the pastoralists and their animals during quarantine.

Dr Anna Rose Ademun, the Commissioner for Animal Health at the Ministry of Agriculture told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that there will be no eviction of pastoralists in Nwoya until all infected animals are treated against FMD.

She notes that a team of veterinary officials will be on the ground in other districts where the eviction is scheduled to start to conduct verification before animals are transported outside. Dr Ademun says the move will help to curb the spread of the disease in other parts of the country where there are no cases of Foot and Mouth Disease.

Dr Ademun acknowledges that the ministry has currently run out of vaccines for FMD citing supply challenges caused by impacts of the covid-19 pandemic. She however notes that the ministry is expected to receive vaccines in the next two weeks which will be used to vaccinate animals across the country.

Nwoya Resident District Commissioner, also the Head of the district security committee, Agnes Akello Ebong says they are still conducting planning before coming out with a concrete position on evicting the pastoralists. Amuru Resident District Commissioner Osborn Oceng on the other hand says they will commence eviction of pastoralists occupying government land in Lakang sub-county on Thursday.

Foot and Mouth Disease is a contagious viral disease of livestock that affects cattle, swine, sheep, goats, and other cloven-hoofed ruminants. It presents with symptoms of fever and blister-like sores on the tongue and lips, in the mouth, on the tits, and between the hooves of the infected livestock.

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