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Balalo accused of violating livestock quarantine

Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The local leaders of Palaro Sub –County in Gulu District have faulted nomadic Balalo herdsmen for violating quarantine put in place to curb the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease –FMD.

Dozens of districts across the country like Gomba, Isingiro, Kazo, Kiruhura, Wakiso, Kiboba, Nwoya, and Gulu among others have been under livestock quarantine since February this year following the outbreak of the FMD.

In Gulu, the livestock quarantine was imposed on September 3rd after cases of the disease were reported in Palaro, Awach, and Paicho Sub –Counties. The quarantine has since not been lifted as the country faces a shortage of FMD vaccines.

The local leaders of Palaro Sub –County are however blaming the ‘Balalo’ (herdsmen) for violating the quarantine saying they are sneaking with hundreds of their livestock from other districts into the Palaro and from Palaro to other districts, something they say is undermining the government’s effort to fight the disease.

Nelson Mandela Odong, the Chairperson of Oroko Village, Mede Parish, Palaro Sub –County in Gulu District told URN in an interview that the herdsmen have been sneaking in with their livestock at night from Lamwo District through the shallow ends of Aswa River into Palaro Sub –County through Ogwal –Agoro Parish.

According to Odong, some of them are crossing from Palaro Sub –County to Atiak Sub –County in Amuru district in disguise of complying with the President’s directive to have them out of Acholi land.

Odong also revealed that the violation of the livestock quarantine is rampant in their areas because some landowners are stealthily receiving money from those herdsmen to host them in their lands.

Benson Mutundawano, a resident of Mede Parish in Palaro Sub –County in Gulu District says the Balaro herdsmen are also leaving their cattle to roam freely in search of pasture and water, something he says is not only exposing other people’s animals to the risk of infection but also spoiling farmers’ crops in the gardens.

Simon Onguti, the Chairman of Ongwdu Village, Palaro Sub –County in Gulu District says in his area, people are complying with the livestock quarantine and they have not registered any case of the FMD in a while now.

Onguti says they met with the district leaders recently and asked them for the possibility of lifting the quarantine since they are no longer registering new cases of the disease and that the district leaders promised to consult the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries –MAAIF about it.

Francis Joel Wokorach, the Chairman of Palaro Sub –County says the herdsmen who are  violating the livestock quarantine could be dodging the checkpoint at the Sub –County headquarters since they have not caught any.

In September this year, police in Gulu arrested six herdsmen accused of violating the livestock quarantine after they were found transporting animals into the district. The suspects were charged with illegal transportation of animals within quarantine areas vide SD 48/27/09/2021.

Foot and Mouth Disease –FMD is a viral disease of cloven –hoofed livestock and wildlife including cattle, goats, swine, sheep, and buffalos. It has occurred several times in Uganda since 1953 when it was first confirmed.

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