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Gov’t bans movement of livestock in Amuru district

Amuru, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The government has banned the movement of livestock in Amuru district.

The Minister of State for Animal Industry, Lt. Col. Bright Rwamirama says that the directive follows complaints of illegal entry of livestock and invasion of the non-native herdsmen commonly known as balalo in the area.

The minister issued the directive on Thursday at Attiak sub county during a meeting with the balalo herdsmen, residents, leaders, and security officials held at Okidi primary school.

The team included top army and police officers from the Acholi sub region, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem, and was headed by Gen. David Muhoozi, the State Minister for Internal Affairs.

Rwamirama ordered that no livestock will be allowed into the district until January 25 next year, when a comprehensive audit of the balalo herdsmen is completed by a select committee comprising the district security committee, local leaders, and the cultural institution.

The minister added that the uncontrolled livestock movement from other districts has greatly cost the government a lot of money to control the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). He added that anyone who defies the order will have their livestock impounded and auctioned by the government.

Gen. Muhoozi who led the team said that the problem with the balalo herdsmen has been recurrent since the year 2016, something that has prompted the government to intervene.

He also ordered that all the balalo herdsmen in the area will be thoroughly audited within two weeks. The audit will include taking their particulars, numbers of animals and how they came to exist in the district, and how they acquired lands, and the nature of ownership in the area.

The State Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem added that the existence and uncontrolled entries of the balalo herdsmen in the area has not only caused the destruction of people’s farmlands but also caused insecurity.

He also ordered that all the balalo herdsmen whose animals are roaming in the area without gazetted land must be issued with movement permits so that they vacate the area with immediate effect.

Samuel Akera, the Attiak sub county chairperson estimates that there are over 15,000 heads of cattle in Okidi sub cocunty which is the most populated area by the herdsmen.

Akera welcomed the directive noting that as a sub county, they had failed to document the balalo herdsmen adding that their presence has also led to the destruction of forest and encroachment on natural resources as well as causing land conflicts in the area.

Justo Okot, the Prime Minister Acholi Cultural Chiefdom also welcomed the directive noting that it will relieve the area of degradation and also recover lost cultural sites in the area.

Stephen Bajingo, one of the herdsmen in Okidi sub county and head of the balalo herdsmen who are grazing in the Acholi sub-region welcomed the verification exercise and said that they will abide by all the directives.

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