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Nakasongola leaders fear FMD outbreak as animals crowd water sources

Nakasongola, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Local leaders in Nakasongola district are in fear that the movement of animals in search of water could trigger a fresh outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease.

Since November 2021, Nakasongola district has been facing drought forcing pastoralists to trek long distances in search of water and pasture.

The pastoralists currently access water at River Kafu and a few private valley dams forcing hundreds of heads of cattle to crowd the sources daily.

Sam Eswaggu, the Nakasongola District Veterinary Officer says that although the district has not registered any Foot and Mouth disease cases, the movement and crowding of different animals at water sources may trigger outbreaks.

“We pray that the drought conditions don’t take long because they encourage animals to converge at one source and if one is infected, it may spread to others. Currently, we have no control over movements because animals need water for survival”.

Samuel Butagasa, the district councilor for Nakitoma sub-county says that apart from fears of disease outbreaks, some pastoralists are now paying between 30,000-50,000 Shillings per animal to access water at private valley dams.

Fredson Kakooza Wilson, the LC3 chairperson of Nabiswera sub-county has asked the ministries of Water and Agriculture to extend piped water near trading centers where pastoralists can access it for animals and production.

“Water is available at lakes and rivers within in the district. We only need support to extend it near the communities. Even if we dig many valley dams, these are bound to dry up in the dry season” Kakooza said.

Sam Kigula, the LCV Chairman of Nakasongola district says that they have directed the veterinary officers to be on high alert and make routine inspections so as to detect the outbreaks in time to avoid  spread.

Nakasongola district has faced a repeated ban on the movement of animals and their products due to Foot and Mouth disease leaving pastoralists crying foul in past years. The district has also suffered several revenue losses whenever it is imposed.

The district last detected cases of foot and mouth disease in Kakooge town council in June 2021. The outbreak of the disease affected livelihoods and service delivery.

According to Nakasongola district veterinary office, there at least 266,791 heads of cattle and 42,686 are estimated to be sold annually.

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