Lamwo Migratory Farming Communities Risk Missing Census

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In short
Charles Obong Okwera, the Madi Opei sub county chairperson says many of the areas are inaccessible due to the poor road network, phone signal and radio coverage.

Leaders in Lamwo have embarked on efforts to ensure migratory farming communities that leave in temporally shelter locally known as Aker in remote areas of the district participate in the national population and housing census that is due on Thursday. The affected communities migrated to remote areas bordering South Sudan for the second planting season that will last to around 5th September.

They are involved in planting Sesame, Bull Rush, Sorghum and Cassava and ground nuts and herding livestock. Communities from 8 villages in Madi Opei Sub County are among those at risk of missing the exercise. Charles Obong Okwera, the Madi Opei sub county chairperson says many of the areas are inaccessible due to the poor road network, phone signal and radio coverage. Obong says the farmers spend several months with children and livestock in the settlements without returning back homes.
 
He says the farmers are from Locimi Dik, Orogo, Dog Tangi and Luturu villages in Lawiye Oduny Parish. The others are Tecwa, Kiwiri, Odya Oket and Lakiwula in Okol Parish in Madi Opei Sub County among others.

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Obong who is the Secretary General of an association of sub county leaders in Lamwo district says a similar farming pattern is practiced in other parts of the district. He says return from the settlement was too slow during the recent mass vaccination of animals against the foot and mouth disease and the contagious Bovine Pluero Pneumonia diseases.

The leaders have employed some unique strategies to mobilize the settlers to return back homes in time for census. They include pinning notices on tree trunks in the jungles and sending letters to leaders of the settlements to reinforce the messages.

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Obong says they have instructed local council leaders who will tag along the enumeration officials to send tailor made messages urging those in settlements to return and be counted. 54-year-old Thomas Openy says the exercise face the taboo that people are not counted among the Acholi communities.
 
He says the Acholi people believe that once counted they will die. Captain Okot Santos Lapolo, the Kitgum resident district commissioner says another hindrance to data quality might be concealment of information related to land over perceived land grabbing by government.

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.