African business, politics and lifestyle
The struggle against drought in northern Uganda
But even this age-old belief hasn’t been able to protect the Karamajong from a drought that has now gone on for 4 years. They still sacrifice because they have nowhere else to turn.
“I don’t know why the rains have disappeared. We believe it is God who has stopped the rain. God is punishing us for our sins, so we must unite and pray that God will listen to us,” clan elder Laurien Lokwareng told Reuters Africa Journal.
Environmentalists blame the situation here on climate change. Forest cover is decreasing around the world and populations are growing. High carbon emissions from industries and big cities are contributing to global warming.
Today, unusual weather has become commonplace — storms, longer drier spells and fluctuating temperatures.
Africa only contributes 4 percent of global carbon emissions; the United States and China together contribute almost 40 percent. But regardless of emissions, the effects are felt most by poor communities because their resources were already stretched before the weather started changing.
The U.N. World Food Program provides food aid to at least 970,000 of Karamoja’s 1.1 million people.
Karamoja is mostly populated by pastoralist communities who keep livestock and migrate in search of pasture. Because of the drought, their animals have to move further and further to find food, and many are dying of hunger. The migrating herds also catch and spread new diseases as they move into different areas.
In places like Karamoja — already plagued by violence due to armed cattle raids between ethnic groups — less water is likely to make insecurity worse. Over the years, residents here have been forced to diversify into farming. But the crops are failing and there is widespread hunger. A recent report by British charity OXFAM predicted hunger is likely to deliver “climate change’s most savage impact on humanity in the near future”.
Experts warn Uganda will lose its entire forest cover in the next 50 years if the
government does not stop the rapid deforestation. The Karamajong are now being encouraged to plant trees and receive seedlings from charities.
But the problems affecting the Karamoja are too big for them to solve on their own.
Without the commitment of the world’s biggest economies and industries to take drastic measures to reverse the effects of climate change, traditional communities like these may cease to exist, and future generations will inherit a world that was destroyed by those who came before them.