Ugandan Herders Cross into DR Congo in Search of Water and Pasture Amidst Dry Weather
At least 10,000 herds of cattle from Ntoroko District have crossed into the Democratic Republic of the Congo in search of water and pasture after prolonged dry weather in the region. The scarcity of water and pasture has been caused by the drying up of most farmlands in the area. District authorities claim that some animals have died, which has forced some herders to move into neighboring DR Congo.
Impact of Dry Winter on Milk Output and Prices
The dry winter has also led to a reduction in milk output, which has resulted in prices rising from Shs 1,500 to Shs 2,500 per litre. Lowland regions bordering DR Congo, including Rwebisengo, Bweramure, Butungama, Kibuuku, and Kanara, are the most affected sub-counties.
Cow Keepers Move to DR Congo
Cow keepers, like Mr. James Asiimwe from Butungama sub-county, have been moving their livestock over the Semuliki River to DR Congo for greener pastures. Asiimwe claimed that he and his colleagues had no choice as several of their cattle had begun to die. In DR Congo, they have found plenty of grass to feed their livestock.
Utilization of Ferry and Accusations of Denial of Access to National Park
Herders utilize a ferry at the Rwebale landing location on the River Semuliki to cross, while others push animals into the river. However, they accuse the Ugandan government of denying them access to Semuliki National Park during the dry season to feed their livestock.
Cattle Perishing and Scarcity of Grazing
Dr. Patrick Bagonza Businge, the Ntoroko District Production Officer, revealed that over 15,000 cattle perished during a dry season last year, and over 7,000 have died so far this year. The region lacks natural water sources, and farmers lack the ability to build valley dams, resulting in a water shortage. Mr William Kasoro, chairman of the Ntoroko District, added that the invasive plant has taken a heavy toll on numerous farms in the region, resulting in a scarcity of grazing.
The Herders’ Dilemma
The herders are crossing into DR Congo at a time when ADF militants are assaulting and murdering civilians in the country’s east. In December, ADF rebels crossed from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and attacked the Ntoroko District. Nevertheless, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces killed 17 of them and captured 13 others (UPDF).
The scarcity of water and pasture is a significant challenge facing the Ntoroko District. The situation has forced herders to cross into DR Congo in search of greener pastures for their livestock. The Ugandan government needs to work with the district authorities to find a solution to the water and pasture shortage in the region.