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9,000 Turkana pastoralists move back to Kenya after rains return

Over 9,000 Kenyan pastoralists have moved back to Kenya following the return of rains that has restored pastureland on the other side of the border.

The 9,000 are part of 70,000 Turkana herdsmen who crossed into Uganda with 127,000 of their livestock in search of pasture and water last year.

Rex Achila the Resident District Commissioner, Kaabong district, said the Turkana pastoralists have moved towards the Uganda-Kenya border.

“They are moving towards their country especially in the green belt areas, but others are still within Uganda,” he said.

Peter Logiro the Resident District Commissioner, Kotido, also confirmed that the Turkana pastoralists who have been grazing within the district have moved to about 50 kilometres away from Kotido and into the Kenya side.

“They always come to Karamoja when it’s drought looking for water and pasture for their animals but after when they see rains and grass, they move back to their country,” he said.

The Turkana are Kenya’s second largest pastoral group and regu;arly cross into Uganda in search of water and pasture. Tens of thousands of the pastoralists moved into the country with their livestock following a persistent drought in northwestern Kenya last year.

They are currently grazing in the areas of Kobebe in Moroto, Loyoro, Kamion and Kalapata in Kaabong District.

Peter Emanikor, one of the Turkana pastoralists, confirmed that he and several other pastoralists were returning to their country following the current rains.

“We have seen some grass and water back home due to the rains.”

He hailed the leadership of Karamoja for the good reception afforded to the Turkana pastoralists whenever they crossed to Uganda in search of water and pasture.

“Uganda has been the only neighbouring country where we always run whenever the drought hits our Turkana region and we are happy with the government of Uganda,” he said.

John Byabagambi, the minister for Karamoja Affairs, said Uganda will not turn away any foreign pastoralists in need, as long as they don’t bring in guns.

“Uganda will receive any person who is stranded, but we shall not entertain those who are armed,” he said. 

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