Livelihoods, innovations & challenges in Karamoja
The report “Five years on: Livelihood advances, innovations, and continuing challenges in Karamoja, Uganda” (2017, 55pp) by Elizabeth Stites et al is the final report on five years of collaboration between Feinstein International Center (Tufts University) and Mercy Corps in the Growth, Health, and Governance Program in northern Karamoja, Uganda. It examines key areas of change in Karamoja over the past five years, such as the people’s access to and use of services (education, human health etc), innovations in community-based water management, interaction with veterinary services.
Marked improvement was found in many facets of life in the area: broader access to services, greater security and more dynamic livestock markets. More young men report being able to marry, food security appears to be improving, and access to community animal health workers and livestock treatment has improved, also through expansion of private veterinary practitioners. The study found an overall improvement in wellbeing of the local people. Animal production continues to be the most viable source of livelihood, given the erratic rainfall patterns.
Despite the positive changes, the region still faces several challenges, including endemic poverty, limited governance capacity and inadequate mechanisms to maintain public infrastructure. More research is still needed on shifts in equity of livestock ownership and how such imbalances correspond with use of services and markets. It is not clear whether a market-based approach brings benefits to the very poor.