Tradition in transition in Karamoja, Uganda
A report by researchers with Tufts University looks at the profound shifts undergone by customary authority in the Karamoja region of Uganda with the changes in livelihoods and security conditions in the area over the past decades. Funded by Irish Aid Kampala, the study examines the evolution of customary authority among the Jie, Dodoth, Matheniko and Tepeth. It finds that customary mechanisms have been slow to adapt to change and have decreasing influence over the day-to-day legal, economic, diplomatic and ritual affairs of local communities. Some factors contributing to this include loss of livestock and a shift away from pastoral livelihoods; influence of education, migration and commoditisation; delay in succession of authority from one generation-set to the next; rise in criminal behaviour by young men; erosion of peacemaking by male elders; and the expanded reach of state institutions of governance. However, customary authority mechanisms continue to play a role and are often the preferred avenues for redress for specific complaints and violations. Local people see them as being more transparent and more appropriate in their focus on compensation and reconciliation of communal relations when compared to the official state law-and-order systems. The study examines the perceptions of male elders, youth and women regarding the status of customary institutions within their community, investigates the interaction between official and customary systems and offers recommendations for national and international actors working in the Karamoja region. The executive summary can be found here and the full report can be found here.