East Africa's population is increasingly on the sharp end of climate change impacts. Photo: Jocelyn T Edwards
Climate change fuels violence as hunger drives cattle poaching in East Africa
Jocelyn T Edwards
17th June, 2011
The cattle keepers of Karamoja have raided each others' herds for generations: for prestige, to pay dowries and increase wealth. But the thefts are increasingly driven by hunger caused by a changing climate. Jocelyn T Edwards reports from Uganda
Travelling north in Uganda, the land flattens out and becomes drier, turning from tropical to semi-arid. Paved roads change to dirt and after a few hours you reach the most remote region of the country. Home to a semi-nomadic cattle keeping people, the Karimojong, Karamoja is scarred by dry river beds and dotted with manyattas, small settlements made of sticks and ringed by fences of thorns.
About ten kilometres outside of Moroto, the largest town in the Karamoja, in one of these manyattas, lives Lowakabong Tapem. Crawling through a small opening in the fence, you'll find him and his eight wives and 40 children. Tapem used to be a rich man. He carries a walking stick and wears a navy blue suit jacket over cargo shorts. Around his wrist is an ivory bracelet that he bought for ten cows. But then last year, warriors from a neighbouring clan came and stole all his animals in a series of raids. He lost 70 cows, 30 camels and 40 goats.
'I don’t have anything to give my wives; they are the ones who take care of me now, by going and looking for herbs,' Tapem says. The elder blames the drought that has plagued the region of Karamoja in recent years for the theft of his livestock. 'The...
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