Karenga District has celebrated the International Women’s Day with the call from the Vice President Jessica Alupo to propel messages of co-existance amongst the People of Karamoja and with all their neibours. ‘The people of Karamoja are not different from the people of Teso. I am happy to be here as a sister, niece, friend”, said Alupo,who has fond memories of her student days as a young girl in Kangole Girls Secondary school.
“History tells us that our our origin is the same; from Absynia-present day Ethiopia where we came trekking from Eritrea accross South Sudan, crossed to Kenya where we left our people- the Turkana and came to Karamoja and Teso.
We are the same people”, remarked the Vice President, drawing cheers from the crowd.
The celebrations drew crowds from across Karamoja region which is known as a dry, semi desert area, and is traditionally endowed with rich minerals and blessed with the potential to become a regional food basket, as it turns a new chapter from reports of cattle rustling to commercial Agriculture.
Government has over the years, committed resources to spur the region to realise its full potential.
The Vice President urged the citizens to abandon the archaic gun culture saying there are laws which govern the use of guns; a preserve of authorised persons of security agencies and Wildlife authority. “We have a lot to learn as the Ateker people. If there are those people who still carry guns when they are not authorised, I ask that they drop that culture and embrace peace”, she emphasised.
Recalling her school days in Kangole, Alupo expressed gratitude for being nurtured and raised in Karamoja. “I felt nostalgic about the school. Thank you for welcoming me home” said Alupo who called her school Old girls to join her as she addressed the crowd. “I hope these young girls can look at us as role models and mentors and feel inspired. One of the reasons we celebrate women’s day is to take stock of the achievements on how women empowerment has been enhanced, but also to mentor the young girls”.
She appealed to parents to educate all children and let all girls complete the school cycle because it is from learning that they can be empowered financially and economically. “When we are empowered with holistic education we can manage to practice nationalism that makes you love and appreciate the challenges of the country”.
She implored the political and technical leaders to ensure that all social services of health, education are brought to Karamoja through regular monitoring.
On health, the Vice President said that when women are healthy, the communities and families are healthy and wealthy. That’s why the policy on health is being implemented in a phased way accross the country.
On water for production, Alupo said Government is implementing the water for all through provision of boreholes and, through the implementation of irrigation schemes to cater for both the dry and rainy seasons.
On peace in Karamoja, Alupo said Government is committed to a peaceful country because when there is peace, there is increased production. She asked the young generation to abandon the bad culture of cattle raids. “We can get a multi pronged sustainable solution to this”, she said.
On the issue of roads, Alupo said the Moroto-Kotido road and the road between kitgum and Karenga alongside other roads would be tarmarked. “We call for everybody’s cooperation and pray that contractors are not interrupted.
She said Government would soon extend electricity to all areas of Karamoja, with the same being implemented all over Uganda.
She appealed to the people to embrace the Parish Development Model. “Government has taken the an extra effort to make sure we fight poverty. Money is in the accounts, we request and require you to ensure that the beneficiaries can do productive work, especially from any of the highly valuable enterprises of piggery, (for non muslims) fruit farming, fish farming, poultry, coffee, dairy , especially that Government is highly focused on value addition for high production.
She hailed the people of Karenga for supporting and voting the NRM and President Museveni.
The Minister of Ethics and Integrity Rose Lilly Akello thanked the Vice President for visiting Karenga district and asked government to improve the relationship between the people of Karenga and Uganda Wildlife Authority.
She explained that migrating elephants and Buffalos have continued to destroy hundreds of crop gardens leaving locals with no hope of harvesting food.
The elephants usually move from Kidepo National Game Park in Karenga district southwards through Loleia and Sidok Sub Counties towards North of Kotido and Abim district where they connect to Pian Upe game reserve in Nakapiripirit to Mt. Elgon in search of water.
Akello who is also the woman member of Parliament for Karenga district asked government to improve on the road network to make the district more accessible in an effort to promote economic development and tourism.
The celebrations were attended by several MPs, RDC, the army, police and the district leadership.