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Reformed cattle warriors focus on charcoal burning for survival

By: Melanie Aanyu

Aanyu Melanie | 95timefm

Efforts by the government and other development partners to protect the remaining trees in Karamoja may be futile as hundreds of reformed Karimojong rustlers have shifted their focus to charcoal burning for survival.

Our reporter conducted a mini-survey in the six districts of Karamoja last week and found the reformed rustlers engaging in massive tree-cutting after failing to get government support to improve their livelihoods.

The most affected are Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Nabilatuk, and Napak districts, which enjoy relative peace. Some of the reformed rustlers said charcoal burning  is the only option for them to put food on the table.

Mark Akorio, a reformed warrior and resident of Lomerimo village in Ngoleriet sub-county in Napak district, says that the government promised them a lot of projects while pursuing them to surrender their firearms but nothing has come through.

Moru Logwe, another reformed rustler said even the goats that some people received from the office of the prime minister have all been stolen while others succumbed to diseases.

James Okware, the senior warden in charge of the Pian Upe game reserve in Nakapiripirit district, said people are already trying to encroach on the reserve and burn charcoal in the protected areas but they are being blocked by game rangers.

Paul Lokol, the Nabilatuk District chairperson, says the protection of the environment in Karamoja can only be achieved when the government lowers the prices of gas and electricity.