Pastoralists Walk 100km to Access Social Services

Pastoralists at Kobebe grazing area in Lotisan Sub-county in Moroto district have decried the lack of social services. According to the Pastoralists, they lack social services such as clean water, schools, health centers, markets, and roads that are needed to sustain their lives.

Kobebe grazing area is currently home to over 10000 pastoralists comprising the Matheniko from Moroto, Jie of Kotido, and Turkanas from Kenya. The pastoral communities have settled with their families around the Kobebe grazing area due to the presence of water for the livestock.

Philip Loumo, one of the pastoralists, said they have to walk through the bush for 100 kilometers to Moroto town to access health services and 40 kilometers to Rupa sub-county to access schools and clean water. Loumo says that because of the distances, they are forced to share dirty water from ponds with animals and struggle to access other services from distant places.

He observed that since they have chosen Kobebe grazing area as their home because of the available water for their livestock, the government should consider bringing social services nearer to ease their livelihood. 

Betty Namer, whom our reporter found grazing cows with her husband, said about 500 women have camped in the bush with their men to graze the animals. Namer said due to the lack of health facilities and the poor road network, pregnant mothers have resorted to going to town early before labor for safety. 

She said some mothers do not have relatives in town so they end up sleeping in the hospital while waiting for delivery. Albert Lokong, the chairperson of the pastoralists, said that although they have been moving from place to place to graze their animals, they now want to set up a permanent village around Kobebe where their families will settle as they go to look for pasture.

Looking appealed to the government to consider constructing for them a health facility because they are currently forced to beg medicines from the security forces when they fall sick. 

Clementina Lochoro, the Lotisan Sub-county female councilor, said that they are concerned about the crisis of service delivery at Kobebe and several reports have been written to the district authorities for intervention. Lochoro said they sank one borehole for the pastoral community but unfortunately the water turned salty and was not good for human consumption. 

She says that they have been skeptical to deliver other services like schools and health care because the pastoralists used to migrate from place to place and such structures would be left idle in the bush. 

David Koryang, the Moroto  LC V chairperson acknowledged the concerns, saying they are willing to support the pastoral community but sometimes their efforts are frustrated by the limited budget the district receives.

Koryang said their first priority would be to fix the road network, which he says is impassable during the rainy season. He also appealed to the government to consider introducing basic education for the pastoral communities in order to transform them.

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