Article from ROAPE Volume 9 Number 25
Karamoja: Colonial Roots of Famine in North-East Uganda

Karamoja: Colonial Roots of Famine in North=East Uganda
Vol.9 No.25 (Winter 1982), pp66-73
Karamoja in Uganda's north=east corner has always been regarded as a backward and troublesome area. The implication always is that it suffers from an inhospitable environment and its people follow a primitive way of life. The problem is either ‘natural’ and intractable, or due to conservatism. A review of the historical evidence reveals, to the contrary, that before the colonial presence the Karamojong operated a viable system of land utilisation that left the country a ‘grass savannah’ , where today it is burnt out bush. The deterioration of the environment in fact came about during and as a result of colonial rule and the particular forms of exploitation visited on the Karamojong. This included the alienation of grazing land; the conversion of hunting Into ‘poaching’ ; and ‘de-stocking’ of cattle was, to add insult to injury, urged as the solution to the resulting over-grazing.