Resettlement and integration of pastoralists in the national economy: the case of ranches restructuring in South-Western Uganda.
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Introduction: The challenges of settling and integrating pastoralists in national economies, is more urgent in Africa today, as the world observes an accelerated impoverishment of pastoral peoples in the dry lands and a net decline in the productivity of these areas (Monger 1981, UNEP 1984). Over the past decade, growing attention among governments, donors and researchers has been drawn to the problems of resource scarcity and increasing competition on Africa’s rangelands. Droughts and related famines of the 1980s, regional conflicts, local social tensions based on land use conflicts, perceived environmental degradation and related southward expansion of the Sahara, low level production and in some areas acute lack of any kind of food security, general declining socio–economic welfare of livestock keepers and the apparent failure of development programmes funded in the previous two decades, have all undoubtedly forced the problems of African pastoralists onto the agenda of major international actors (Kituyi and Kipuri, 1991). The above pastoralist crises should be viewed as a resultant effect of complex interactive processes between new land tenure changes and old resource management practices of pastoralists in semi-arid and arid lands. These crises reveal the historical trajectory nature of the land question on the one hand, and how government interventions on the other hand, have disrupted the traditional management styles of pastoral resources without providing the pastoralists with appropriate skill and necessary infrastructure to survive and adapt strategies for balancing the utilization of their ever shrinking material base with its regeneration or sustainability. The limitation of traditional solutions which the African pastoralists continue to apply in a changing material environment and failure to adapt new production practices are responsible for the ever worsening pastoralists crises. Parallel to this increased concern with the range resources, has been a steady rise in the numbers of persons which the range has to sustain. In the case of South-Western Uganda, this inter alia, has represented a net increase in the migration of displaced cultivators from highly populated districts of Kabale, Bushenyi, Rukungiri, Mbarara, Masaka, Rakai and Kabarole into the semi arid zones of Nyabushozi, Kabula, Rwemiyaga, Mawogola, Singo and Buruli counties. In addition, there is an internal natural population increase of pastoralists with limited avenues of sloughing off (cf. Bourgeot, 1981, Campbell 1981, Gilles and Gefu 1990, Haaland 1990, Hjort 1989, Lane 1990). This internal increase of pastoralist populations and the influx of displaced cultivators, have triggered within the rangelands of Southwest Uganda, a process in which the pastoralists are being pushed into more marginal parts of the rangelands as the migrants from crop areas and local elites intensify land grabbing and fencing off huge chunks of the best portions of the rangelands for commercial ranching and dry-land cultivation. The expansion of wildlife protected areas like Lake Mburo National Park and Katonga Game Reserve have also caused further displacement of pastoralists as the former communal grazing resources get fenced off. Inevitably, this shift from communal grazing to individualization of land for commercial ranches and other competing economic activities, has only increased pressure on the remaining communally accessible grazing areas thus culminating into environmental, economic and social problems outlined above. David Pulcol 3 Since much of Africa’s rangelands occupied by pastoralists are capable of accommodating diverse economic activities such as; grain production, game reserves for wildlife and other uses considered to provide more monetary returns, they have in recent times become contested territories. Pressed with the need to accommodate these competing economic activities, in attempts to satisfy new national demands, governments in Africa have gazetted some of the rangelands as game reserves, forest reserves and have others, leased to individual crop farmers. The rest has been demarcated into big chunks of land and have been allocated to “progressive farmers” as commercial ranches. In this contest for access and utilization of range resources, the nomadic pastoralists have in most cases, been left out. Mainly because, government planners and donor agencies, consider pastoralism as backward and incapable of yielding animal products of a quality and quantity adequate to meet the ever rising domestic food demands as well as exports to international markets. It is such low yields derived from traditional production systems of nomadic pastoralism that the Uganda government in 1950 and early l960s identified as constituting a serious problem requiring intervention in the face of new national demands.