Ethnic conflicts: A case study of Basongora and Bakonzo in Kasese District, 1990-2014.
Katunguka, Roland Arthur
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While there is abundant literature on land-related conflicts between pastoralists and sedentary farmers elsewhere in Uganda, the nature and causes of the particular conflict between Basongora pastoralists and Bakonzo cultivators in Kasese district, has not been addressed comprehensively. Loss of their grazing land to sedentary cultivators and to wildlife conservation which denied them access to water, dry season pastures and other pastoral resources marginalized many Basongora cattle-keepers. When such social groups are confined to marginal environments where alternative subsistence economies are considerably restrained and untenable in maintaining their livelihood, the idea of long-term adaptive adjustments such as resettling these former nomads without provision of pastoral resources are likely to jeopardize and spells doom to their livelihoods and may result in conflict. The general and specific objectives of the study were to determine the nature and causes of conflict between the Basongora cattle-keepers and Bakonzo cultivators, to assess their social relations in relation to the conflict and also explore their economic livelihoods in relation to the conflict. The study was carried out in randomly selected Basongora grazing areas and Bakonzo farming homesteads. The study targeted for interview, a population of 10 cultivator households, and 10 pastoralist homesteads. Twenty respondents were selected from a random picking of ten Local Council chairmen, five government officials, and five NGOs representatives including cultural and local leaders adding up to a total of (40 individuals). Sustainable use of land and natural resources between the two groups if well handled, even after re-location and resettlement, will, in the near future, be critical to livelihoods’ sustenance and economic performance as well as providing a basis for social harmony. Resettlement of the Basongora pastoralists as an end to pastoral nomadic mobility may hold enormous attraction to government policy makers if not to pin them to the ground, but by replacing range movement of herds and herders to a more sedentalized form of lifestyle, if it may improve their economic well being. Government should open up new boundaries, demarcate, survey, fence, enclose and issue ownership titles to the new occupants. Their linkages and new forms of interaction with neighboring sedentary, pastoralist communities, the markets and the central government should be encouraged and embraced instead of being shunned, in order to be integrated into society.