The longstanding border conflict between Teso and Karamoja sub regions continues to widen. The conflict, according to Mr. Enyongu Pius a resident of Kapujan Sub County in Katakwi district started in 1950. According to the 81 year old Enongu, the conflict started when the then County governor Mr. Okurut George decided together with his soldiers to distribute amongst themselves cows that had been stolen by Iteso from the karimojong. According to him, The Karimojong crossed to the Teso side in 1950 to rustle cattle. As a retaliation, the Iteso also followed the trails of the Karimojong rustlers and fought to return their cows and on top of their cows, they raided more cows from the Karimojong. The colonial government at the time resolved that the cows of the Karimojong be returned to them, a resolution that the county governor acted contrary to. The conflict then continued with the Karimojong always crossing the border to the Teso side to raid cows, including in the Southern districts of Teso that are far from the border. To try to resolve this conflict, the colonial government demarcated the border using acid but this has been a futile effort as the
The conflict seems to have taken a new turn with community members claiming that there is a section of members of the community further perpetrating the conflict. Isaac Ogwang, the district youth chairperson for Katakwi district says that there are sections of people profiteering from this conflicts and these people are always against the resolutions to solve the conflict. During a peace dialogue organized by Teso-Karamoja Media Agency and Arigatou International-Nairobi between the Teso and Karamoja Youth that was held in October 2021, Ogwang empharsied that these people have always continued failing the efforts that government and other development agencies have put to solve the conflict. He called upon fellow youth from Teso and Karamoja to shun the violent actions of their parents and seek for peaceful solutions to the border problem.
According to Moru James, the district youth chairperson of Napak district, these type of people also exist is the Karamoja side. He say that the “modern perpetrators” of this conflict are reaping big money and getting many heads of cows from the conflict.
Children, youth and women suffer the most from this conflict. Several youths expressed how they are suffering from this conflict during the peace dialogue between Teso and Karamoja Youth. The youth say that some of them, together with their families have been displaced, houses burnt and have had to miss school because of this conflict.
Joan Nakato, a member of the Youth in Action, a group of young people that work to promote peace notes that in situations like this, children, youth and women suffer the most although men also suffer. She further says that situations like this usually lead to loss of lives.
The communities that live along the Teso-Karamoja green belt corridor are the ones that have witnessed the most part of this conflict. According to Denis Okoi, the deputy RDC of Katakwi district, the people living along the border have witnessed worse things that arise as a result of this conflict including witnessing killings of family members and neighbors. According to him, these border communities are witnesses but also victims at the same time. He however says that government is committed to doing all that is possible to end this conflict including a security road along the border.
The Teso-Karamoja border conflict seems to escalate day in day out. There have been several efforts towards solving the conflict but have all been futile because of the deliberate efforts by certain sections of people who are making profits from it in the two communities. The two communities are calling upon government to come in with practical solutions to this conflict.