The Kaabong Peace Ambassadors were started by a group of former warriors who, prior to 2015, worked together to raid cattle, hide in the bush in South Sudan and terrorise community members in and around their town of Kaabong in Karamoja, Uganda.
Following a particularly violent incident in which the group lost a great number of their members, they had a collective realisation that their lives could be much improved through disarmament, reconciliation and alternative livelihood pursuits. The group therefore decided to hand over their weapons and approach DADO, who connected them with Mercy Corps and CECORE for assistance in setting up group savings and reconciling with themselves and the community.
When the warriors first returned to the community, they went from family to family apologising for what they had done. The community received them well and today the group no longer faces stigma
The group’s activities have now expanded to include assisting family conflict resolution, counselling on family savings and advising on business start-ups. One group member described their work as, “When we see a situation that is unstable, we try to bring balance. That is peace.”
The group still finds it difficult at times to find the income to contribute to the collective savings each Sunday but they would like to continue to grow their peacebuilding and livelihood activities within and beyond the community.
The Naporoto Youth Peace Group was created by a number of reformed warriors and community members from the border village of Kalapata in the Karamoja region of Uganda.
Just a few kilometres from the borders with Kenya and South Sudan, many members of the group used to raid cattle and fight the Ugandan government then cross the borders to escape capture.
When the government initiated a program to collect small arms in the region, together with the wives of the warriors, the local counsellor reached out to those hiding in the bush. He provided his phone number so they could call and negotiate their safe return, assuring them that they would not be arrested or threatened.
When the warriors first returned, they found they were singled out and kept at arm’s length from the rest of the community. However, many were able to rejoin their families and start the Youth Peace Group together with their family members and others from the community. The group has now been gathering for a number of years to discuss and work through the various issues faced by the community, including threats from other nearby communities, alternative livelihood options, and group gardens.
While the community still faces challenges, the former warriors report that they are now able to live and work together with the others in peace. The group now wishes to be able to carry on holding regular discussion sessions and to help educate others in their community and beyond in order to spread the word that peace is possible and brings prosperity. They have also recently begun group savings and are discussing buying livestock together.
In 2000 the United Nations drafted the resolution 1325 as a response to the changing nature of warfare, in which civilians were increasingly targeted, and women continued to be excluded from participating in peace processes. UNSCR 1325 addresses the crucial role women play in conflict management, conflict resolution and sustainable peace.
The Center for Conflict Resolution, one of the pioneer organizations in Uganda to include women in peace and reconciliation processes, was invited to participate in a 2-day reflection meeting for the Uganda 1325 Coalition, organized by the Centre for Women in Governance (CEWIGO).
Since 2010, CEWIGO has worked with the Uganda UNSCR 1325 Coalition on and in partnership with the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development to monitor the progress Uganda makes each year on the implementation of the action plan on UNSCR 1325 & 1820 and the Goma Declaration.
The objectives of the meeting were:
Evaluate progress made from monitoring the implementation of the National Action Plan on implementing the UNSCR 1325, 1820 and the Goma Declaration.
Evaluate coalition member’s contribution to deepening the understanding and application of UNSCR 1325.
Share experiences and build cohesion amongst the Uganda 1325 coalition.
Discuss and agree on enhancing the advocacy strategy for the Uganda UNSCR 1325 coalition after June 2016.
The 2-day event took place on June 15th and 16th at the Esella Country Resort in Kampala.
Representing CECORE, Mr. Patrick Bwire (Program Coordinator), Ms. Lydia Aballa (Project Officer) and Ms. Anna Harty (Intern) were present during this event to evaluate and share experiences regarding the implementation of the DGF 3-year funded project “Deepening the Understanding and Application of UNSCR 1325” project.
The conflict in northern Uganda, which started in 1986, was the most protracted and devastating conflict in the history of post-independence Uganda. During the war, hundreds of people were abducted, maimed, raped, mutilated, killed, forced into rebellion and thousands more forced to flee their homes to live in Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) camps. The greater portion of the community was traumatized because of the abuses inflicted on them or in their presence. Much as Northern Uganda can now be referred as being in a post conflict era, this stage is one of the most fragile phases of the conflict that must be handled in a conflict sensitive approach.
Initially launched in 2008, the Peace Recovery and Development Plan, a comprehensive development project involving govermne actors, non-profit organizations and communities, aimed to bring Northern Uganda up to speed with the rest of the country.
The National Dialogue on Service Delivery in Northern Uganda, an event organized by ActionAid, on June 2, 2016, served as a sort of evaluation of phases I & II of the PRDP and a forum for recommendations looking forward to phase III next fall.
Arthur Laroke, the country director of ActionAid Uganda, opened up the floor with a remark that set a tone of deep relfection, over the actions of government and civil society, for the rest of the event.
“There is a common joke in and among NGOs that when we meet, especially in Hotels like this – 4 Star, 5 star or whatever star, we ‘eat and feast on behalf of the poor.’ While this may indeed be a joke, it does present us with a big challenge – a challenge to make this and any other such meeting deliver the ultimate outcome,” said Laroke.
The Center for Conflict Resolution’s director, Ms. Rose Othieno, was invited as part of the key stakeholders working in the region.
Center for Conflict Resolution (CECORE) has been participated in a number of efforts aimed at transforming the conflicts in Northern Uganda. Among these include, participation in advocacy and engendering the Juba Peace Talks between the Government of Uganda and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), skills trainings for actors in peace building, empowerment of leaders and community members on implementation of the United Nations Resolution 1325, advocacy for a gender responsive PRDP (Peace Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda), among others.
CECORE is currently implementing the Cross-border conflict transformation project in the Loki-Kapoeta cross-border corridor, in partnership with DADO (Dodoth Agro-Pastoralist Development Organization.) The project mainly involves the pastoral communities of Dototh (Uganda), Turkana (Kenya) and Toposa (South Sudan).
For more information about the project you can read CECORE’s situational analysis report.
In 2008 the Ministry of Justice of Uganda commissioned the most comprehensive survey of land disputes country-wide up to date. The survey showed that in 20 districts, land disputes ranked the highest among conflicts and they usually become the cause of other conflicts such as family and domestic violence, assault and murder. The survey pointed out a lapse in land tenure administration and management, especially with regards to boundaries, land ownership, land transmission, occupation, trespass and fraudulent transactions.
Today, eight years after the publication of the Ministry of Justice’s survey, the land situation in several parts of the country has not seen much improvement.
“Most of our institutions they have not titled their land. People don’t care about protecting their land. (…) One morning people get there and took off (sic) about 10 acres of land,” explained Robert Wandwasi, Community Development Officer for the Mbale district.
Wandwasi was referring to the recent case of Nabumali High School, an institution that has been present in Mbale since 1912, and is now the victim of land grabbing by the community. The land where the school stands was given for free to the Church Missionary Society and the school never registered it.
Nabumali High School is just one example of the land conflicts the district of Mbale is currently facing.
Members of the Center for Conflict Resolution and Saferworld, both peace-building organizations, are currently implementing the one-year project “Integrating conflict sensitivity in land governance for conflict prevention and resolution.” As part of this project they met with government representatives, lawyers and urban practitioners to raise awareness of the most common land frauds and problems people face regarding land ownership.
The group identified 11 most common fraudulent activities in the district: