The Karamoja Resilience Support Unit (KRSU) is an initiative of USAID/Uganda aimed at increasing resilience and economic development in Karamoja. The KRSU works closely with the Karamoja Development Partners Group to provide reviews, studies and analyses of development and humanitarian programs in Karamoja, and related policy issues. Our focus is on translating evidence and knowledge into practice, through collaborative approaches. The project is implemented by the Feinstein International Center, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, at Tufts University, with offices in Kampala and Moroto, Uganda.
What is working and why?
Which approaches need reshaping?
What can be scaled up, and where is the evidence to support this?
In the history of Karamoja, drought has been one of the most important types of disaster, with major impacts on livelihoods. For livestock-owning households, drought can push both wealthy and poorer households into destitution, and the recovery of herds, their main form of financial capital, takes many years. Drought also has serious impacts on crop production and can decimate harvests. In the case of livestock interventions, there have been notable developments in effective drought response in many countries in the wider East Africa region, including novel partnerships between government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private sector to provide early and more cost-effective programming.
Alcohol consumption in Karamoja, Uganda’s pastoralist-dominated northeastern region, is a well-known and frequently discussed phenomenon in the policy and practice space. Brews made locally of sorghum and maize have sociocultural, nutritional and economic significance. Brewing also serves as a relatively stable and lucrative economic activity for women, in addition to featuring prominently in the adult diet. However, an emerging trend in alcohol use that has become a cause for concern among health officials, development practitioners and, especially, community members themselves is the rise in consumption of hard spirits. The import and production of homemade crude liquor and commercial gin (waragi) into Karamoja is said to have increased dramatically in recent years. Reportedly, its consumption has had visible effects on household economy, interpersonal relationships, and the health and wellbeing of the communities.
Livelihood systems in the Karamoja sub-region of northeastern Uganda have undergone substantial changes in the past two decades due to a number of interlinked processes, including disarmament and improved security, the erosion of pastoral-based production for many households, and the expansion of markets. These transformations have brought new social and economic options for many young people at the same time that existing ecological, cultural and political constraints shape the ways in which these opportunities can be realized. This briefing paper presents evidence from data collected by Feinstein International Center, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University under the Apolou Activity on development opportunities and challenges facing young men and women in the region.