Education for peace

Last month International Alert took part in an event on ‘Education for peace’ in the Uganda-Kenya border town of Moroto, Karamoja region.

The event, which took place on 21 September to celebrate International Peace Day, brought together participants from local communities and delegates from various districts in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda to discuss the opportunities for supporting peace through education in the region. The event was presided over by Hilary Onek, Uganda’s Minister of Relief and Disaster Preparedness.

Various speakers from the local government highlighted the challenges faced by the region, particularly in relation to livestock – a dominant form of livelihood in the Karamoja region. Despite the successful disarmament process carried out by the Ugandan army and the relative peace this has brought, the speakers said that challenges such as youth unemployment and environmental degradation still remain. Various district officials are concerned that unless these issues are adequately addressed, they risk undermining the relative peace that the region has seen so far.

In a joint statement, International Alert together with local civil society organisations from across Uganda called upon the government to provide an effective education policy and approach for Karamoja to enable Karamojong children to compete favourably at the national level.

The event was preceded by a radio talk show, in which land issues were singled out as outstanding source of conflict in the region. Listeners were encouraged to emulate the example of the Matheniko clan (Uganda) and Turkana (Kenya), who have embraced their differences and are currently enjoying a warm relationship.

At a public gathering on International Peace Day, Josphat Nanok, the Governor of Turkana county, also highlighted the importance of peace in development, noting that there needs to be equitable sharing of the region’s newly discovered natural resources, such as oil and water, across borders. He urged the Matheniko and Turkana to help the Pokot (Kenya) and Tepeth (Uganda) clans bury their instruments of war – the latter two are currently involved in major cattle rustling raids, which often result in the loss of life. He also called for the creation of an international school, with branches spread across Karamoja, Turkana, Teso, South Sudan and Ethiopia, to train tomorrow’s peacemakers.

The event was crowned with a symbolic burning of 26 sub-machine guns recovered from the Karamojong warriors by the Ugandan army, to symbolise a milestone in the establishment of peace in Karamoja.

Photo: © Capson Sausi