On the heels of my last blog, I thought I'd share some more Timu moments.
It's green right now. The rains started about a month ago and we see a heavy rain once a week. It's enough to turn the land this lush green (see below).
The pastoral life might have worked for these tribes in the past, when they were truly nomadic and roaming from grazing land to grazing land. But in recent years, they've settled down in one area. They have wells (a reliable water source), schools, healthcare, and free handouts from USAID. Why would they want to move on now? But their problem remains: the land cannot sustain them if they stay settled. The trees (and source of heat for cooking) will be gone. The lands will be overgrazed and their cows thin. They can still farm, but they will face the unpredictability of the weather patterns. And when it doesn't rain for an entire year (like last year), the people won't have food. They'll have to cry for help to NGOs and become dependent once again upon relief and aid. This is a chronic problem in Karamoja.
Yet, how do we break the cycle? How do we help the people to be independent and empowered to survive on their own? I don't have the answers, but I do know one thing. Both the recipients of aid and the aid workers themselves are benefiting from the chronic problems in Karamoja. If the problems went away, so would the hand-outs and the jobs of the aid workers. I suspect that all involved would not want to see that happen, even if it was for the best (true development) of the people. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now. Just wanting to bring up some of the issues we struggle with in this impoverished place. I didn't even mention how marginalized the Ik are for being subjected to this kind of behavior. I'm referring to people moving onto their land and doing as they please. The Ik certainly aren't allowed to move into other subcounties, cut down their trees and 'use' the land as they see fit. Yet it's acceptable for the Karamojong to treat them this way? But marginalization is a topic for another blog.