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Shaping Karamoja’s Development Agenda

By Ambrose Dbins Toolit

Many decades ago, it was common to hear people joke that “we shall not wait for Karamoja to develop”, such remarks were not uttered entirely in jest but as an expression of the reality of the under developed nature Karamoja region.

Karamoja historically has been viewed as a violent, backward, underdeveloped peripheral region since the colonial era. Although Uganda has achieved unprecedented socio-economic progress over the past decades with poverty declining, Karamoja has persistently remained the poorest and most underdeveloped region despite several development interventions.

Based on the human development index, the region is at the bottom of the radar, with one in every two people being poor. Unlike the rest of Uganda, Karamoja presents a unique development challenge. It is a semi-arid, characterised by a combination of acute poverty and persistent famine, vulnerability to drought, poor infrastructural development and basic social service delivery, limited marketing opportunities, natural resource degradation, social-cultural marginalisation, compounded by longstanding dependency on external aid.

Despite these challenges, the region is endowed with several untapped natural resources, livestock, proximity to two strategic international borders that can unlock trade opportunities. Karamoja’ s development potential has been highlighted many times yet untapped. For example, the region is considered as “the basket of Uganda’s minerals” (GOU, 2011) and “top tourist destination because of its stunning scenery and wildlife” (CNN, 2016).

The core aspirations of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to ensure that no one is left behind. For Karamoja region to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of socio-economic development, it requires deliberate-ambitious and collective undertaking to turn its potentials to reality and transform the region; and reach out to the most marginalized especially youth and women.

To shed light on these issues, this paper titled, “Shaping Karamoja’ s Development Agenda in a Changing World: trends, challenges and opportunities for developmentwill be delivered by Ambrose Dbins Toolit at the 5th Annual Teso Development International Conference in London, United Kingdom.

About Ambrose Dbins Toolit.

A born of Karenga, Kaabong district, Karamoja region, Ambrose Dbins TOOLIT is a governance and policy analyst with well demonstrated years of professional experience in international development with the United Nations, International Development organizations and local Civil Society Organisations in Uganda, Lesotho and South Africa. He is currently working with United Nations Development Programme managing United Nations Volunteers Programme for South Africa and Lesotho.

Ambrose holds an MA. International Development Studies from Kimmage Development Study Center, Dublin-Ireland. He attended Makerere University where he received a Post-Graduate Diploma in Social Justice (2016), a Bachelor of Adult and Community Education (2006) and a Diploma in Education of Kyambogo University (1998).

Ambrose is also a founding Executive Member and General Secretary of Karamoja Community UK Foundation, an organisation dedicated to advancing Karamoja’ s development through advocacy, sharing information experiences and strategies about the region in the diaspora