The task force overseeing the eviction of non-compliant Balaalo (nomadic pastoralists) in Northern Uganda confirmed the relocation of 240 cattle on Saturday, January 6, 2024. The Amuru Resident District Commissioner, Stephen Odong Latek, revealed that the cattle, impounded in Amuru district between November 2023 and January 2024, were driven away from Lakang Sub-County to government-owned land designated for sugarcane cultivation through the Madhvani company.
The 240 cattle were part of over 1,000 heads intercepted during the ongoing eviction process. Latek specified that these cattle were previously evicted from nomadic pastoralist Joshua Kato, who had illegally settled on Lakang sub-county government land. The cattle were transported to Nakasongola district.
Operation Harmony, as named by Latek, is part of the implementation of the Presidential Executive Order issued by President Yoweri Museveni on May 19, 2023. The order directed non-compliant nomadic pastoralists to vacate the region by November 24, 2023. The task force, following a short break during the Christmas holiday, resumed the operation to fulfill the requirements of the Presidential Executive Order.
Latek emphasized that the evictions are not motivated by tribal sentiment or political sabotage but are a fulfillment of the Presidential Order. He clarified that the task force’s focus is solely on removing non-compliant Balaalo, while questions related to land ownership and transactions will be handled by the President’s office.
Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, the State Minister for Northern Uganda in the Office of the Prime Minister, outlined the conditions specified in Executive Order 3 for compliance. These conditions include four-strand wire fencing, a water trench for animals, proportional animal numbers to land size, and land ownership that is not government-owned.
Despite challenges such as poor road conditions and logistical issues, Latek mentioned that the task force is working within its budget. However, he expressed optimism that Parliament’s allocation of budgets will further support the ongoing exercise.
As of December 15, 2023, a total of 4,692 cattle had been impounded in northern Uganda. Out of these, 3,386 were already evicted from the region, and 1,306 were held in different animal holding centers awaiting eviction since the launch of the campaign in November 2023.
The eviction of non-compliant Balaalo follows the series of deadlines set by President Museveni through Order 3, originally issued on May 19, 2023. The order was later extended to June 30 and then to November 4, when the President met with cattle keepers in Okidi parish, Atiak sub-county in Amuru, giving them a three-week ultimatum to leave the region.