Community Safety, Livelihoods and Socio-Economic Development in Karamoja

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In December 2014, the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the Danish Demining Group (DDG) decided to collaborate in a survey of the Danish Refugee Council (DRC)/DDG’s armed violence reduction (AVR) programme in the Karamoja region of eastern Uganda.

The survey objectives, agreed between DRC/DDG and the GICHD, were to:
• identify what AVR activities have had the most positive impact on safety, livelihoods and socio-economic well-being, and why;
• identify any negative impacts on any intended beneficiaries and the reasons for them; and
• provide recommendations to help DRC/DDG improve their activities and impact.

GICHD advisor Åsa Massleberg and independent livelihoods consultant Barry Pound took the lead in developing methodology, training the surveyors, implementing the survey, analysing the results and drafting the survey report while DRC/DDG assisted with dedicating several of its staff to the survey, and with hiring eight female and eight male enumerators from the Karamoja region.

The survey team used a mix of participatory qualitative and quantitative tools (household questionnaire with 415 villagers conducted using tablets, focus group discussions, key informant interviews and case studies) designed to understand the linkages between programme activities, community safety and livelihoods. The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework, which looks at the assets that can be accessed by rural communities, and the impact of shocks on these assets was used to understand the outcomes of the AVR programme on stakeholders within a sample of 12 villages within Moroto and Napak Districts of Karamoja.

The survey coordinators were conscious of mainstreaming gender and diversity considerations throughout the survey’s planning, design, training, implementation and analysis stages.

Survey findings

Karamoja is the least developed region of Uganda, with 82 per cent of the population living below poverty line. Livestock ownership is of great value and status among the Karamajong and is central to cultural, economic and social life. Cattle-raiding is related to the desire to accumulate cattle, and is a potent factor in insecurity in the
region. A special report on Security Provision and Small Arms in Karamojaa suggests three types of conflict: a) conflict and insecurity between ethnic groups; b) conflict between the State and Karamoja society; and c) conflict and insecurity within ethnic groups.

Main challenges facing Karamoja include poverty, lack of resources, lack of alternative livelihoods and lack of education, negative cultural practices and mistrust and resentment engendered by forced disarmament. Main drivers of conflict include uneven disarmament, poverty and hunger, illiteracy and unemployment, high bride price (reduced over recent years), and access to weapons. It is a cause for reflection that the DRC/DDG AVR programme is not directly tackling many of these main drivers of conflict, although a complementary DRC/DDG programme for Livelihoods and General Food Distribution is addressing hunger and unemployment.

Impact of specific AVR activities

AVR programme activities include the participatory development of community safety plans, conflict management education for communities and security providers, small arms and light weapons sensitization through drama and song, community regular meetings and peace meetings.

Community safety plans (CSPs) are owned by communities and are effective as they have influence beyond direct AVR by focusing on issues such as rape, education and alternative livelihoods. They impact on community safety through a number of mechanisms, and allow other organisations to build initiatives around community safety committee (CSC) structures.

Conflict management education (CME) for communities has proved to be effective in raising awareness of domestic conflict in particular, and providing a framework for individuals and families to confront issues before they escalate, while CME for the security providers has led to a greater awareness of the negative consequences
of conflict with communities, and changes in practices and attitudes in the security providers. This has led to increased trust and interaction between communities and security providers, and has improved security providers’ response to security threats.

Small arms and light weapons sensitisation (SALW) has been very effective in changing attitudes about gun ownership. Drama, song and radio have reached a mass audience and also touch on other social problems (drunkenness, domestic violence, rape and school enrollment).

Community regular meetings have been effective in bringing civic and military stakeholders together, discussing safety challenges and formulating, expediting and following up on actions to be taken.

Peace meetings have proved effective in bringing conflicting parties together to try to resolve differences and cut the cycle of raids and counter-raids.

Evidence from the survey shows that all six AVR activities are perceived as useful by local communities and key informants and that community safety has improved during the programme period. There is also strong evidence that the AVR programme, together with efforts by other agencies and some key changes in cultural norms, have been effective in raising awareness of the dangers and consequences of violence, and in actually reducing violence between tribes, between families and within families. Overall, community safety has improved over the programme period to date.

While external threats from raiding have diminished, conflicts within families and within villages represent bigger problems for communities. Abduction is perceived to have diminished, but the threat of theft is significantly more serious now. In addition to safety benefits, households’ economic well-being appears to have improved during
the programme period.

Impact of the AVR programme on community development

It is often assumed that improved safety automatically results in enhanced development. This report emphasises that, while safety and security are preconditions for sustainable development, improved safety does not always lead to improved development.

Experiences from Karamoja indicate that significant improvement in livelihoods requires considerably more than just improved safety. Communities struggle to identify alternative livelihoods and many informants noted that they are hungrier now compared to 10 years ago.

Fortunately, many encouraging activities exist, and can be built on, such as DRC/DDG’s livelihoods programme, establishment of village saving and loan associations (VSLAs), the Nabulatok resolution, communities reporting incidents to the police, collaboration between Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and Local Defence
Units (LDUs), and the fact that many people are tired of violence.

Gender dimensions

Many of the survey findings reveal a surprising level of consistency between women and men’s perceptions related to safety, threats to safety and the significance and usefulness of DRC/DDG’s activities. There are, however, a few instances when differences can be detected, including the perceived safety threats related to rape, with
women perceiving rape as a greater threat than men. Findings reveal that women are less aware of and participate less in all AVR activities compared to men. This difference clearly indicates the importance of including both women and men in surveys, and of collecting and analysing all data in a sex-disaggregated manner, to enable the identification of such differences in the first place.

Synergies between DRC/DDG’s AVR and livelihoods programmes

The Uganda programme has strong structural and programming synergies between its DRC/DDG components (AVR and Livelihoods). These synergies are particularly relevant, given the linkages between safety, socio-economic development and livelihoods.

Recommendations addressing primary drivers of conflict

convene stakeholder workshops to map the present disarmament situation in Karamoja, and any trends that are emerging;
share key workshop findings and recommendations with relevant authorities and security providers;
utilise DRC/DDG’s presence in Kenya and South Sudan and further build on, and strengthen, cross-border programme collaborations;
commission research on the trajectory of bride prices in different parts of Karamoja, and include issues related to bride price moderation in sensitisation drama and songs;
identify potential areas of employment and income generation for women and men;
identify suitable training and resources required to support women and men in gainful employment;
encourage the government to enforce national minimum labour standards on employers;
develop a strategy that allows DRC/DDG to gradually move from a humanitarian agricultural livelihoods programme to a development programme;
develop environmentally sustainable, community-level land-use plans to start reversing dependence on the present survival-induced degrading conversion of natural capital to financial capital;
encourage the establishment of district agricultural task forces to coordinate land-based development in a transparent way.

Recommendations for specific AVR activities:

pay more attention to gender dimensions in programme design and implementation phases;
ensure women are better informed of the various activities;
ensure all sensitisation work that targets girls and women specifically is designed in ways that recognise the high level of female illiteracy;
encourage active participation of female community members in all AVR activities;
promote increased awareness among women and men of the reasons why it is important to involve women in peace meetings to promote inclusive and sustainable peace;
identify and implement a process to enable the monitoring, reviewing and updating of CSPs;
develop and implement a programme of capacity-building to refresh and augment the skills and knowledge of CSCs;
continue with CME to consolidate awareness of conflict issues and their management;
continue to use training of trainers (ToT) to embed skills and knowledge of CME locally and to extend its reach to more communities;
continue to provide monitoring and overall coordination of the CME programme;
continue with SALW sensitisation to consolidate awareness;
devolve responsibility for CRM to the appropriate government authorities; and
devolve responsibility for peace meetings to the appropriate government authorities.


Full report available at Community-safety-livelihoods-socioeconomic-development-Uganda-June2015