From 19th – 22nd June, 2018, FRA had engagement meetings with Natural Resource Rights advocacy groups under TEDDO and SOCADIDO,  the Resource Rights partners at the local level in the districts of Kaberamaido and Katakwi respectively. The meetings were meant to inform a common understanding of the legal and policy provisions on natural resource rights especially women’s rights and how mismanagement of Natural resources leads to poverty in Teso.

Two separate meetings were held in each district and attracted over 45 participants per district including advocacy group members and their committees, local partners TEDDO and SOCADIDO and FRA team to facilitate the process. These engagements were a continuation of the meetings held Last year in September where FRA engaged with the same advocacy groups and different views were shared on how water as a resource is perceived in Teso communities. Some of the key challenges were mismanagement of water resources as a result of limited capacity to sustainably manage them, competition for fertile soils near water sources for farming, and sometimes abuse of natural resource rights which have led to increased conflicts, poverty and food insecurity.

Despite the fact that in the last 10 years poverty has reduced by 22 percent in the Eastern region, Teso sub region continues to suffer from poverty mostly due to mismanagement of the available natural resources. Poverty in most cases comes as a result of over dependence on natural resources by the majority of population who has varying interests and roles in using and enjoying the benefits of natural resources. Water resources being at the center of achieving diverse people’s needs has greatly amplified pressure on these resources causing conflicts among community members due to competition to utilize them for livelihood support. The more the increasing population continues to depend on the few water sources like wetlands for rice growing, drinking water for animals and household use, rain patterns have drastically been changing in the region. There are other human activities like tree cutting for firewood and charcoal burning which has escalated drought and resulted into heavy winds causing loss destruction of houses, soil erosion. In the long run the ecosystem is affected leading to delayed rains that limit agricultural production leaving households with little or no food.

For Palam Sub County in Katakwi district, it was recorded that there are no natural resource officers to support communities in managing natural resources. Much as cultural leaders and advocacy groups in Teso sub region have played their role in solving conflicts around natural resources, many people do not know their natural resource rights and entitlements of natural resources. Women who bear the burden of taking household responsibility suffer more than men as natural resources are mismanaged. This calls for a collective approach to promote resource rights and participation in natural resource management especially for women not only looking at them as laborers but should also be equally involved in decision-making processes for sustainable management of these resources.

By Lucky Brian Wamboka

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