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Valley Tanks - Maintaining a form of livelihoods

Lomunyen-Arengan Valley tank, Rom Rom Parish, Panyangara Sub-county, Kotido district

The North Eastern part of Uganda is dry, with savannah vegetation that is characteristic of semi- arid areas. This describes the Karamoja region, whose people are mainly nomadic pastoralists, moving from one place to another in search of pasture during the long dry spells. With cattle as a source of livelihoods, the Karamojong live in close communities and share pasture for the animals, as well as water for both animal and domestic use.

Between 2010 and 2014, Irish Aid supported a Livelihoods programme through a consortium of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), led by Oxfam GB. The programme, whose main objective was “to contribute to the reduction in marginalisation and the long term, sustainable development of the population of Karamoja”, had the following interventions: Apiary, Valley Tanks, Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA), Kitchen-gardens, Demand Accountability and Advocacy for the National Policy on Pastoralists.

Lomunyen-Arengan valley tank, Kotido sub-county in Kotido district was one of the dams built under this programme. The communities around the valley tank understood and appreciated the need and benefits of having it near their settlements. They participated in the construction of the valley-tank through cash-for-work, a form of Social Protection intervention.

One Karachuna (former warrior) who appreciates the changes that have been brought about by the presence of a valley tank near the settlement said:

“We used to trek long distances in search of water during the dry season. We would stay away from our families for at least three months, until the rainy season begun. Our animals would get infested by ticks and tsetse flies and our wives complained a lot about our absence.”

According to him, the valley tank hasn’t only helped in providing water for animal use, but domestic use as well.

“Hygiene has really improved. Men, women and children are cleaner and rarely fall sick now”.

Throughout the dry season, Lomunyen-Arengan valley tank serves a community living within a radius of approximately 60kms. The five- to six-months dry spell is made bearable by the valley tank that waters the Karimojong source of livelihoods and promotes hygiene in their homes.

Lokitelarachek Valley tank, Panyangara sub-county, Kotido district