Dialogue has replaced armed violence in North Eastern UgandaIn 2010, ten people died and two were disabled as a result of domestic fights involving weapons in the Moroto district in Karamoja, Uganda. In 2011, five similar deaths were reported, but since the beginning of 2012 fewer cases of injuries are emerging. This is a sign of the impact of the Armed Violence Reduction (AVR) project, initiated by the Danish Demining Group/Danish Refugee Council (DDG/DRC).
In the Tepeth community in the Moroto district, armed violence used to cause more than 60% of all deaths and cases of disability. However, the percentage has been reduced to 30-40% since DDG's AVR project, aimed at reducing fighting, began. The Tepeth communities are positive and supportive of the interventions.
"Fights and threats of small arms have reduced since DDG/DRC started engaging communities in peaceful conflict-solving mechanisms and the village-vise drama groups have equally done a lot in terms of sensitizing and educating our people", says Sisto Lokiru, the sub-county Internal Security Officer in Tapac, about the safety inventions.
Culturally, the Tepeth, like other Karimojong clans, used sticks, spears, bows and arrows to settle disputes in their homesteads. Unfortunately, such confrontations would ultimately result in injuries or loss of lives. Moreover, the llegal possesion of fire arms further worsened the situation. Furthermore, road ambushes and clashes during animal raids with neighbouring warriors would lead to more deaths.
In October 2011, DDG/DRC started implemeting the AVR project in this sub-county, with the aim of decreasing the use of small arms and light weapons that cause violence and affect neighboring communities. Using the most inclusive community-driven strategy, a seven-day workshop resulted in the development of community safety plans. Since then, DRC/DDG have been carrying out a village by village sensitization on the dangers of small arms and light weapons. According to the communities themselves the impact is incredible.
Lomamtal Nakemer, an elder from Napakakimul village in Tapac sub-country, describes the present situation as "getting friendly and free". Lomamtal is thankful that DDG/DRC have created awareness.
DDG/DRC have also bridged the relationship gap between the civilian population and the security service providers, the army and police. Interventions such as Community Regular Meetings and Peace Meetings have played essential roles in ensuring this. Monthly meetings facilitated by DDG/DRC have now become the main platform for raising and settling all forms of disputes and for sharing advice on the security situation. This has resulted in improved communication between the security providers and the civilian community. "It is now very easy for us to track intruders, since our people now know to call either the army or police", says Peter Loboot, the LC111 chair person of the sub-county.
The security providers and the civilian Tepeth community exchange contacts during the monthly meetings. They also share security updates, thus makimg the security providers alert all the time. As a result, roads ambushed are already fading off.