Cattle Corridor

The cattle corridor is land stretching from south western to north eastern Uganda characterised with high rainfall variability and periodic droughts covering 29 districts through to Tanzania. During the recent census for livestock it was estimated Uganda to have about 11.4 million cattle (Uganda National Livestock census report, 2008). The cattle corridor hosting about 7.3 million cattle, this summing up to 2,701.073 million litres of methane per day. There was a 0.3 degrees Celsius increase in temperature in 2009 (Nicholas, 2011) around the cattle corridor and further 2 degrees Celsius is expected in the coming few decades. The above might be due to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions mainly methane during digestion of cattle and the clearing of forests for ranching.

In a recent UN report growing herds of cattle are the biggest threat to the climate, wildlife and forests. The 1.5 billion cattle is responsible for about 18% of greenhouse gases more than all kinds of transport put together.  About 9% of carbon dioxide emissions is produced during cattle rearing preparations, which cattle produces methane gas (microbes by product) during digestion a greenhouse gas that warms the earth 20 times faster than carbon dioxide though less prevalent in the atmosphere.  Ranching is the biggest deforestation driver known to man, it takes 990 litres of water to produce one litre of milk (The Independent, 2006). In a research done by Crown Research Institute in New Zealand, about 95% of the gas comes from the mouth than it’s behind, producing about 370.01 litres of methane per day (Allan F. Raymond, 2013).

In the north eastern part of Uganda in 5 districts we find the Karimojong a pastoralist tribe that has had problems dating from the colonial era where they introduced a weed called Lantana Camara to control their livestock. The karimojong for years have had freedom in grazing their cattle looking for areas with nutrients, rainfall and minerals, Karamoja sub region was estimated to have 2.3 million cattle (Uganda National Livestock census report, 2008) with Kotido having the highest 694,250 (851.023 million litres of methane per day). Heavy reliance to cattle keeping has left the karamoja sub region susceptible to food insecurity (640,000 are facing food shortages) due to the 4 year dry spell and recently they have been hunger related deaths in the region.  

By Kateregga Dennis, BA(ECON), Dip. IEL 


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