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Regional Report On The Nexus Between Illicit SALW Proliferation And Cattle Rustling (Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan And Uganda)
Regional Report On The Nexus Between Illicit SALW Proliferation And Cattle Rustling (Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan And Uganda)

Cattle rustling in the Horn and East African regions has existed for many centuries. Traditionally it was sanctioned by elders and played as a game aimed at replenishing lost herds and for cultural practices including dowry payment and as proof of one’s manhood and brevity. However, in the last 30 years, the practice changed from a noble practice to a lethal commercial activity involving diverse actors. The extent and seriousness of cattle rustling in the region has largely been attributed to the availability of illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).

This study sought to establish the nexus between cattle rustling and proliferation of illicit SALW and their impact on development and livelihoods. The study covered five countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda.

The strong correlation between cattle rustling and proliferation of illicit SALW creates a vicious cycle where illicit SALW creates a more violent business of cattle rustling. This in turn leads to higher proceeds, which facilitates the acquisition of more sophisticated illicit SALW. It was also established that in Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia cattle rustling has become more militarised and commercialised. In Somalia, livestock theft has replaced traditional cattle rustling while in Uganda government efforts have seen it reduce to cattle theft.

Proliferation of illicit SALW, porous borders, socio-cultural perceptions, weak legislations and inadequate state presence were identified as the main drivers of cattle rustling. In all the countries of study, governments in partnership with regional and international actors have put diverse measures to control cattle rustling and proliferation of illicit SALW. Many of these efforts have borne limited results. In order to build resilience, the study recommends the following; control of proliferation of illicit SALW, increased cross-border collaboration,investment in alternative livelihood programs, promotion of cultural dialogue on conflict resolution mechanisms,strengthen local governance structures, and development and harmonization of livestock identification and traceability systems (LITS).

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