Minerals, especially gold, have brought frantic manoeuvres from mining companies and powerful individuals in government who want to receive money from the precious resource, according to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report. The impact of mining on human rights in Karamoja’, launched on Monday in Kampala, says mining companies have disregarded the region’s indigenous people’s land rights — sometimes fencing off swaths of land without their consent. Land in Karamoja is particularly important to the community, which depends on nomadic pastoralism for survival. Land in Karamoja is owned communally, which makes it difficult for the mining companies to identify the rightful owners for compensation or consultation.
“Private sector investment could transform the region — providing jobs and improving the residents’ security, access to water, roads, and other infrastructure,” the report says. “But as companies have begun to explore and mine the area, communities are voicing serious fears of land grabs, environment damage, and lack of information as to how and when they will see improved access to basic services or other positive impacts.” Karamoja’s 1.2 million people remain enveloped in chronic poverty. Karamoja has the poorest development indicators in the country — highest poverty levels, malnutrition, and 80% of the population living on less than $1 a day.