North East Uganda-Karamoja

This is the most extensive of the semiarid areas of Uganda. It has high evapo-transpiration with low and erratic moisture input. In the long dry seasons this is hot, dust laden country. An indicator of the existing water balance is the intermittent rivers  which carry surface water only for a few hours to a few days after  rains.  They carry sub surface water for a large part of the year. This is the main dry season water source for people and for livestock.   In 1963 there were only a few permanent late dry season water holes and a limited number of deep wells provided by the administration. Cattle watering during the late dry season was often difficult.

The settled areas were 3500 to 6000 feet in elevation, at latitudes of 1°30' to about  3° 45' north.  This is tropical highland.

Dodos cattle sale

1963 was a year  of civil disorder in Karamoja and the area was closed to civilian aircraft. The photo coverage had to be pieced together. Napore/Nyangeya had been flown and photographed for the East African Tsetse Control Department in 1954. In 1963 the Police Department plane occasionally flew in and out of Karamoja and permitted me to ride with them for flights over Bokora.  Labwor/Nyakwai was photographed when the aircraft strayed off course on a flight  to photograph the Lango area  to the west. For  Dodos and Jie there are no low altitude air photos, but high altitude air photos from the Uganda Survey Department are used to show settlement layout. Partial overviews were obtained by photographing from the tops of inselbergs or rock islands against which both Dodos and Jie locate many settlements.

Note on lack of cattle visibility: although these were cattle keeping societies with two to four cattle per person, cattle were not visible in or around settlements during the day. They were being grazed  and watered, near home settlements during the wet season but in the dry season 10 to 20 miles away at the few remaining water holes.

The distribution of tribal groups within north east Uganda is shown on the  map on the home page.  In the far north were the Dodos.  To the west of Dodos, the Napore/Nyangeya were located along the Nyangeya mountains. South of the Dodos  were the Jie around Kotido.  Further south were the Karamajong with their subgroups: Bokora in the west, Mathiniko in the east and to the north of Moroto.  The Labwor/Nyakwai were settled around the Labwor mountains in western central Karamoja. Not studied were the Teuso, a small group in the mount Zulia area, the Tepeth, a tiny population in the high mountains of the south and two Karamajong sub groups the Pian and Upe in the far south.  

© 2010