Moroto, a district named after pythons



By Steven Ariong (2015)

Moroto, UGANDA


Moroto district is a mother of seven districts that constitute Karamoja sub-region and in the history it’s the homeland of the Karimojong people.


The name ‘Moroto’ originated from a word Emoroto, meaning python. It’s the district that produced other six districts namely Nakapiriripirit, Amudat, Napak, Kotido, Kaabong and Abim. In the 1930s during the colonial time, the area was full of pythons.


Moroto district borders Kaabong district to the north, Kenya to the east, Amudat district to the south, Nakapiripirit district to the southwest, Napak district to the west and Kotido and Abim to the northwest. It lies on the foot of Mt. Moroto.


The six other districts were hived out of the larger Moroto to help bring services closer to people. Apart from the larger Karimojong tribe, there are other sub-ethnic groups and each sub-group occupies a district carved out of Moroto.


Kaabong district serves the Dodoth ethnic group, Kotido district is home to the Jie in Kotido, Napak district hosts the Bokora, Nakapiripirit district serves the Pian, Amudat district is home to the Pokots, Abim district serves the Ethur, while Moroto, the mother district is now predominantly occupied by the Matheniko sub-tribe.


The 2013 report by the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics shows that the population of Moroto district is 411,157 people. It is known for conflicts due to cattle rustling between the Matheniko and other neighbouring communities.


The situation currently has normalized after the government disarmed the Karimojong and now several development activities are taking shape in the district. It is a hub of mineral resources that are yet to be optimally exploited. It is believed that there are about 50 different minerals and precious stones in Moroto including gold, silver, copper, iron, titanium, manganese, niobium, tantalite and chrome. Others are marble, mica, garnets, limestone and asbestos.


Moroto is the district headquarters, located approximately 210km northeast of Mbale, the nearest large city. The district and its municipality have 32 schools out of which eight are community schools, one private school and 16 of the schools are government-aided schools.


The district is connected to the national power grid. Currently, there is tarmacking of roads to connect it to Nakapiripirit district and the rest of the country. Subsistence crop and livestock agriculture are the main economic activities in Moroto.