The origin of Caritas dates far back in the Bible times as recorded in Acts 6:2-3. In the early times of Christianity, aid distribution was assigned to a special team of people. Subsequently, as society progressed, different countries started Caritas Offices. In 1897, a national level Caritas was founded in Germany and was followed by Switzerland in 1901. In 1954, Pope Pius XII convoked all the Catholic organizations involved in charitable and social works to address the worsening post World War II problems. This marked the birth of the international confederation of Catholic charities which later became Caritas International in 1957. In 1999, the Uganda Episcopal Conference adopted the name Caritas to represent its Social Services and Development (SSD) Departments.
Caritas Moroto Diocese (previously referred to as Social Services and Development/SSD), is the social development arm of Moroto Catholic Diocese. The Department was created in 1981 as a technical arm of Moroto Diocese with the purpose of distributing relief food in the Diocese following the prolonged drought and consequent famine that had struck the whole region of Karamoja and killed thousands of people. During the relief emergency period, SSD (Caritas) was mandated to oversee all the diocesan agricultural projects and development programs. It was in that time that the Diocese of Moroto established the tractor schemes of Namalu, Iriiri, Morulem and Karenga parishes to ensure that food security is enhanced.
In 1996, Caritas Moroto Diocese entered into partnership with Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (CORDAID) which funded core institutional development and establishment of Iriiri Farmers’ Society (IFS).
From 2002-2005, with support from CORDAID, Caritas Moroto Diocese started the first Integrated Community Development Program (INCODEP I), in Iriiri. The programme had four long-term objectives namely: a) Increased participation by rural adults in development activities; b) Gender sensitivity integrated in all programmes; c) Peaceful communities with increased incomes at household level; and d) Rural communities empowered to produce enough food for the community.
INCODEP II ran from 2006 to 2008 and was also funded by CORDAID with the objectives: a) Improved capacity of the community in peace building and conflict transformation; b) Empowered community for equitable and sustainable rural development; c) Improved capacity of the community to cope with vulnerability; and d) An efficient and effectively functioning SSD (Caritas Moroto Diocese).
INCODEP III ran from 2009 to 2011. In this phase, two other donor partners joined hands with CORDAID to support Caritas Moroto Diocese, namely Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) and Dan Church Aid (DCA). The programme operated along five objectives: a) Improved livelihoods of the rural communities in a sustainable way (apiary, crop diversification, goat improvement, and Income Generating Activities); b) Empowered vulnerable groups to be self-reliant and communities to cope with and manage disasters (emergency response, community disaster management, support to vulnerable groups); c) Empowered women and other marginalised groups to be fully involved as decision-makers in the community and to have equal access to and control over resources (Gender-Based Violence, child protection, Human Immune Deficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), leadership and empowerment); d) Develop effective ways of promoting peace, human rights and justice at all levels (violence reduction, human rights promotion, action to better governance and transparency); e) Develop a strong and effective organisation capable of fulfilling the above objectives.
From 2011 to 2015, Caritas Moroto Diocese with the support of CORDAID implemented Climate Proof Disaster Risk Reduction (CPDRR) aimed at enhancing community capacities to be able to build resilient livelihoods to hazards and disasters for sustainable achievement of food security. The area of operation was at the slopes of Mount Napak in the parishes of Tepeth and Nabwal.
As a continuation of the above project, in 2016, Caritas Moroto and CORDAID in conjunction with Acacia Water, Caritas Kotido, Transcultural Psychosocial Organization -Uganda (TPO), River Dwellers’ Aid Intercity Network (RAIN), Soroti Catholic Diocese Integrated Development Organisation (SOCADIDO) and Wetland International implemented an Integrated Water Resources Management Project aimed at improving management of Lokok and Lokere catchment areas.
In the meantime, Caritas Moroto Diocese had entered into partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and with Funding from DFID to pilot implementation of Agro Pastoral Farmer Field Schools (APFS), Upon its successful implementation, FAO entered into an agreement with Caritas Moroto Diocese from2012 – 2016 to implement APFS in order to strengthen the adaptive capacity of Agro-pastoral communities to reduce impact of climate risks on livelihoods in Karamoja.
Caritas Moroto Diocese has had a running strategic partnership with the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) in a number of projects implemented from 2011–2015 in Moroto, Amudat, Napak and Nakapiripirit districts. These engagements have been through initiatives such as; The Food Security Emergency project implemented in Moroto and Napak Districts. The Integrated Food Security Project (IFSP) implemented in Moroto, Nakapiripirit, and in Napak districts. The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene project (WASH-Match Fund IV) implemented in Moroto district. Besides these, CAFOD has also supported Caritas Moroto Diocese in ensuring that compliance measures are enhanced through policy review and developments.
With support from the Association of the Catholic Bishops in Germany (MISEREOR), the Happy Cow Project was initiated in 1998, concentrating on the promotion of livestock health and peace building activities among the warring pastoralists within Moroto and Kotido Dioceses; It was later integrated into Caritas Moroto Diocese department in 2013
From then on, the Happy Cow Project, has been implementing livelihoods support and sustainable natural resource management projects, with the aim of contributing towards the promotion of socio-economic transformation and empowerment of agro-pastoral communities in Karamoja. In 2015, an end of project evaluation was carried out by Misereor and the scope of operation was reduced to only consider Moroto Diocese.
From 2015 to 2017, Dan Church Aid (DCA) in Consortium with Act Alliance partnered with Caritas Moroto Diocese to implement a project: “Strengthening of local climate change advocacy – Making voices heard in the climate debate”. The project aimed at advocating for climate change financing using the church structures. It was implemented in 15 districts of Karamoja and Teso Sub-regions in supporting local advocacy groups to advocate for climate change. Caritas Moroto Diocese implemented this project in Moroto and Nakapiripirit districts.
In October 2017, Caritas Moroto Diocese signed an agreement with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to implement a five-year (October 2017 September 2022) Development Food Security Activities (DFSA) Programme entitled “Nuyok” meaning “Ours”. Its aim is to ensure that communities and institutions have:- a) Sustained improvement in food and nutrition security, and b) community asset management to support vulnerable households, pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls and children under five in the districts of Nakapiripirit, Napak and Nabilatuk.
Through the same partnership with CRS Caritas Moroto implemented an emergency project on locust and COVID-19 response.
In 2020, Caritas Moroto Diocese entered into an agreement with Caritas Uganda and SOCADIDO with funding from Caritas Korea to implement six months’ (January to June 2020) pilot project on resilience enhancement and capacity strengthening on food security among the households in Moroto and Soroti Dioceses.
In the same year, Caritas Moroto Diocese entered into an agreement with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Moroto integrated Territorial development program entitled “towards a possible UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Designation for territories of Mount Moroto in Karamoja” to strengthen man and biosphere conservation.