Lira District which was formed in 1974 from the then Lango District is occupied by the Lango ethnic group with its sister districts Apac , Oyam, Otuke, Alebtong, Amolatar, Kole and Dokolo also mainly occupied by the Lango ethnic group.
The Langi originated from Abyssinia in Ethiopia. They are considered to be part of the Nilo-Hamites (also known as semi-Hamitic) group which includes the Teso, Kumam, Jie and Karamojong tribes. The Lango, in contrast of their fellows, have adopted the simpler Nilotic tongue. It is believed that their move from further North into the present habitat took place between the years 1800-1890 approximately.
Apart from times of wars, when some sort of cohesion was achieved under one or two war leaders, the Langi before the advent of British Administration in 1889, were divided into many small groups or clans each with its own leader, i.e. chieftainship. British Administration of the District dates back to 1900. It was effected in the main by peaceful generation. Administration in the early days was in the hands of Buganda agents.
The present district headquarters at Lira were established in 1914.
The economy of the district is mainly based on agriculture, with 81% of the population engaged in subsistence farming. Other sector in economy includes agro processing industries (3.1%), commercial activities and banking (15.9%).
At independence cotton was the major cash crop but its production has declined and has lost glory. Crops hitherto were mainly food crops such as millet, simsim, cassava, Groundnut, beans, pegon peas, cowpeas, sorgum, sweet potatoes and other recently introduced crops such as rice, sunflower, soya beans, maize and horticultural crops serve both as food and cash crops.
Cattle used to be a big source of wealth as well, but this has totally been eroded by cattle rustling and LRA war from 1987-2006 which virtually depleted the stock of animals from 316,000 in 1987 to about 80,000 in 2002. With improved security situation since 2006 the live stock population in the District is as below:
Cattle 159,533, goats 161,711, sheep 12,749, pigs 28,631 and chicken 1,116,903.
The district is out of danger of sporadic cattle theft of the hitherto endemic problems associated with cattle rustling of the 1980’s following the creation of new districts that established security checks.
Industrialisation is at a very low level. Most industries are involved in agro processing such as edible oil production, bakery, maize and rice milling and printeries.
Poverty profile of the District
- Income levels
Poverty levels are high in Lira; 71% of the population are living below the poverty line, (hard core poor) by 2002 this situation was even made worse by increased LRA war which displaced people in IDP camps from late 2002 – December 2006. This increased the poverty levels and the Average household income declined from Ush. 170,000= per annum in 2002 to estimated shs. 110,000 per annum in 2008
There are various sources of revenue for the district including Central Government transfers and donor funds. The most important source of local revenue for along time was Graduated Tax until the financial year 2004/05 when it was abolished. The major sources of local revenue by categories are: Property taxes, User charges, local service and hotel taxes and miscellaneous sources. The district now has a great challenge to explore other sources of revenue to sustain its great development needs.
The district has a population of 377,800 as per the projection from 2002 National housing and population census