Last Updated on: 7th September 2023, 06:50 pm
Lira I The leaders in the Lango sub-region on September 1, 2023, during a joint council meeting adopted the self-financing model in customary land registration, a move intended to mitigate the increasing land wrangles in the Lango.
The leaders observed that, in Lango sub-region, 80 per cent of the cases in court are land-related. They (leaders) have now resolved to adopt the self-financing model in customary land registration and will task the respective district councils to discuss the model and set minimum fees for customary land registration in their respective districts.
The joint council also resolved to prioritize and budget for land registration and initiate stakeholder awareness.
Kenneth Owor is the speaker of Alebtong district council. He chaired the joint council and challenged the various district councils to ratify the resolutions of the joint council as soon as possible.
“I want to appeal to the Ministry Lands, Housing and Urban Development to consider all the districts of Lango in the project for the registration of the customary land registration and later expand to other regions in the country,” Owor said.
At the same joint council session, the leaders resolved to end corruption related to land, they also agreed that courts must speed up land cases, and protect women and vulnerable persons in the sub-region, among others.
Patrick Eumu Kauma, workers’ district councillor who doubles as the secretary of finance for Amolatar district commended the self-financing model in customary land registration and said it will benefit many poor people.
“In Amolatar district, 4,000 people have acquired land registrations, We are grateful to the GIZ under the same arrangement of self-financing. This initiative is welcome.”
Geoffrey Alex, the LC5 chairperson of Kwania noted that through the self-financing model, the number of women and other vulnerable people owning land will increase if they are prioritized.
“The largest population in Uganda is of women which are about 52 per cent, and yet only 16 per cent of them have access to land, and only 7 per cent of the women have got certificates of registration and 43 per cent of the women are employed in agriculture. So we must give a large portion of land to women,” Alex insisted.
Lira district LC5 vice chairperson Bonny Omara said it is proper to allow the various districts to determine the amount of fees to be paid for getting a certificate of land registration due to the different situations surrounding the various districts.
The chairperson of the Lango Parliamentary Group (LPG) Judith Alyek noted that most vulnerable persons in Lango do not have adequate information about land – this she said is exposing them to exploitation.
“Owning land is a human right; the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda clearly says the land belongs to the people. We have to guard our land jealously,” she observed.
Kole district Woman MP Alyek read the message of the minister of Lands Housing, and Urban Development, Judith Nabakoba, who was expected to grace the occasion.
Nabakooba affirmed that illegal evictions and land grabbing are rampant across the country in communities where customary land has not been registered, adding that the people of Lango should embrace the idea of acquiring land titles.
“This land awareness like the previous ones is intended to help the government to solicit ideas, and views from the public,” reads her letter in par.
The district council was the climax of the 7th Annual Land Awareness Week (LAW 2023) under the theme: “Promoting land rights and inclusion for enhanced production and sustainable development.”
The concept of the self-financing model of customary land registration
The self-financing model in customary land registration was an initiative of the GIZ under the project ‘Responsible Land Policy in Uganda (RELAPU)’ funded by the German government under the German Federation Ministry of Economic Cooperation (BMZ) and Co-financed by the European Union (EU).
Samuel Eriaku, the senior advisor for Land Management at GIZ RELAPU Northern Uganda said the self-financing model is a model of land registration that relies on financing generated from landowners to facilitate activities of land registration by using government and community structures to implement.
He also said GIZ RELAPU came up with this initiative as a measure to respond to the overwhelming demand for customary land registration across Teso and Lango sub-regions.
“GIZ RELAPU piloted this model in Bululu sub-county and Kalaki district where it has worked well. Bululu was able to launch issuance of 27 CCOs facilitated by land owners in February this year, they have over 250 applications,” Eriaku said.
The findings of the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development during LAW 2023
The concept of National Land Awareness Week is an innovation of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) working on land rights.
One of the findings is that women have been generally denied their rights to land ownership. The worst treated are women whose marriages failed and therefore resettle at their parents’ homes.
The land wrangles arising out of succession disputes were recorded in all locations during land awareness week.
Testimonies from the vulnerable community in Land sub-region
Nancy Acio, a resident of Tetegu village, Tetegu parish in Akokoro sub-county, Apac district, pointed out that she has been battling a court case for the last 13 years, but even after winning the case, she has not got justice.
“Instead the land grabbers now want to kill me over land, I started from LC1, 2 and 3 courts, I won all, and they refused to vacate my land, I went to Apac grade one magistrate court, and the judgment was in my favour, I went to Lira High court again, I won the case, it is now two year they are still on my land,” she stated.
She also revealed that six households were supposed to be evicted, but they have continued to occupy her land and threaten her life.
From Alebtong district, a 60-year-old Lilly Elit from Abia sub-county, Atriko parish, Amot Oye village confessed that when she got married and had a failed marriage, her father brought her home.
Her father brought someone to take care of his cattle, the man stayed at home until her father died, she recalled. Lilly said when her father died, the man who was brought to keep cattle turned against them since they were all ladies for their father.
“I am worried, the man is now planning to kill us, I have reported the matter to some clan leaders, but it appears the clan leaders have been compromised,” she told TND News.
Rukia Asingo is a 74-year-old widow and mother of 12 children. She hails from Alebtong district. Asingo narrated that she left Alebtong during the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgence but when she went back after the war she found that her husband’s brother sold all their land.
“Our land was 12 acres, but I have my 8 children still surviving, I don’t know where my children will settle,” Asingo wondered.
Felix Ogwal, another resident of Akokoro said he had a land conflict that went up to court, Judgment was done and he was ordered to pay some money which he paid but still, the person is encroaching on his land.
“I have made payments, I have the receipt, but still the land grabber is encroaching on my land, we need the government to review the laws that must favour the poor,” Ogwal said.
Abdallah Hassan Byantalo, Land officer at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development advised the residents to first explore other alternatives for resolving land conflict before going to court of law.
Byantolo said that up to 80 per cent of the land is still customarily owned which can prove difficult for the court to prove ownership.
“It is very hard to prove before a court of law. That is the very reason we are here….begin by the traditional-cultural ways of resolving land disputes,” he advised.
Ronald Bagaga, the policy and research officer of ESAFF said, “The purpose of this is to get views of the small-scale farmers, women, and persons with disabilities who are most affected by the land issues so that we have pro-people land laws.”
He added that the land rights centre was created to help people access relevant information on management.
The position of the cultural institutions
Dickens Odong Wacio, the Minister of Lands, and Physical Planning under the Lango Cultural Foundation observed that the conflict in Lango is so much and it’s almost everywhere. “Every parish, every community but it starts from within the family members, within the community and including boundaries conflict.”
Waico also said the driving factors are the increasing population which puts pressure on land.
The population is increasing right from 1995 when they enacted the Constitution up to now the population has increased; you find a family that had only 10 people now has about 30 or 40 people, he noted.
“We want everybody to have equal rights over land, even women, children and persons with disability, including the unborn.”
The legal framework
According to Article 27 of the Land Act of 1998, any decision taken in respect of land held under customary tenure, whether in respect of land held individually or communally, shall be in accordance with the customs, traditions and practices of the community concerned, except that a decision which denies women or children or persons with disability access to ownership, occupation or use of any land or imposes conditions which violate articles 33, 34 and 35 of the Constitution on any ownership, occupation or use of any land shall be null and void.
Further, the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda of 1995 in Article 237 says, “Land in Uganda belongs to the citizens of Uganda and shall vest in them in accordance with the land tenure systems provided for in this Constitution…”