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Corruption among area land committees escalating land wrangles in Acholi, Lango and Buganda

(Last Updated On: 19 September 2023)

Northern | The rampant land wrangles in the Acholi, Lango and Buganda sub-regions have been attributed to the corruption among the area land committees and some security operatives in the various districts.

This was revealed during a webinar organised by the Eastern and Southern African Farmers Forum (EASFF) on September 19, 2023.

Vianney Nowembabzi, the chairperson of ESAFF from Mubende district said area land committees have been conniving with investors who are rich to grab land from the poor.  

“Interference from security organs and the high rate of corruption in the area has been a stumbling block especially when the land conflict involves rich investors, our poor small-scale farmers are defrauded by the security and area land committees who are manipulated by the rich investors,” Nowembabzi said.

He added that there are government policies in place, but observed that they are not being implemented and yet most farmers are ignorant, and most of them, he noted, fear going to offices to access information.

Christine Okot, chairperson of ESAFF Gulu noted that, in Acholi, most of the land conflicts are among siblings, communities and clan members.

Also read: Nightmare in Northern Uganda as rot and loss affect farmers after harvest

“The area land committees are in place, but when you don’t have money they will not help a lot, that is why our people still cherish the clan leaders if the wrangle is among siblings and the community, but when it is on the boundary, that is when they take it to court,” Okot noted.

She added, “Our women are not quite aware of their rights, their husbands only have user rights, we are encouraging the women in Acholi sub-region to buy their land if they can afford”

Christine Nabwami, a small-scale farmer from Mukono noted that small-scale farmers from Mukono suffer because there has not been proper documentation of land.

“It is very hard to get a document for your land in Mukono because of the process involved and the money demanded to do the registration,” she said.

Nabwami noted that there is a lot of corruption by the area land committees and the landlords try to defraud their tenants by reselling land to bigger investors. 

Also read: Lango to adopt self-financing model in customary land registration

The male representative of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Kwania district Benson Okello said, “It has become difficult for persons with disabilities due to the money needed to do land registration.

“We are disadvantaged because even the constitution and other land policies do not give any provision for persons with disabilities to be in the area land committee, not even at the district land board,” Okello added.

Lydia Mugisha, from Kisoro district, said for them in Kisoro, the burden is mostly felt by women who are widows and whose lands are grabbed. But when they go to the lawyers, they are charged exorbitant fees which they cannot afford.

Edward Habiyaremyi, the local council three (LC3) chairperson of Madudu sub-county in Mubende district acknowledged that land wrangles have been so high, adding “We have tried to resolve them through different stakeholders”.

“We have empowered the area land committees to conduct sensitisation, especially in areas where land wrangles are rampant, through Information sharing.

“The area land committee is conducting mediations to resolve the land wrangles. We are also encouraging the area land committees to be very transparent in order to get the trust of the people,” he said. 

ESAFF Uganda has established the Land Right Support Centre to address some of the issues and challenges, and ESAFF thought of continuity in the discussion on land rights, Bagaga Ronald, the research and policy officer of ESAFF said.

He added that ESAFF is promoting land rights for inclusive and sustainable development, adding that they are planning to provide pro-bono services to small-scale farmers and landlords.

Richard Asimwe, a land officer from the Ministry of Land Housing and Urban Development said it is important for farmers to secure their land to ensure it is put to better use. 

Asimwe said although the Ministry does not have funding to do the systematic land registration, through partners they have acquired 80,000 customary land certificates in a few selected districts.

National land policy was passed to address some of the challenges encountered by landlords and tenants

“We are in the process of reviewing the national land policy which is intended to address the issues of absentee landlords, the corruption by area land committees,” he stated. 

Background

According to a report published by Margarete Lugadya in 2016, 32.1% of the land wrangles in Uganda are due to boundary, 18.8% are due to inheritance and succession wrangles, and 15.5% are illegal land occupation.

 12.3% among others, while according to the World Bank report of 2019, out of the 78% of the landlords, only 3.3% can access critical information on land rights.

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