Located in East-Central Africa, west of Kenya, Uganda is home to an ethnically and religiously diverse population, along with significant natural resources, including fertile soils, forests, minerals, and recently discovered oil.
Land and property rights have been subject to a series of reforms since 1995, including in the Constitution (1995) which grants “every person …a right to own property either individually or in association with others.” Another notable milestone was the 1998 Land Act, which strongly supports women’s land rights; decentralizes land administration; and establishes land tribunals for the resolution of land-related disputes. Finally, the 2013 National Land Policy, adopted after more than a decade of consultation and debate, aims to “ensure efficient, equitable and optimal utilization and management of Uganda’s land resources for poverty reduction, wealth creation and overall socio-economic development.”
The ownership and management of forest and mineral resources is an area of increasing concern. According to government estimates, forests account for 24% of Uganda’s land (4.9 million hectares). About 30% of forests are in protected areas and parks, while 70% percent of forests are on private land. Meanwhile, a constitutional amendment (2005) vested all control of minerals and petroleum in the government.
Some of the main land-related issues in Uganda include: inequitable distribution and control of productive land; discrimination against women’s land rights under customary tenure regimes; land grabs; greater transparency in land deals and land markets; land conflicts; and the need to strengthen land institutions.