The ways in which people obtain land in Uganda are changing fast. Land that used to be secured through inheritance, gifts or proof of long-term occupancy is now more commonly changing hands in the market. Those with wealth and powerful connections are frequently able to override local rules and gain access to land at the expense of poorer individuals. Government-backed agribusiness investors receive large areas of land with benefits for some local farmers who are able to participate in the schemes, while other smallholders see their land access and livelihoods degraded.
The protection given to the land rights of women, orphans and any other vulnerable groups in Northern and Eastern Uganda is probably as good as can be found anywhere in the world. Customary land law is based on three main principles. First, everyone is entitled to land, and no-one can ever be denied land rights. A second principle is that all inherited land is family land, never individual property.
Over 80% of all land in Uganda is held under unregistered ‘customary tenure’. This means that it is private property, but the owners need no documents to prove ownership. Their claims to the land, and the boundaries of the land, are locally recognised, and this recognition is given the full protection of State law.
This research forms part of a larger study on large-scale land acquisition in Uganda. There are three main components of this study: (1) a “risk map” that identifies areas “at risk” for land acquisition due to their high suitability for biofuel crop production; (2) a due diligence report on the existing land uses and users of land identified as “at risk” in the first activity; and (3) an assessment of the land acquisition process, including applicable social and environmental safeguards.
Land is a natural resource that is limited and finite but with immense commercial (as an asset and factor of production), social-cultural, spiritual and aesthetic value. On the other hand, a family particularly in the context of Uganda is a fluid social construct deriving its strict definition from a particular social-cultural context. Land and family conflicts have been shown by various studies 1 to be the most prevalent form of livelihoods disruption to many households’ and individuals.
Tenure in Mystery collates information on land under conservation, forestry and mining in the Karamoja region. Whereas significant changes in the status of land tenure took place with the Parliamentary approval for degazettement of approximately 54% of the land area under wildlife conservation in 2002, little else happened to deliver this update to the beneficiary communities in the region. Instead enclaves of information emerged within the elite and political leadership, by means of which personal interests and rewards were being secured and protected.
London-based New Forests Company (NFC) would seem to be the design blueprint of how a young modern company should conduct a major land investment in Africa in a responsible way. Oxfam’s investigations reveal that serious allegations by people who were evicted from land to make way for NFC’s operations remain unresolved. How will the company respond?
Conflict associated with land has increased substantially following the return of peace to the Acholi Region with the return of internally displaced people (IDP), population growth, and increases in the value of land. The area is heavily dependent on agriculture and conflict related to land access seriously threatens to undermine development and the social, political and economic stability of the Acholi Region. This study involved community members, key informants, and statutory and traditional leaders in three sub counties in each of the seven Acholi districts.
Northern Uganda is the scene of one of the world’s most volatile and spontaneous processes of reintegration. There are approximately 1.1 to 1.4 million people in the Acholi sub-region at the time of writing3 ; 295,000 internally-displaced persons (IDPs) remain displaced either in IDP camps or transit sites. Approximately 800,000 Acholis have already left the camps and spontaneously returned home over the last three years.