The Uganda National Land Policy (NLP) Implementation Action Plan is a deliberate resolution by the Government of Uganda to address major challenges that have hindered the implementation of land reforms, thereby impeding the optimal utilisation of land for socio-economic development and transformation. Although successive post-independence governments have made numerous efforts to streamline land governance and reconfigure the role of land in national development, the majority of these efforts have failed to address underlying issues and have thus remained unimplemented to date.
Compulsory acquisition is the power of government to acquire private rights in land for a public purpose, without the willing consent of its owner or occupant. This power is known by a variety of names depending on a country’s legal traditions, including eminent domain, expropriation, takings and compulsory purchase.
Access to land is at the heart of rural livelihoods. In sub-Saharan Africa, the pace and scale at which land is changing hands are increasing fast. Understanding these changes in land access is crucial if the systems of land governance, the practices of companies and organisations, and the initiatives seeking to influence rural development, are to adapt and have a positive impact.
The constitution and enabling legislation in Uganda, as in many other countries, empower the government to acquire land in the public interest. Under Ugandan law a person whose land is identified for a public purpose must be compensated fairly, promptly, and prior to the acquisition of the property.
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.
Property rights economically empower women by creating opportunities for earning income, securing their place in the community and ensuring their livelihoods. When women are economically empowered, it spurs development for their families and communities. Property Rights and Gender in Uganda: A Training Toolkit seeks to strengthen understanding of property rights for women and men as equal citizens.
A constitutional amendment bill has been tabled before Parliament with the primary aim of overhauling the Constitutional Right to Protection from deprivation of property (Article 26).
This guide has been written as an information resource for government officials, community leaders, humanitarian aid workers, judges, lawyers and others whose responsibilities include upholding land and property rights in Uganda. It outlines the main provisions of Uganda’s constitutional and legal framework and the protection these provide to property rights. It briefly outlines the historical background to existing land tenure relations, describes the constitutional provisions relating to land in the 1995 Constitution and sets out the main provisions of the Land Act 1998.