In 2008 the Ministry of Justice of Uganda commissioned the most comprehensive survey of land disputes country-wide up to date. The survey showed that in 20 districts, land disputes ranked the highest among conflicts and they usually become the cause of other conflicts such as family and domestic violence, assault and murder. The survey pointed out a lapse in land tenure administration and management, especially with regards to boundaries, land ownership, land transmission, occupation, trespass and fraudulent transactions.
Today, eight years after the publication of the Ministry of Justice’s survey, the land situation in several parts of the country has not seen much improvement.
“Most of our institutions they have not titled their land. People don’t care about protecting their land. (…) One morning people get there and took off (sic) about 10 acres of land,” explained Robert Wandwasi, Community Development Officer for the Mbale district.
Wandwasi was referring to the recent case of Nabumali High School, an institution that has been present in Mbale since 1912, and is now the victim of land grabbing by the community. The land where the school stands was given for free to the Church Missionary Society and the school never registered it.
Nabumali High School is just one example of the land conflicts the district of Mbale is currently facing.
Members of the Center for Conflict Resolution and Saferworld, both peace-building organizations, are currently implementing the one-year project “Integrating conflict sensitivity in land governance for conflict prevention and resolution.” As part of this project they met with government representatives, lawyers and urban practitioners to raise awareness of the most common land frauds and problems people face regarding land ownership.
The group identified 11 most common fraudulent activities in the district:
- Multiple sale of land
- Dual titling
- Unlawful sellers
- Incomplete sales
- Selling of non-existent land
- Intentional breach of contract
- Land grabbing
- Forgery of land documents
- Tampering/shifting of boundaries
Both CECORE and Saferworld are part of the six organizations authors of an International Resource Pack on Conflict Sensitivity Approaches to Development and Humanitarian Assistance and Peace building. Aimed at urban practitioners and government officials about conflict sensitive approaches to land disputes.
For more information about Saferworld, you can check out their website at: http://www.saferworld.org.uk/ and for more information more about the activities run by the Center for Conflict Resolution: http://cecore.or.ug/