A Common Right in Uganda

The Karamoja are a traditional agro-pastoralist community.

Their land is the life source of their communities.

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A view of the village from afar

Uganda Land Alliance and the Karamojong

To protect communities like the Karamojong against land grabbing and to ensure faire compensation for investments, ILC member,

the Uganda Land Alliance has helped set up communal land associations in over 52 communities.

Photos: Jason Taylor/ILC

Members of the village out with their herd.

This is the first time the existing land law was used to protect communal land rights in Uganda.

How can traditional communities protect themselves from land grabbing?

By using the law.

"we survive off this land through livestock and agriculture"

Ochwee Zakaria, village head

A Karamojong woman tends to a communal plot of land.

A family affair

An estimated 80% of Karamoja’s 27,000 km2 are communally held by pastoralist Karamojong communities.

By using traditional rules and systems of land management, they are able to respect everyone in the community and ensure that all can benefit from the fruits of their labour.

Young members of the village grinding

"That is how we manage our land and how we manage it for our future generations."

- Ochwee Zakaria

Next generation of herders

"New generations have discovered that their land is rich in minerals, including gold."

- Ochwee Zakaria

But they're not the only ones...

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Recovering from a civil war, the Karamoja are now facing a massive influx of investors in search of precious minerals, marble or oil. While they often hold licences for exploration or exploitation from the capital, they conduct their activities in disregard of the communities that use the land as pastures. 

"Investors have made so much money from our land while we have received nothing."

- Ochwee Zakaria, village head

"Uganda is rich enough in minerals that we can get out of poverty, if the land is sustainably utilised and legal frameworks are followed"

- Geoffrey Onying, Uganda Land Alliance

Yet despite Uganda Land Alliance's support in creating the Community Land Associations, many of which are functioning and already negotiating with investors, none of them have been formally recognised by the district governments.

As long as there is no formal mapping and registration of the communal lands claimed by the Community Land Association, the communal land titles cannot be issued and the Community Land Associations cannot be recognised.

During the 2015 Global Land Forum's 20 years celebration, the Uganda Land Alliance was announced the recipient of the 2015 ILC Award for their outstanding contribution towards ILC's 9th commitment  "effective actions against land grabbing".  

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