ILC Award Winner Obtains Commitments From Ugandan Government
The Uganda Land Alliance, who won the ILC Award for their work in Karamoja, obtains the commitment from the Ugandan Ministry of Land that it will advance the recognition of Community Land Associations.
Entebbe - The Ugandan Constitution, Land Law and Land Policy all recognise the existence of community lands in Uganda. The Land Policy also includes provisions for the creation of Community Land Associations. Once formalised, a Community Land Association is recognised as the sole owner of the communal lands it controls. In fact, a community land title gives rights to the community that are similar to the rights a freehold title gives to an individual land owner. Unfortunately, the provisions of the Uganda Land Policy for communal lands are barely applied.
The Uganda Land Alliance is active in many regions of Uganda, including in Karamoja, the poorest of all. An estimated 80% of Karamoja’s 27,000 km2 are communally held, in a customary manner, by pastoralist Karamojong communities. Recovering from a civil war, these pastoralists are now facing a massive influx of speculators and investors in search of precious minerals, marble or oil. While they often hold licences for exploration or exploitation, they conduct their activities in disregard of the communities that use the land as pastures. The Uganda Land Alliances assists the communities in setting up Community Land Associations, which allows the communities to negotiate with the state and the investors. It won the 2015 ILC Award for this pioneering work.
At the time of writing, the Uganda Land Alliance has created 52 Community Land Associations in Karamoja. Many of them are functioning and already negotiating with investors, but none of them hav been formally recognised by the district governments. This is not a surprise, as the Karamoja region can count with only one land office and not one single land registrar. 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.
Thanks to the ILC Africa Assembly of Members, held in Entebbe, the Communal Land Associations received much attention from national and international actors. The Karamoja case was the subject of a half-day round table that saw the participation of high-level officials. Mr Robert Opio, acting commissioner for Land Use Regulation and Compliance in the Ministry of Land, admitted the need to advance the recognition of the Communal Land Associations in order to provide security to these communities, whose livelihood is based on the use of communal lands. Concretely, the government promised to detach land registrars from the capital to Karamoja. Mapping and registration of communal land should start soon, with support from the World Bank.
ILC will continue to liaise with the Uganda Land Alliance, the World Bank and the Government of Uganda to make of Karamoja a real example of good communal land governance.