UGANDA, Kabale | Real Muloodi News | Land conflicts are a common occurrence in many areas of Uganda, but particularly so with customary tenure. Customary tenure systems regulate 75 per cent of the total land in Uganda, and is the most common form of tenure in the country.
Under the Land Act, a person, family or community holding land under customary tenure may acquire a certificate of customary ownership for their land, but has no obligation to do so. This being the case, the majority of customary land owners have no documentation to substantiate their ownership.
This has recently changed for over a thousand overjoyed families in the western region. Of the estimated 3,600 families in Rubaya sub-counties, Kamuganguzi, Buhari, Kitumba, and Ryakarimiira in Kabale district, one thousand three hundred ninety (1,391) lucky families received free customary land titles from the government.
In collaboration with the government of Uganda, the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) and Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) distributed free land titles to residents who applied for them during a project from 2018 to 2019.
The project received funding from the United Nations–Habitat and the Embassy of the Netherlands.
According to Alex Muhumuza, the team leader of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) in charge of the Southwest and Elgon region, the ministry of lands, in collaboration with the United Nations and the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), launched a free surveying and demarcation campaign for willing landowners in the area in 2018.
“The beneficiaries have received Customary Land titles and are issued with certificates as one strategy of increasing access to land and tenure security for all. Those who applied paid 10,000 Ugandan shillings to the sub-county, but the money remained at the sub-county since we facilitated each and everything,” Alex Muhumuza explained.
He said that the free customary land titles given to residents clarify the locality by indicating details such as the land dimensions, the process date of the title and witnesses present at the time measurements of the land occurred.
According to Pamela Nyamutoka, the IIRR country director, families getting free land titles has helped women to have a right to land ownership, because of the many cases where land is sold without their consent. She also warned the recipients not to give their titles to moneylenders when borrowing money or they will lose their land.
“The primary intention is to ensure that everyone has the security of his land from land grabbers. We also aim to enable owners to have collateral to ease borrowing money from financial institutions. It also gives the owner a sense of self-sufficiency and independence, allowing them to bequeath their property as they wish easily,” Pamela Nyamutoka stated.
The handover of land titles to beneficiaries was supposed to take place in 2020. However, it occurred later because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guest of honour at the handover ceremony, Kabale district vice chairperson Miria Akankwasa Tugume, appreciated the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) for its efforts towards this project and asked the families to keep their titles safely.
She also urged the funders to expand the exercise to the entire district and countrywide so that everyone could benefit, as she hoped that the land titles would help resolve and reduce land disputes.
Kabale district is one of the districts in Uganda, like the Butaleja and Adumani districts that have received over 1300 customary land titles.
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