UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | In 2015, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, through NGOs, embarked on an ambitious project to register customary land throughout the whole of Uganda, and to provide the rightful owners with Certificates of Customary Ownership. The process of free land registration started with Kasese District. However, six years have since passed, and progress has been slow.
According to the Ministry, the country’s slow registration of customary land is due to the distrust the public has for the government.
Mr Denis Obbo, the spokesperson in the Ministry of Lands, revealed that the government views registration and certification as a means to reduce land conflicts; in contrast, people instead see it as a ploy to grab their resources.
Mr Obbo said that due to the mistrust, the government is dealing with the public indirectly through civil society organisations.
“The partnerships with NGOs help us because the population believes more in them. We got into partnerships with the NGOs where they are supposed to go to communities and sensitise them using information issued by the government,” Mr Obbo added.
However, according to the executive director of the Uganda Community Based Association for Women and Children Welfare (UCOBAC), Ms Frances Birungi Odong, the registration uptake has remained low.
In early 2018, UCOBAC embarked on a land awareness and registration programme in Pader and Butaleja Districts.
“While rallying people in Pader District, people wanted to register but many shied away due to politics and uncertainty that the exercise was a ploy to grab their land from them,” Ms Birungi said.
This year 2021, at Pader Sub-county headquarters, the ministry, through UCOBAC, issued over 960 certificates of customary ownership to landowners in the district.
The beneficiaries are part of the 3,000 customary landowners who got free registration and issuance of customary land titles in Pader.
According to the statistics by the Lands ministry, at least 80 per cent of land in Uganda is under customary tenure.
According to the Pader Sub-county land committee chairperson, Mr Federicko Ongwec, before UCOBAC visited Pader, there was too much violence, physical fights and disagreements among communities over land.
“… but since the communities embraced land registration, calm is slowly returning in these areas,” Mr Ongwec added.
According to the district chairperson, Mr Fearless Obwoya, the certification exercise had significantly reduced the rate of land struggles in the mapped areas.
“Where the certificates have been issued, the law enforcement agencies have testified that the land conflicts have reduced and people are now concentrating on production,” Obwoya said.
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