With an average of 213 inhabitants per km2, population density in Uganda is very high in comparison with other African countries. The population is growing by more than 3.3% per year. Land in Uganda is increasingly being fragmented due to inheritance rules. As a result, land ownership is being split up and competition between different user groups is on the rise. This situation is exacerbated both by the presence of more than 1.4 million refugees from neighbouring countries (as of March 2020) and by large-scale land investment by national and international investors. Against this backdrop of growing competition for dwindling land resources, fair and secure land rights are increasingly important. Uganda has created a favourable framework for reform of land law through a progressive constitution and land policy. The global project is working with local institutions to advance the granting of use and ownership certificates for smallholders as a basis for economic growth and food security.
Activities in Uganda
The project works in three fields of action:
- Activities in field 1 aim at improving the institutional framework and processes for ensuring land rights. This involves a systematic inventory of land which is the basis for applications for land ownership or use certificates.
- As part of field 2, civil society is strengthened in regard to responsible land policy and in its capacities to provide information to the population and conducting dialogues with the Government and the private sector. The aim is also that civil society cooperates with the project as an implementing partner.
- The aim of field of action 3 is to raise agricultural investors’ awareness of responsible land policy. The project is providing advisory services to familiarise investors with relevant international standards, such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT).
An example from the field
Less than 10% of all land plots in Uganda are formally registered. Rural populations are particularly likely to lack the documentation to protect their land rights. For this reason, traditional land ownership rights can often be established only with testimony from neighbours, village elders or clan representatives. Attaining land titles or land certificates is a lengthy and costly process and, for most of the rural population, simply not possible. The project Responsible Land Policy in Uganda is working in this area to ensure systematic documentation of the land rights of those living in rural areas. The first stage of the project involves informing the target population about its rights and its scope for protecting its land rights in the long term. One aspect is strengthening women’s rights since land rights are often passed down exclusively to male descendants. The second stage is to establish systematic land inventories at village level, surveying individual land plots digitally and collecting the necessary information concerning owners and users.
The resulting land inventory protocols (LIPs) include all necessary information on neighbours, clans and parcels of land. The documented testimonies of neighbours and clans play a decisive role in avoiding future land conflicts. The LIPs are an adapted and pragmatic minimum standard for securing land rights: the systematic approach markedly reduces the work and costs involved. The LIPs also function as security when holders apply for small loans. LIPs therefore not only improve the land rights situation of those involved but also facilitate their access to credit to enable them to invest in their land. This gives entire families a better future.
Responsible Land Policy in Uganda (RELAPU) is a project implemented by the German International Cooperation (GIZ) and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). BMZ created the Special Initiative “One World, No Hunger”, aimed to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty. Within this special initiative, RELAPU is part of the Global Programme on Responsible Land Policy presently implemented in eight countries.
Improvement of Land Governance in Uganda (ILGU) is a project implemented by the German International Cooperation (GIZ), seeking to increase productivity of small-scale farmers on private Mailo land in Central Uganda, co-financed by the European Union and German Government through the German Federal Ministry for
Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Land in Uganda is a delicate topic. About 80% of pending court cases in the country today are land related. One of Uganda’s tenure systems is the management of land according to customary tenure, especially in Northern Uganda, including the Teso sub-region. With its violent history, a rising population and increasing impact of climate change on agriculture productivity, land rights in Teso are contested to this day. Due to its violent history and socio-cultural changes, less than 1% of customary land is officially registered.
Mailo is a unique tenure system in central Uganda. It is divided into three parts: Kabaka’s Mailo, Official Mailo and Private Mailo. Private Mailo belongs to an individual, so-called landowner and it can be sold, subdivided or transmitted. Conflicts on private Mailo can occur between landowners & tenants, tenants & tenants, and landowners & landowners. A key challenge is that there is a lack of knowledge and transparency on land rights on both sides.
The German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) created the Special Initiative “One world, No hunger” aimed to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty. Special focus is on Action Area 6 “Promotion of responsible land use and improvement of access to land”. The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) has presently implemented the Global Programme on Responsible Land Policy in 6 countries: Peru, Laos, Benin, Madagascar, Ethiopia and Uganda.
Land in Uganda is a delicate resource that has caused many conflicts over the past years. About 80% of pending court cases in the country relate to land today. Looking at the country’s violent history, a rising population and increasing impact of climate change on agriculture productivity, land rights in Uganda are contested to this day. Land conflicts are either within communities, family structures or between individuals and external players such as investors.
With the current population of 40 million and 213 inhabitants per km², Uganda is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Yet land is a fixed asset. Of all the land in Uganda, approximately 80% of the land area is administered under customary tenure system and approximately 5% only is titled under Mailo, leasehold and freehold tenure. There is a high amount of tenure insecurity in major parts of the population, as the land legislation is not well−known among the rural smallholder farmers.
Uganda has been struggling to maintain a conventional (European-type) land administration system for a long time but has faced many challenges including lack of funding, inadequate skill force and long- winded procedures. Up to present, the country has only managed to record less than 20 per cent of the land rights. Similar circumstances can be found in many countries in the world. An often-cited estimate indicates that seventy percent of the world´s population is lacking security of tenure.
Mailo tenure is the most legislated form of tenure in Uganda, having its origins in the 1900 Buganda Agreement. Reforms over the years have seen the evolution of this tenure that is essentially freehold in nature, albeit with its local characteristics arising out of an unresolved tenant question. This status quo was reinstated in the 1995 Constitution, the Land Act and its subsequent amendments. Whereas it is expected that reforms introduced by the Constitution and Land Act would suffice in stabilizing Mailo tenure, this has not happened in practice.
The need to strengthen the capacity of CSOs, DLOs, ICU and partners working on land governance in Teso has become obvious if harmonisation of the customary and formal land management systems is to be realised. This is expected to enable a coordinated and systematic approach with one voice.
Knowledge of policies on land governance not only improves the way issues pertaining to land rights are handled; but also minimises waste of time and money lost on land conflict.
Teso Initiative for Peace (TIP) received funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) that has been delegated through Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) under a project titled “Responsible Land Policy in Uganda” (RELAPU). In its pursuit to reduce extreme poverty and hunger in the world under its Field of Action 6 i.e.