UGANDA: GULU UNIVERSITY UNVEILS POLICY BRIEFS ON ‘TRUST’ LAND

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Professor George Openjuru-Ladah, the in-coming Vice- Chancellor of Gulu University, speaking on need for research.

“Gulu University has its role in doing research. If you have a problem affecting the community, then do participatory research”

“What will happen if every land is sold? Do we have to go to live in open space in towns because we have nowhere to stay? We are caught up in a transition era where we are moving away from communal to individual ownership of land. We need more studies to guide this transition”

GULU-UGANDA: The Deputy Vice Chancellor and also in-coming Vice Chancellor of Gulu University, Professor George Openjuru-Ladah has said the University’s Institute of Peace & Strategic Studies (IPSS) has a role to play in doing ‘participatory research’ on problems that are affecting communities in northern Uganda.

Openjuru-Ladah says through research, solutions to problems which are affecting communities can be found.

“Gulu University has its role in doing research. If you have a problem affecting the community, then do participatory research”, observes Prof. Openjuru-Ladah.

He made these comments on Thursday, December 14, 2017, while closing a one-day workshop for the dissemination of six policy briefs research reports on land issues titled ‘Trust Land Policy Briefs’.

The researches were jointly conducted by the University’s IPSS and the Department of Anthropology-University of Copenhagen conducted in northern Uganda and the Ik community of Karamoja sub-region between 2013 and 2017.

Professor Openjuru-Ladah observed that northern Uganda is confronted with land sales in rural areas for the first time in the history of the region where young boys steal customary land to buy motorcycle taxis in order to make quick money for reckless living. He says some of the youths are claiming land given by their forefathers to institutions like schools, churches and administrative headquarters.

“What will happen if every land is sold? Do we have to go to live in open spaces in towns because we have nowhere to stay? We are caught up in a transition era where we are moving away from communal to individual ownership of land. We need more studies to guide this transition”, says Professor Openjuru-Ladah.

The first policy brief presents findings on ‘Legal Pluralism in Land Dispute Management in Amuru, Pader and Agago districts between 2016 and 2017 where over twenty land disputes were monitored.

“Twenty years of armed conflict in northern Uganda ended formally in 2006, but the emergence and rapid escalation of land conflicts hastened hope for a peaceful return in post-war northern Uganda. These disputes continues, a decade after resettlement. These disputes are occurring in the context of a plural legal environment, where more than one institution is involved in land management”, reads part of the brief.

The second policy brief titled: “Women and Land in Acholi Sub-region: Safeguarding Rights, Promoting Access” highlights social relations between different categories of people including men, women, youth and elders who are fraught with tensions and contradictions over land matters.

“Land is the most emotive, culturally sensitive, politically volatile and economically central issue in Uganda. In northern Uganda, ninety-three per cent of land is under customary tenure and is currently marred by conflicts and social tensions”, reads part of the second brief.

The third policy brief deals with youth, livelihood and access to land in northern Uganda where a whole generation of youth has grown up in concentration camps, commonly referred to as “internally displaced persons (IDP) camps amidst poverty and insecurity without sufficient access to education and reliable services.

“Scholarly and popular attention has been focused mainly on urban youth and unemployment. There is less appreciation of the situation of rural youth and their access to land-even though the majority of young people live in rural areas and engaged in agriculture”, the third report concludes.

The forth policy brief deals with ‘Institutional Land Conflicts’ where private and public institutions such as churches, health centers, schools and local governments are facing claims on the land they occupy.

The land holding is most often not registered as the land was given as entrustment or it was a public land that belonged to the state until the Constitution of 1995.

“Evictions should not be done in haste. People should be oriented in good time about institutional plans for development and possible benefits to the community”, part of the forth policy brief recommends.

The fifth policy brief deals with ‘Conflict over Protected Areas for Wildlife Conservation in Northern Uganda’ which revealed that in Purongo, which borders Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP), local people hardly value wildlife protection due to their own negative experience.

“The neighbors of MFNP and other protected areas for wildlife conservation suffer from crop raids of wild animals and particularly hungry elephants, which cross the park border and sometimes destroy the harvest of a year in a few hours, damage huts and granaries where stocks are kept, and attack, injure and even kill people”, says part of the fifth brief.

The sixth policy brief was conducted in Ik county of Karamoja sub-region which identified three land related issues affecting the Ik community since they are entirely dependent on the land and natural resources. These issues are in-migration and transgression by pastoralists and their herds, tensions between National forestry authority (NFA) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and investments in land by foreigners with unknown development plans.

“The Ik community, which counts around 6,000, are semi-nomadic subsistence agriculturalists and hunters-gatherers living in mountains between cattle herder groups: Turkana (Kenya) and Dodoth (Uganda), have  ambivalent relations to both groups as they sometimes plunder Ik villages, while at other times the groups trade and develop ties of friendship and trust” says part of the brief.

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