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Highlights from Land and Natural Resources Tenure Security Learning Initiative for Eastern and Southern Africa II



Tenure security plays a central role in driving rural transformation. It is a powerful means for enhancing the sustainability of development efforts and empowering rural people. Given the importance of tenure security, IFAD entered into a partnership with UN-Habitat, through the Global Land Tools Network (GLTN) in 2011 to implement the first phase of the Land and Natural Resources Tenure Security Learning Initiative for Eastern and Southern Africa (TSLI-ESA) initiative. The objective of TSLI-ESA I was to identify common issues and promote lesson sharing and knowledge management on land related tools and approaches amongst IFAD supported projects in selected East and Southern African (ESA) countries.

The second phase of TSLI-ESA, which started in 2013, aimed to strengthen security of tenure on land and natural resources through the integration of pro-poor tenure tools in IFAD supported projects and programmes within the ESA region. The projects objectives were to:

a) Improve knowledge and awareness of land and natural resource tenure issues and measures for strengthening the tenure security of poor women and men;
b) Strengthen capacity for development and implementation of tools (for in-country policy dialogue, country strategy development, project/programme design, implementation and evaluation) and;
c) Strengthen and scale up approaches and tools for securing land and natural resource tenure.

In places where IFAD works, especially in Africa, most rural land falls under customary tenure. Managing customary land can be challenging, as it is generally undocumented and perceived to be unclaimed, generating competing interests and claims which end up resulting in encroachment, grabbing and in some cases conflict. The management by public authorities of land, for which no official title can be presented by those living on it, can in some cases further increase tenure insecurity, leading to unilateral changes in the allocation of the land and discouraging dwellers of that land to invest on their main productive asset.

Under the project GLTN provided support in developing tools and providing training to IFAD supported projects. In total 217 participants from 39 IFAD-supported investment projects in 21 countries participated in various training and information sharing events. Two examples of IFAD supported projects that have integrated GLTN tools are the Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP) in Uganda and the  Smallholder Dairy Commercialisation Programme (SDCP) in Kenya.

Kenya – Smallholder Dairy Commercialization Programme (SDCP) – Nov 2013 • Credit: ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

TSLI-ESA in Kenya’s Smallholder Dairy Commercialisation Programme (SDCP) 
The goal of the project is to increase the incomes of poor rural households that depend substantially on the production and trade of dairy products for their livelihoods. The SDCP project was confronted with some key tenure challenges right from the beginning as there was encroachment of grazing lands and a deterioration in the state of communally shared resources. This provoked some rising tensions with regards to pasture and water resources, which also impacted the productivity of the dairy animals. As a response, GLTN in collaboration with partners conducted participatory mapping of communally shared resources ensuring that communities now have the means to protect their common resources from encroachment and ultimately promote their sustainable utilisation. The success of community mapping under TSLI-ESA in Kenya, has been captured in a video with an accompanying blog entry from GLTN.

TSLI-ESA in Uganda’s Vegetable Oil Development Project 
The project aims to increase the domestic production of vegetable oil and its by-products, thus raising rural incomes for smallholder producers and ensuring the supply of affordable vegetable oil products to Ugandan consumers. With regard to tenure security, the oil palm component has faced particular challenges where land was acquired for nucleus estate for a private sector investor and where there has been large-scale conversion of land use. The project in collaboration with GLTN developed and supported “famer-driven enumeration” (FDE) in Kalangala District, Uganda, where the GLTN’s Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) is being used to upgrade the database system for farmers being used by the Kalangala Oil Palm Growers Trust (KOPGT). For further information and a video showcasing the success of farmers’ driven participatory mapping with STDM in Kalangala, Uganda, here is a blog entry from GLTN.


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Complaint against unprofessional conduct of the DPC Kiryandongo district for aiding and abetting land grabbing in kiryandongo district.



The Commandant,

Professional Standards Unit, Uganda Police-Kampala.

Dear Sir/Madam;


We act for and behalf of the Lawful and bonafide occupants of Land described as LRV MAS 2 FOLIO 8 BLOCK 8 PLOT 22 (FORMERLY KNOWN AS RANCH 22).

Our Clients are residents of Nyamutende Village, Kitwara Parish in Kiryandongo District where they have lived for more than 30 years and sometime in 2017, they applied for a lease of the said Land to Kiryandongo District Land Board through the Directorate of Land Matters State House.

As they were still awaiting their Application to be processed, they were shocked to establish that the said land had been instead leased to and registered in the names of Isingoma Julius, Mwesige Simon, John Musokota William, Tumusiime Gerald, Wabwire Messener Gabriel, Ocema Richard and Wilson Shikhama, some of whom were not known to the Complainants. A copy of the Search is attached hereto

Our clients protested the above action and appealed to relevant offices, but were shocked to discover that the above persons had gone ahead and sold the same to a one Maseruka Robert.

Aggrieved by these actions, the Complainants appealed to the RDC who advised them to institute proceedings against the said persons, and assigned them a one Mbabazi Samuel to assist them to that effect. The said Mbabazi accordingly filed Civil Suit Noa 46 of 2019 against tne said registered proprietors at Masindi High Court challenging the illegal and fraudulent registration, sale and transfer of the subject land to Maseruka Robert.

While awaiting the progress of the case mentioned hereinabove, the Complainants were surprised to find that the said Mbabazi, instead of assisting them, he went into a consent settling the said suit on their behalf without their knowledge or consent. A copy of the Consent is attached hereto.

Among the terms of the said consent Judgment was that the residents would be compensated without specifying how much and would in return vacate the Land.

As if that was not enough, Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel are going ahead to execute the said Consent Judgment by forcefully evicting the occupants without compensation which has prompted the complainants to challenge the said Consent by applying for its review and setting aside at Masindi High Court which is coming up for hearing on the 29th March 2023. A copy of the Application is attached hereto.

Sensing the imminent threat of eviction, we also filed an application for interim stay of execution of the said consent to avoid rendering their application for review nugatory but unfortunately the same could not be heard on the date it was fixed for hearing (6th February 2023). A copy of the Application is attached hereto

On Thursday last week, three tractors being operated by 6 workers of a one Mbabazi Samuel [the very person who had been entrusted to represent our Clients to secure their Land through Civil Suit No.46 of 2019] encroached close to 50 acres of our Clients’ land and started ploughing it but our Client’s protested and chased them away.

We have however been shocked to receive information from our Clients that on Sunday at Mid night, 3 police patrols invaded the community in the night and arrested community members; Mulenje Jack, Steven Kagyenji, Mulekwa David, Ntambala Geoffrey, Tumukunde Isaac 15 years, Kanunu Innocent, Mukombozi Frank, Kuzara, Rwamunyankole Enock, and took them to Kiryandongo Police Station where they are currently detained.

We strongly protest the illegal arrests and detention of our Clients as this is a carefully orchestrated land grabbing scheme by Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel who are  receiving support from the DPC Kiryandongo.

The purpose of this Letter therefore is to request your good office to investigate the misconduct, abuse of office and unprofessionalism of the said DPC Kiryandongo District and all his involvement in the land grabbing schemes on land formerly known as Ranch 22.

Looking forward to your urgent intervention,

C.C The Head Police Land Protection Unit Police Head Quarters Naguru

CC The RDC Kiryandongo District

CC The Chairman LCVKityadongo District

CC The Regional Police CommanderAlbertine Region

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The Executive Director of Witness Radio Uganda talks about the role played by Witness Radio in protecting communities affected by large-scale agribusinesses in Kiryandongo district in an interview with the ILC.



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Witness Radio Uganda wins the best CSO land rights defenders award at the National Land Forum Awards.



By Witness Radio Team

Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog, Witness Radio has been awarded the best CSO land rights defender award 2022 in the recently concluded National Land Forum Awards held last week at Mestil hotel in Kampala.

Witness Radio’s executive Director, Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala attributed the award to the community land and environmental rights defenders who stand up against the intimidation and different forms of harassment from land grabbers (economically powerful and politically connected companies and individual investors).

“This is an award for defenders at a community level. They work in very deadly environments filled with harassment, torture, death threats, arrest, trumped-up charges, and kidnaps among others to advocate for community land and environment rights. This is happening at a spate where criminalization and silencing of  community land rights defenders are at increase.” Jeff added.

The award has come at a time when hundreds of Ugandans in different parts of the country are accessing services provided by the organization ranging from legal service provisions, non-judicial mechanism engagements, empowerment to help them understand their rights, and using the same knowledge to use the same skills to push back against illegal and forced evictions

The chairman of the organizing committee of the second National Land Forum, Mr. Jimmy Ochom noted some progress on legislation in Uganda’s land Governance. He cited growing inequalities on land where the poor are more vulnerable.

During awards, the state minister for housing, Hon persis Namuganza revealed that the government approved the plan for 2018-2040 that maps the land use in the country.

According to the minister, the government had identified land for settlement, game reserves, wildlife, arable land for farming, and water bodies among others in the plan which she said was passed a few weeks ago.

The event was organized by Oxfam and partners and provided a platform for discussions by the different actors in the land sector on issues around land governance, including land rights, land administration, and land governance for improved collaboration, cooperation between the actors, and improved land service delivery for Ugandans under a theme “Taking stock of the National Land Policy in addressing Land inequality in addressing Land inequality in Uganda.”

Other categories of awards that were won by different organizations and individuals including Mr. Eddie Nsamba-Gayiiya for his contribution to research on land rights, Justice Centers Uganda for Promoting Access to Land Justice, and Mr. Henry Harrison Irumba for Championing Legal Reforms among others.

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