Connect with us


Land Grabbing: The Tale Of 600 Families On The Brink Of Eviction Off 2-Square Miles By Three Claimants Waving Different Land Titles



By team
Muwereza Mugabi owns a kibanja (plot) on the bigger tract of land comprising 2-square miles situated on Block 168 plot 19, 22, 23 covering two villages; Kawula and Kambuye, Kansera ward, East Division Mubende Municipality in Mubende District.
For 38 years, this plot has provided Mugabi and his family with shelter, maize, coffee, bananas, and beans, “everything we can eat.” Mugabi said that even his neighbors use the land to graze their domestic animals that are grass-fed.
The plot of land provides his daily subsistence, and farming is the only job he has ever known.
There is nowhere else Mugabi would go, nothing else he can do for survival, than “living here foreverwith my family,” until his last days on earth.
But Mugabi has got a problem: Mugabi is among the tens of thousands of subsistence farmers in Mubende district who are either threatened by eviction or evicted daily. Mugabis says that he acquired the land in 1970 when he purchased from E.B Kayiwa and he is a title holder.
And now, three other people; only identified as Waswa, Nabukeera, and Nyanzi seek not only his plot, but the entire 2-square mile tract of land. They all claim to own titles to the disputed land.
It’s a familiar story in Mubende district, where land disputes have disrupted lives and livelihoods of thousands of people. Many of the affected are the small-scale farmers who grow their own food.
“Without land, we cannot have means to provide ourselves with the basic requirements for a decent life,” a visibly distressed Mugabi said.
Many land feuds in Mubende district begin on paper, but lead to physical fights and at various occasions, the worst have ended in deaths.
Begin on paper, because officers at lands offices in Mubende district issue multi titles on the same piece of land.
“I thought, the land, I live on belonged to E.B Kayiwa who is still alive, but here we are- all these people are claiming it with various titles. I wonder how the District Land Board could issue four titles on the same land,” wondered Mugabi.
One of the landlords has ordered all residents to vacate his land with immediate effect or face forceful eviction because he wants to use land for his own production.
Villagers in Mubende, often protest against forced evictions, but they eventually fail when faced with armed police personnel or soldiers.
“All we have are sticks and pangas, but the police who in most cases side with land grabbers have guns,” said Antonio Ssemakula, another farmer who is facing eviction.
Like Mugabi, Ssemakula purchased his plot on the same land from E.B Kayiwa in 1995 and he has settled peacefully on the disputed land until recently when claimants emerged to disrupts his and fellow residents’ lives.
What is most outstanding these days is that all rich people seeking to evict people from their land in Mubende district use cattle which they graze into the already struggling poor people’s gardens-and within few minutes, the gardens are no more.
This trend has exposed these people to extreme hunger because they are being left with nothing like crops that would provide them with food to feed themselves.
At the time of writing this story, the affected persons could hardly do any kind of farming, because wealthy men would unleash their cattle into their gardens to destroy them.
“We are still afraid of working,” Mugabi said. Villagers are already hungry and as it is, the villagers eat only twice a day, “morning and evening,” Mugabi says.
“For the midday, we don’t eat because I don’t have enough food.” In the aftermath of the richer man’s cows destroying of their gardens, often, a piece of maize and cup of dry tea constitutes a meal for most of the residents in these two villages.
Mugabi wonders why wealthy men want their land, but more hurt by the “inability” by their leaders to come to their rescue.
Often, local leaders and security personnel like police, army officers, and other officials in the various government offices side with land grabbers to evict farmers from their land and forcibly.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Breaking: Witness Radio and Partners to Launch Human Rights Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy Project Tomorrow.



By Witness Radio Team.

Witness Radio, in collaboration with Dan Church Aid (DCA) and the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD), is set to launch the Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy for Human Rights in Uganda (MDA-HRU) project tomorrow, 22nd February 2024, at Kabalega Resort Hotel in Hoima District.

The project, funded by the European Union, aims to promote the protection and respect for human rights, and enable access to remedy where violations occur especially in the Mid-Western and Karamoja sub-regions where private sector actors are increasingly involved in land-based investments (LBIs) through improved documentation, and evidence-based advocacy.

The three-year project, which commenced in October 2023, focuses its activities in the Mid-Western sub-region, covering Bulisa, Hoima, Masindi, Kiryandongo, Kikuube, Kagadi, Kibale, and Mubende districts, and Karamoja sub-region, covering Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Nabilatuk, Abim, Kaabong, Kotido, and Karenga districts.

The project targets individuals and groups at high risk of human rights violations, including Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs). It also engages government duty bearers such as policymakers and implementers in relevant ministries and local governments, recognizing their crucial role in securing land and environmental rights. Additionally, the project involves officials from institutional duty bearers including the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Equal Opportunities Commission, and courts, among others.

Representatives from the international community, faith leaders, and business actors are also included in the project’s scope, particularly those involved in land-based investments (LBIs) impacting the environment.

The project was initially launched in Moroto for the Karamoja region on the 19th of this month with the leadership of the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD).

According to the project implementors,  the action is organized into four activity packages aimed at; enhancing the capacity and skills of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs) in monitoring, documentation, reporting (MDR), and protection, establishing and reinforcing reporting and documentation mechanisms for advocacy and demand for corporate and government accountability;  providing response and support to HRDs and marginalized communities; and lastly facilitating collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagements that link local and national issues to national and international frameworks and spaces.

Continue Reading


Kiryandongo leadership agree to partner with Witness Radio Uganda to end rampant forced land evictions in the district.



By Witness Radio team.

Kiryandongo district leaders have embraced Witness Radio’s collaboration with the Kiryandongo district aimed at ending the rampant violent and illegal land evictions that have significantly harmed the livelihoods of the local communities in the area.

The warm welcome was made at the dialogue organized by Witness Radio Uganda, Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog at the Kiryandongo district headquarters, intended to reflect on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

Speaking at the high-level dialogue, that was participated in by technical officers, policy implementers, religious leaders, leaders of project affected persons (PAPs), politicians, media, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and development partners that support land and environment rights as well as the Land Based Investments (LBIs) Companies in the Kiryandongo district, the leaders led by the District Local Council 5 Chairperson, Ms. Edith Aliguma Adyeri appreciated the efforts taken by Witness Radio organization to organize the dialogue meeting aimed at bringing together stakeholders to safeguard community land and environmental rights in order address the escalating vice of land grabbing in the area.

During the dialogue, participants shared harrowing accounts of the impacts of land evictions and environmental degradation, including tragic deaths, families torn asunder, young girls forced into marriage, a surge in teenage pregnancies, limited access to education, and significant environmental damage which have profoundly affected the lives of the local population in Kiryandongo.

Participants attending the dialogue.

In recent years, Kiryandongo district has been embroiled in violent land evictions orchestrated to accommodate multinational large-scale agriculture plantations and wealthy individuals leaving the poor marginalized.

According to various reports, including findings from Witness Radio’s 2020 research Land Grabs at a Gun Point, the forceful land acquisitions in Kiryandongo have significantly impacted the livelihoods of local communities. It is estimated that nearly 40,000 individuals have been displaced from their land to make room for land-based investments in the Kiryandongo district. However, leaders in the district also revealed in the dialogue that women and children are affected most.

The Kiryandongo Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Jonathan Akweteireho, emphasized that all offices within the Kiryandongo district are actively involved in addressing the prevalent land conflicts. He also extended a welcome to Witness Radio, acknowledging their collaborative efforts in tackling and resolving land and environmental issues in the district.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we all know that the land rights together with environmental rights have been violated in our district, but because we don’t know what our rights are, because we have not directly done what we could to safeguard our rights and now this is the time that Witness Radio has brought us together to safeguard our rights. I want to welcome you in Kiryandongo and be rest assured that we shall give you all the necessary support to help us manage these rampant cases,” Ms. Adyeri said in her remarks during the dialogue meeting.

The team leader at Witness Radio Uganda, Mr. Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala expressed gratitude to the participants for their active involvement in the dialogue and revealed that Witness Radio’s objective is to find a holistic solution to the escalating land disputes in Kiryandongo district serving as an example to other districts.

“We are here to assist Kiryandongo district in attaining peace and stability because it stands as a hotspot for land grabbers in Uganda. Mismanagement of land conflicts in Uganda could potentially lead to a significant internal conflict. Everywhere you turn, voices are lamenting the loss of their land and property. Kiryandongo, abundant with ranches, suffers from a lack of a structured framework, which amplifies these land conflicts. The influx of wealthy investors further complicates the situation,” Mr. Ssebaggala disclosed.

Within the dialogue, Mr. Ssebaggala emphasized the need for the Kiryandongo district council to pass a by-law aimed at curbing land evictions as an initial step in addressing the prevalent land injustices.

Continue Reading


Kiryandongo authorities decry rising cases of land disputes



The LC5 chairperson of Kiryandongo, Ms Edith Aliguma Adyeri, has saidnland dispute has impacted on people’s lives, dignity and children’s education in the district.

Just like other parts of Uganda, conflicts over land in Kiryandongo arise when individuals – who often are blood relatives – compete for use of the same parcel of land or when members of the community lay claim over ownership of unutilised government land.

Ms Adyeri further said land and environmental rights affect people both directly and indirectly, “and we are not hearing it from afar. It is already together with us [here], it has already affected us!”

She was speaking at a meeting which sought to discuss alternative remedies to salvage the appalling land and environmental rights situation in Kiryandongo at the district headquarters on Thursday.

The one-day dialogue was aimed at reflecting on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

It was attended by private companies, members of civil society and local government officials and organised by Witness Radio – an advocate for land and environmental rights in Uganda – in partnership with Oxfam, and Kiryandongo District leadership.

“Some people have even died, families are broken up, and brothers are not seeing eye-to-eye because of land rights. Access to justice is equally becoming very difficult because when you hire one lawyer that
lawyer will talk to learned friends, and they agree. They leave you in suspense,” Ms Adyeri said.

According to her, some children have not accessed education because of land and environmental rights.

Mr Jonathan Akweteireho, the deputy Resident District Commissioner of Kiryandongo, said enlightened people especially should be sensitive to the historical injustice of this area.

“We can never handle the Bonyoro land question without thinking about that history. It will be an injustice to the incomers, to the government and to the leaders who don’t understand,” he said.

“We had 38 ranches here which on the guidance of these international organisations, especially the World Bank, the government restructured them, allowing people to settle there, they were never given titles and up to today, there are big problems in all those ranches,” he added.

Mr Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the executive director of Witness Radio, said that a well-functional land sector supports land users or holders and investors, reduces inefficiencies and provides mechanisms to resolve land disputes.

Mr David Kyategeka, the secretary to the Kiryandongo District Land Board, said the issue of land rights is very clear but the major challenge has been sensitising the locals to know what rights he or she expects to enjoy out of this very important resource.


Continue Reading

Resource Center

Legal Framework




Subscribe to Witness Radio's newsletter


Subscribe to Witness Radio's newsletter