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More than 1,300 families lined up for free land titles



Dialogue. Some of the beneficiaries on Block 125 Plot 18 to 23 land at Ddagala in Kalungi Sub-county attend a sensitisation meeting on Tuesday. PHOTO BY DAN WANDERA

At least 1,300 families in Nakasongola District have a reason to smile after government finalised the process of issuing them free land titles.
The beneficiaries are in eight villages across the sub-counties of Kalungi, Kalongo and Lwampanga.
This comes after government successfully compensated the absentee landlords who owned the land the tenants currently occupy.
The beneficiaries, who settled on an estimated 10.8 square mile piece of land, have reportedly suffered the wrath of a section of absentee landlords through illegal evictions, destruction of property and injustices in land ownership disputes.
However, during a sensitisation tour by officials from Uganda Land Commission (ULC), headed by the chairperson, Ms Beatrice Byenkya, on Tuesday, residents of Kigejjo Village in Kalungi Sub-county, who are occupying Block 128, Plot 19, expressed dismay that some of their colleagues had been duped to pay money to their landlord yet they had already sold land to the commission under the land fund scheme.
“We sold our cows and gave money to our landlord after they promised to give us our respective land titles. We are now in a dilemma after realising that the same land had already been sold to government. We are not sure whether our money can be recovered,” Mr Jerome Ssebbaale, a resident of Kigejjo Village, said.
Mr Noah Mutebi Wanzala, the Nakasongola County MP, told ULC officials that at least Shs70m was solicited from sitting tenants on Block 176, Plot 9, yet the land had already been sold to government.
“We want the Commission to follow up this matter so that this money can be recovered from the landlord. We have had a big challenge in Nakasongola District where almost 80 per cent of the residents are squatters. The unending land disputes, evictions and the failure by the land custodians to properly interpret the sensitive sections of the Land Act is the reason many people are landless,” he said.
Mr Mutebi lauded government for considering Nakasongola as a special area which was included on the list of districts to benefit from the Land Fund.
He said about Shs5b was used to pay off the absentee landlords on an estimated 10.8 square mile land in Nakasongola to have the affected tenants get their land titles.
Ms Byenkya said ULC was aware of the selfish individuals who are duping sitting tenants and several cases are being investigated.
“We have already noted cases where the commission will deduct the money that has been solicited from tenants from the compensation package to the landlords,” she said.
Ms Margaret Komuhangi, the Nakasongola District Woman MP, said about 85 per cent of the families are tenants on land that they have no proper sense of ownership.
“You cannot develop a permanent project on land where the landlord threatens to have you evicted. Some of the tenants have been forced to give in more than 60 per cent of the total land that they own to the landlord to have a land title,” she said.

Mr Ivan Sserwambala, an officer in charge of survey and plot demarcation programme at Bukalasa regional land office that also oversees greater Luweero sub-region, said the survey process was underway.
“We are already on the ground with a team of surveyors. These people will soon get their land titles from government,” he said.

Ms Betty Amongi, the former Lands minister in her recent handover report to the new minister, Ms Beti Kamya, indicated that the Ministry of Lands had outstanding arrears of about Shs140b to compensate all absentee landlords across the country and effect the presidential directives under ULC.

Other beneficiaries in Nakasongola are settled on land at Junda Village Kalungi Sub-county (Block 128 Plot 19), land at Mayirikiti Town Council on Block 135, land at Kigejjo Village on Block 176 Plot 9, land at Ddagala in Kalungi Sub-county on Block 125 Plot 18 to 23, and land at Zengebe in Lwampanga Sub-county on Block 44 Plot 6 measuring about 640 acres.

2010 land act
Nearly a decade ago, Parliament passed the Land Amendment Act 2010, which government said was to protect tenants from illegal evictions.
However, Buganda Kingdom strongly opposed the legislation, saying a new law was uncalled for since government had failed to enforce the existing laws.
The law gives tenants more rights to resist eviction by landlords. Landlords need a court order to evict tenants and must notify them before selling their land, but some of these conditions are never followed and many tenants are being evicted without court orders.

Source: Daily Monitor


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.

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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.

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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.


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