More Ugandans continue to languish in poverty putting government on the spot in regards to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by world leaders two years.
The first ever assessment carried out by a network of NGOs led by the Uganda National NGO Forum on the process of attaining the goals shows that despite making some positive steps in reducing poverty, the gap between the rich and poor is widening further thus contradicting with the principle of “leave no one behind”.
World leaders in 2015 committed to achieve by 2030 an inclusive development model where no one is left behind and one of the set goals was eradicating poverty in all its forms by reducing the proportion of population below the international poverty line.
The assessment shows that the richest are 10% of the total population, enjoying 35.7% of the national income and this proportion has grown by nearly 20% over the past two decades.
The report further states that those at the bottom are on a downward poverty spiral while those at the top are on an upwards trend and this will worsen inequality in Uganda. The executive Director of the NGO forum Richard Ssewakiryanga recommends that focus for Uganda should not only dwell on economic growth but an all-inclusive growth plan to narrow the gap.
Ssewakiryanga says that since 2002, Uganda’s economy has experienced high growth of at least 6% annually, while GDP has trebled in real terms since 1990. On the other hand, the population of Ugandans living in poverty more than halved from 56.4% in 1993 to 19.7% in 2013.
In 2013, more than a third of Ugandans lived below the international poverty line of two dollars a day. The low national poverty rate of 19.7% reflects a poverty line that is too low and not a reality in which only a fifth of Ugandans are unable to meet their basic needs.
“We found that one of the things that Uganda is struggling with is to reduce inequality, when you reduce poverty, people will feel like they have what to spend but what we have now, the gap between the poor and rich is so huge and this is so challenging for all of us”. Ssewakiryanga emphasized.
The trend has been blamed on the way government allocates its budget. Agriculture remains one of the most underfunded and slowest growing sectors of the economy. In the financial year 2017/2018, only 3.7% of the budget was allocated to agriculture. This was a drop from 2016/2017 financial year when 4% of the budget was dedicated to agriculture.
The proportion of the budget dedicated to agriculture is also below the 10% that Uganda committed to under the Maputo Declaration yet the sector employs 70% of Uganda’s population.
It was also noted despite the fact that Uganda has been ranked the world’s most entrepreneurial country, many of the businesses, especially small ones that are mostly women owned, die at infancy- killed by high operation costs and taxes. The organizations are now calling for fair taxes to allow those such businesses grow.
The assessment done also shows general regional inequalities; “The people in Northern Uganda are eight times poorer than those in Western Uganda and five times poorer than those in the East. Almost half of the people in Northern Uganda still live in extreme poverty…” the report reads in part.
Civil society organizations that carried out the assessment under the Agenda core reference group are recommending that Government increases investment in pro poor sectors such as public education, health, agriculture and disaster preparedness to reduce inequality and poverty.
The organizations also want government to halt plans to amend land laws to remove the requirement of prompt and prior compensation as this will take away valuable land resources without giving the poor an option.
The report from the assessment done also show that Uganda is also still not doing well on other goals like gender equity and empowerment, ensuring healthy lives and global partnerships.
Complaint against unprofessional conduct of the DPC Kiryandongo district for aiding and abetting land grabbing in kiryandongo district.
Professional Standards Unit, Uganda Police-Kampala.
RE: COMPLAINT AGAINST UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT OF THE DPC KIRYANDONGO DISTRICT FOR AIDING AND ABETTING LAND GRABBING IN NYAMUTENDE KITWARA PARISH KIRYANDONGO DISTRICT AND CARRYING OUT ILLEGAL ARRESTS AND DETENTION OF INNOCENT RESIDENTS/ BIBANJA OWNERS FOR PROTESTING AGAINST THE ILLEGAL EVICTION FROM THEIR LAND.
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
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.
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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