As Uganda GDP drops to 3.5 from 5%, the latest research is revealing that 73 per cent of Uganda’s total population that depend on agriculture are losing their access to land due to Pursuit of Large-Scale Agricultural Investment Projects, Changing Policy and Local Pressures.
The government’s available statistics indicate that the percentage of women engaged in agricultural activities is estimated to be even higher at 83 per cent (UBOS, 2005).
A new research titled ‘understanding changing land access issues for the rural poor in Uganda’ indicates that given the current architecture of Uganda’s economy, it is projected that the percentage of the population directly dependent on agriculture is likely to remain the same or even increase in the foreseeable future.
The 86 page report whose lead researchers Godber Tumushabe, the associate director of Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies and Alex Tatwagire, a lecturer at the College of Agricultural and Environment Sciences at Makerere University, indicated that “pursuit of large-scale agricultural investment projects has changed the overall economic landscape” which has triggered actual and perceived high returns from land hence increasing demand and driving up land prices making it hard for poor communities to bargain for their land access.
Also, the research reveals that the “changing policy narrative” that has dominated the public policy discussions over the last decade is also responsible for changes in access to land in Uganda. “Policies on poverty eradication, investment and agricultural transformation have elevated land issues to the top of Uganda’s national policy agenda,” the report noted.
Whereas policies on acquisition of land are in place, the research contends that the processes taking place at local level do “overtake” national reforms aimed at strengthening tenure security for rural households.
“Powerful individuals in a community can effectively constrain reforms on how land is governed,” the research says, “the capacity of customary institutional arrangements to deliver clear land rights, and resistance to unlawful evictions.”
“Meanwhile, many poor people face severe land access challenges,” the research added, “high cost of processing certificates of customary occupancy, the cost of processing land titles, difficulties in securing compensation for their land, and poor protection from illegal evictions.”
The research also found that decentralization policies and the creation of new districts have triggered “many legal cases between communities, districts, and border counties…”
“Poor land valuations and compensations between government and landowners also create tensions, among different ethnic groups,” the report notes, elaborating the finding with a land dispute that is still raging in Apa Parish, Amuru area.
“…is at the centre of a power struggle between the Uganda World Life Authority, Amuru district and adjumani district,” said the research. Local people in this area, claim these government agencies want to evict them from their ancestral land.
This research focused on two case studies of large-scale land acquisitions from southern and northern regions of the country. In Southern Uganda, researchers visited Kalangala district for it offers context in which large-scale commercial land use is developing and it hosts a major palm oil agricultural development that begun in 1998.
In the northern region, the researchers chose Amuru district where more locally- driven factors are likely to govern land access. In Amuru, where 40Km tract of land is in issue, there is a raging conflict between worrying factions and it has claimed more than five people so far.
Public Policy not favourable
The commitment to invest in commercial agriculture to achieve socioeconomic transformation has got far implications because the impact of the situation goes beyond specific locations, according to the research.
In the end, the research therefore, suggests, “Economic growth and investment policies appear to outweigh land sector-specific policies as drivers of land access change.”
The research explains that the “development of infrastructure has the direct effect of opening up previously marginal areas,” thus “triggering fresh competition for land.”
As more land changes hands through the market, the report says that “high prices and weak bargaining power may exclude the poorest and marginalized groups in rural as well as urban areas.”
The ever increasing commercial interests have “shifted” the modes of land access from traditional means (inheritance, gifts and squatting) to market modes.
According to the report, the above change, “hits some segments of the population hard such as the youth who previously benefited from traditional means of land access.”
In our next report, we will bring you the dynamics of how land access is changing from the local features’ perspective.
Statement: The Energy Sector Strategy 2024–2028 Must Mark the End of the EBRD’s Support to Fossil Fuels
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is due to publish a new Energy Sector Strategy before the end of 2023. A total of 130 civil society organizations from over 40 countries have released a statement calling on the EBRD to end finance for all fossil fuels, including gas.
From 2018 to 2021, the EBRD invested EUR 2.9 billion in the fossil energy sector, with the majority of this support going to gas. This makes it the third biggest funder of fossil fuels among all multilateral development banks, behind the World Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank.
The EBRD has already excluded coal and upstream oil and gas fields from its financing. The draft Energy Sector Strategy further excludes oil transportation and oil-fired electricity generation. However, the draft strategy would continue to allow some investment in new fossil gas pipelines and other transportation infrastructure, as well as gas power generation and heating.
In the statement, the civil society organizations point out that any new support to gas risks locking in outdated energy infrastructure in places that need investments in clean energy the most. At the same time, they highlight, ending support to fossil gas is necessary, not only for climate security, but also for ensuring energy security, since continued investment in gas exposes countries of operation to high and volatile energy prices that can have a severe impact on their ability to reach development targets. Moreover, they underscore that supporting new gas transportation infrastructure is not a solution to the current energy crisis, given that new infrastructure would not come online for several years, well after the crisis has passed.
The signatories of the statement call on the EBRD to amend the Energy Sector Strategy to
- fully exclude new investments in midstream and downstream gas projects;
- avoid loopholes involving the use of unproven or uneconomic technologies, as well as aspirational but meaningless mitigation measures such as “CCS-readiness”; and
- strengthen the requirements for financial intermediaries where the intended nature of the sub-transactions is not known to exclude fossil fuel finance across the entire value chain.
Download the statement: https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2023-09/ngo-statement-on-energy-sector-strategy-2024-2028.pdf
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.
MEDIA FOR CHANGE NETWORK2 weeks ago
Pushing back: The EACOP victim community rushes to court seeking reinstatement onto their land and compensation.
DEFENDING LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS4 days ago
Statement: The Energy Sector Strategy 2024–2028 Must Mark the End of the EBRD’s Support to Fossil Fuels