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Ministry of Lands to process CLA certificates for Karamoja

Karamoja elders during peace dialogue in Kotido district recently

By Timothy Eodu

The department of Land Registration at the Directorate of Land management in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and urban development has promised to process the pending Communal Land Certificates-CLAs that have been forwarded to its secretariat.

This was during a stakeholder’s engagement organized by Land and Equity Movement of Uganda-LEMU to discuss experiences and challenges encountered while sensitising the communities about CLA from Shalosha hotel in Moroto Municipality yesterday.

Rowena Dukiirwa from the department of Lands registration in the Ministry revealed that most of the applications from the region are at the secretariat and ready for processing but the limited financing of the ministry is affecting the process as government has cut most funds to ministries.

She urged that liberty should be left to the communities to decide on which type of land titles they would wish to have, either customary or free hold as long as they are able to agree and meet the terms of such titles they want.

Ms. Dukiirwa also cautioned that all actors who are helping communities with registration of their lands must be very sensitive especially for the fact that Karamoja region’s dynamics and culture are too communal and people may feel offended hence causing division which may lead to conflict.

She has called for cooperation from the clans, local, district leaderships and NGOs supporting communities to acquire certificates of land ownership if the process are to be smooth and fast enough.

According to the executive director LEMU Theresa Auma, unresolved boundary disputes between the government administrative units and cultural or communal administrative units have affected the registration of such communal lands.

She says the sub county administrations fear that with the demarcation of such communal lands, part of their administrative area will be cut off and yet to the community, they stretch beyond such units especially for the grazing lands.

Meanwhile David Bwangamoe Pulkol the Executive Director Africa Leadership Institute says the people of Karamoja know their land boundaries using physical features such as rivers, trees among others and ownership of land culturally belong to the mothers.

He says such a high degree of influence exhibited by the Karimojong people on aspects of land ownership, especially clan heads like know boundaries, how many gardens each household in a Kraal has and areas of conflict.

“This is why the Karimojong feel comfortable about their land ownership system (communal). By trying to register these lands, they feel like they are being divided and as such there is need to involve clan leaders in the process so that they get to understand why land must be protected, Pulkol said.”

Mr. Pulkol insisted that the past experiences that some communities like those in Rupa Sub County have had with Mining companies has made it difficult for them to accept any land registration without better understanding of the intentions.

He said most elites in the region have also taken advantage of their unsuspecting illiterate brothers, fathers and mothers in the region to steal chunks of land in the name of big shots in government for alleged development and yet it is for their personal benefit.

However, Simon Peter Nangiro one of the elders in Moroto district says that cultural leaders lack confidence in the system of registering land (government or NGOs) because several communities have lost land in the similar manner.

He says the communities are not being told the legal benefit of acquiring the certificate of land ownership as much as they perceive such demarcations as a means of divisionism, which is not the way their fore fathers lived.

“The Karimojong are not used to this type of settlement and yet today it is very important if we are to protect the remaining land for the future of our children. In the past anyone could settle anywhere as long as that community welcomed them, this is the reason why our people are not convinced, Nangiro said.”

Communal land according to the Land Act is that land held by a specific community or group of people recognizing individual rights in that land and regulating its use and management.

A community according to the Land Act means an indigenous community of Uganda as provided for in the Third Schedule to the constitution, or any clan or sub clan of any such indigenous community that is communally occupying, using or managing land.

The Land Act, Section 15, provides for the establishment of a Communal Land Association by any group of persons for any purpose connected with communal ownership and management of land, whether under customary law or otherwise. Communal land may be held under a Certificate of Customary Ownership or freehold title by the managing committee on behalf of the CLA.

Customary tenure is a form of land holding where land is held and managed according to the generally acceptable norms and practices of a particular community. This type of tenure is believed to constitute approximately 80% of the total land in Uganda.

The 1995 Constitution of Uganda under Article 237 vests land in the citizens of Uganda to be held in accordance with four land tenure systems. Article 237 (3) provides for the tenure systems as (a) customary, (b) freehold, (c) mailo (d) leasehold. Under section 4 (a) it states that all citizens owing land under customary tenure may acquire a certificate of ownership in a manner prescribed by parliament.

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