Joy as 1,300 get free customary land titles

 Kabale District vice chairperson Miria Akankwasa Tugume (centre) hands over a land title to a resident at Kamuganguzi Sub-county headquarters on Friday.  PHOTO/EMMANUEL ARINEITWE

What you need to know:

  •  Government says the move is meant to stop land grabbing.

There was excitement in Kabale District on Friday after 1,391 families received free Customary Land titles from government.

The government in partnership with the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) and Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) handed over the free land titles to residents of Buhara, Kitumba, Kamuganguzi and Rubaya sub-counties, and Ryakarimiira Town Council. 

The 1,391 families are part of more 3,600 families, who applied for the free land titles between 2018 and 2019 in a project funded by the United Nations-Habitat with funding from the Embassy of Netherlands.

The IIRR team leader-in-charge of south western and Elgon regions, Mr Alex Muhumuza, said in 2018, the Lands ministry working with UN and GLTN launched a campaign of surveying and demarcating land for willing landowners in the area at no cost.

“The beneficiaries have received Customary Land titles and are issued with certificates as one of the strategies of increasing access to land and tenure security for all. Those who applied paid Shs10,000 to the sub-county, but the money remained at the sub county, since we facilitated each and everything,” Mr Muhumuza said.

He explained that the land titles have details about the locality, type of land, date of processing and people who witnessed the entire process.

The IIRR Africa country director, Ms Pamela Nyamutoka, said they were supposed to hand over the land titles to the beneficiaries in 2020, but were delayed by the Covid-19 lockdown.

“The main intention is to ensure that everyone has security of his land from land grabbers. We also aim at enabling owners to have collateral to ease the process of borrowing money from financial institutions. It also gives the owner a sense of self-sufficiency and independence and allowing them to easily bequeath their property as they wish,” Ms Nyamutoka said.

“We also wanted women be accorded the right to land ownership because we have received cases where land is sold without their consent,” she added.

District leaders lauded
Ms Nyamutoka also commended the ministry of Lands and Kabale District leadership for sensitising the residents, and changing their mindset about owning land titles.
She also warned the beneficiaries against giving out their land titles to money lenders.

She urged them to acquire loans from banks and Saccos at a low cost.

The Kabale District vice chairperson, Ms Miria Akankwasa Tugume, commended IIRR and government for the initiative. She said most residents have been lacking land ownership documents and this has been one of the factors fuelling land conflicts in the area.

“When you go to court, land cases are many and I hope with these titles, the cases will reduce,” she  said.
Ms Tugume also said due to high demand, she has asked the funders to extend the exercise to the entire district.

The Rubaya Sub-county chief, Mr Ivan Mugayehwenki, commended the project funders and facilitators for giving out land titles for free of charge, saying most families do not have funds to process them.

Land conflicts in the area have been on the rise. In August 2020, 43-year-old John Mugisha, a resident of Nyamugoma Village in Kaharo Sub-county, hacked to death his step mother and his brother, accusing them of denying him rights to the ancestral land.

He was also later killed by a mob. In May this year, authorities in Kigezi Sub-region raised the red flag after 25 murder cases, most of whom were precipitated by land wrangles, were registered at various police stations in the area.