Nabakooba urges Butaleja locals on customary land registration

The Lands, Housing and Urban Development Minister Judith Nabakooba. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • At least 80 percent of the land in Uganda is customarily owned, yet the holders lack proper documentation that can act as a point of reference in case of a dispute

The Lands, Housing and Urban Development Minister Judith Nabakooba, has urged customary land owners in Butaleja District to embrace customary land registration.
While officiating at the handover of 300 out of 3,000 free certificates of customary land titles to registered land owners from the three sub-counties of Mazimasa, Kachonga and Naweyo at Mazimasa Sub-county headquarters yesterday, the minister said the move is aimed at curtailing the massive land grabbing in the district.

At least 80 percent of the land in Uganda is customarily owned, yet the holders lack proper documentation that can act as a point of reference in case of a dispute. 
The minister told the locals that customary land titles offer the same legal tenure protection as the free-hold tenure system, let alone being cheap and easier to process.

“This is the second handover of customary certificates we are witnessing today. The first one was carried out on July 4 2019, when the President handed over certificates to 2,324 small-holder farmers and their families, of which 1,031 were women,” Ms Nabakooba said.
She further explained that the President had encouraged those who had not yet done so to register their family land interests in order to resolve and reduce land disputes in the district.

The President had also advised the families against sub-dividing their land noting that the continuous sub-division of farmland would lead to small sized land holdings that would be hard to economically utilise.
The Board chairperson of Uganda Community Based Organisation for Women and Children Welfare (UCOBAC), Ms Grace Angeline Chelimo, said in partnership with the government, UN-Habitat and Global Land Tools Network (GLTN), with support from the Netherland Enterprise and Development Agency (RVO), has been implementing a project titled “scaling up community-based land registration and land use planning on customary land in Butaleja, focusing on the three sub-counties.

She also observed that during the demarcation and mapping process, land disputes were resolved. Out of the 20 land disputes encountered, 19 were resolved.
The UN Habitat for humanity, a GLTN-funded programme, seeks to ensure tenure security for the vulnerable poor and special interest groups using-fit-for purpose tools. 
Ms Aisha Namudama, one of the beneficiaries, expressed joy at receiving her land title, adding that she was often discouraged by speculators, who claimed the government was after grabbing their land. 

Another beneficiary, Mr Moses Guloba, said many land owners had shunned the registration programme, fearing that it could be a scam. 
The Butaleja District Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Mr Ben Male, noted that the project has many aims, especially addressing the rampant land disputes in the district.
The Butaleja District Chairperson, Mr Micheal Higenyi, said the district population density is much higher than that of the national density, which causes land disputes.
“The population explosion remains the biggest factor that has partly engineered land conflicts,” Mr Higenyi said.

The Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Ms Racheal Nkoko, commended the government for the intervention, which she said was part of mechanisms to combat rampant land disputes in the district. 
The Area MPs, Mr Yusuf Mutembuli (Bunyole East) and Ms Florence Andiru (District Woman), however, said chasing locals from the wetlands in Butaleja is like committing suicide. 
“Cultivation of rice is the backbone of the people of Butaleja. So we appeal to the government to stop evicting people from wetlands,” Mr Mutembuli said.