CPAR Uganda Ltd

facebook twitter 

MLHUD Implement UNLP and Facilitate Evolution of Customary Tenure

Author: Ms. Norah Owaraga

On Monday, 14th May 2018, I experienced and observed officers of the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) who were at work in Pallisa in Eastern Uganda, about 200km by road north-east from Kampala Capital City. The UNRA officers were in Pallisa handling compensation matters in relation to the up-grading and widening of the Pallisa-Kumi road. The contracted road constructors, Arabs apparently, are already in Pallisa and have reportedly begun to source local employees and service providers.

Read more: MLHUD Implement UNLP and Facilitate Evolution of Customary Tenure

Land dispossession and Malnutrition in Teso

The Iteso are the fifth largest first nation of Uganda. They are descended from ‘African-Uganda’ peoples who occupied Uganda pre-colonisation. The Iteso claim Teso, an area in Eastern Uganda, as their land. Teso includes the present day Uganda administrative districts of: Amuria, Bukedea, Kaberamaido, Katakwi, Kumi, Ngora, Serere and Soroti; and, in addition, Iteso claim territories in parts of Pallisa and Tororo Districts.

Read more: Land dispossession and Malnutrition in Teso

Join the Debate: “Regularisation” of Land Ownership under Customary Tenure

Do you have the legitimacy to push for so-called "regularisation" of land that is held under customary tenure through registering it through certificates of customary tenure?

In accordance with the laws of Uganda, if you are not a traditional cultural institution or you are not representing a traditional cultural institution you have no legitimacy whatsoever to be discussing land that is held under customary tenure, let alone be enforcing so-called  “regularization” initiatives such as certificates of customary tenure, without the express permission from the owners of the land that is held under customary tenure, the traditional cultural institutions; which traditional cultural institutions, by the way, own the land under customary only in trust on behalf of their respective first nations.

Read more: Join the Debate: “Regularisation” of Land Ownership under Customary Tenure

High Stakes in Uganda’s Land Question

Originally, the intention was that the arguments in this discussion would be carried by exploring the question: “What is the value of my ancestors’ graves?” The hypothesis was that one can tell who the current actors in Uganda’s land question are by how they answer the question: “What is the value of my ancestors’ graves?” The discussion was going to centre on such aspects of how I might be forced to value my ancestors’ remains and their graves when a particular kind of “development” comes to their resting places.

  • How should I value the worth of my ancestors’ remains and therefore the value of the land that is their resting place? 
  • Should I value my ancestors’ remains on the basis of the cost incurred for the burial; or perhaps, the number of mourners that attended the funeral; or perhaps, the cost of relocation and reburying?

Read more: High Stakes in Uganda’s Land Question

Policy Brief on Bill 133 of 2017 to Amending Article 26 of the Constitution


Ms. Judy Adoko, Executive Director of Land and Equity Movement (LEMU) has effectively authored this policy brief clearly articulating why Article 26 of the Constitution of the republic of Uganda should not be amended. Basically, Ms. Adoko makes a good point and demonstrates why there is no need for a constitutional amendment on the matter of land management and that in fact there are other land management legislative issues that need to be acted upon urgently. One such issue is the need for a law to be enacted to fully operationalise the implementation of Article 26 of the Constitution.

Ms. Adoko’s opinion is seemingly supported by another significant human rights lawyer, Mr. Nicholas Opio, who through social media sites, face book, warned that the proposed amendment of Article 216 is “an insidious and toxic amendment that will plunge the country into chaos, poverty and instability.”  Mr. Opio, like Ms. Adoko, proposes more appropriate alternatives to the constitutional amendment such as: expediting land dispute resolution mechanisms; reform of the land administration system and a revisit of the roles of district land boards.

The policy brief that is authored by Ms. Adoko is appropriately titled: “Why Uganda should be cautious about amending Article 26 of the constitution.” Read it in full here.

Certificates of Customary Ownership Risky Business

Uganda’s Constitution stipulates that “all land in Uganda shall vest in the citizens of Uganda and shall be owned in accordance with the following land tenure systems: customary, freehold, mailo and leasehold.”

A significant proportion, the majority, of Uganda’s land is under customary tenure - except in Uganda’s central region where the majority of the land is individually owned. Moreover, the bulk of Uganda’s individually owned land is under unregistered freehold mailo.

Read more: Certificates of Customary Ownership Risky Business

Policy Report on Agriculture in Uganda

This policy report on agriculture in Uganda from a cultural anthropological perspective historicises the formation of the political entity - the nation-state that is the Republic of Uganda and how its history shaped and continues to shape agriculture policy for the territory now known as Uganda. The report interrogates whether or not the actors in the overall landscape of the territory’s national policy framework for agriculture are characteristically the proverbial “blind leading the blind.”

Policy for the territory, in general, is often discussed in a manner that assumes that its population is homogenous.  Moreover, the territory has been occupied and claimed by different peoples. ‘Khosian-Ugandans’ are believed to have been the indigenous inhabitants of the territory. In the first millennium A.D. other African peoples, ‘African-Ugandans’ migrated from other parts of Africa into the territory, absorbing and replacing ‘Khosian-Ugandans’. In the late 1800s the English colonised the territory and appropriated territorial control from its prior inhabitants. 

Read more: Policy Report on Agriculture in Uganda

Customary Tenure in Uganda


Extracts from The Uganda National Land Policy (Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, 2013):

4.3 Customary Tenure; 38: The majority of Ugandans hold their land under customary tenure.

Policy Statements (39)

  1. The State shall recognise customary tenure in its own form to be at par (same level) with other tenure systems.
  2. The State shall establish a land registry system for the registration of land rights under customary tenure.

Read more: Customary Tenure in Uganda

Right Colonial Land Injustice; Reconstruct Uganda


 The latest push by the Buganda Kingdom through its Buganda Land Board to give lease titles to hitherto customary land owners (bibanja holders) on Kabaka’s land that is code named “Kyapa Mungalo” (land title deed at hand) has sharpened a quagmire that is in-built within the nation-state Uganda on matters land.  For all intent and purposes the nation-state Uganda came into being through a major land grab by and for the benefit of the English who colonised the territory now known as Uganda; and that is the genesis of the quagmire. 

Read more: Right Colonial Land Injustice; Reconstruct Uganda

Agriculture Policy Advocacy Programme

In 2016, CPAR began its Policy Advocacy Programmes in which it functions as a Consulting Organisation. The Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA) contracted CPAR through its Managing Director, Ms. Norah Owaraga, a cultural anthropologist and the subject specialist, to conduct a study over a period of three months for the purpose of investigating “the elusive nexus between the endogenous and the exogenous food systems within the context of Uganda’s agriculture.” In the context of climate change, the overall goal of the study was to generate knowledge that will facilitate a deeper understanding of arguments that are related to food systems within Uganda’s agriculture.  Specifically the study objectives were to:

Read more: Agriculture Policy Advocacy Programme