Kilak South MP GilbertOlanya has asked the people of Amuru to register their land in wake of multiple land conflicts in the district among families clans and state agencies as well as investors. Olanya was yesterday addressing the media in Gulu town as part of the Land Awareness Week in Amuru that seeks to engage the community in knowing their land rights.
The Land Awareness Week, organised by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, runs under the theme, “Together we protect our land.” It seeks to conduct open public sensitisation at parish levels, music exhibition on land rights, and media engagement through radio talk shows and mobile legal clinics to contain the situation in Amuru, a district that has been rife with land wrangles over the last few years.
Olanya said Amuru has endless land conflicts because of the vast unregistered land that the district possesses.
“If you go to the Ministry of Land, on the map of Amuru District, it shows that the land is vacant. That is why anybody will go to the Ministry of Land and identify the area then come on the ground to process land title without the community knowing how they got their document,” Olanya said.
The legislator said the major problem the community has is ignorance of how to document their land. He cited the case of Omer parish whose land mass the Ministry of Land mapping indicates is vacant yet a community is settled in the area.
“That is why we are mobilising people in Amuru, let each and every family document their land. The world is modernising so rapidly and if you insist on customary ownership, you will be left out automatically,” Olanya said.
A team of 10 lawyers have been hired to offer their services for free to sensitise the community and also tell them the rightful procedures of being a bona fide landlord.
The awareness campaign is being championed by Participatory Ecological Land Use Management, PELUM Uganda, the NGO at the forefront of organising the event in partnership with Amuru District Local Government, Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers Forum, ESAFF, Action Aid, International Justice Mission Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative,ARLPI and The Legal Aid Service Providers Network, LASPNET, among other partners.
Moses Otim, a project coordinator with PELUM Uganda, said they hope to strengthen roles and coordination of various stakeholders and document issues for proactive move on land matters.
“Amuru has always been reported as a hotbed for land wrangles. We know people want to settle in the fertile land in Amuru. We want people to know their land rights and use it to protect their true land,” Otim said.
One of the most contested land in Kololo in Amuru sub-county is a swathe covering more than 10,000 hectares that sugar barons Madhvani Group have been trying to possess for growing sugarcane. Officials say the compensation for the land would cost Madhvani about Shs20 billion.
Otim said the land conflict is hindering productive use of land to benefit the community that is still recovering from decades of insurgency fueled by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.
Police in Amuru District say their records show that about 90 percent of cases reported are land-related.