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| By Our Reporter|
Hon. Judith Nabakooba ,the Minister of lands ,Housing and Urban Development Has asked the people of Mbale to guard their Lands titles from land grabbers who are evicting Kibanja holders in many parts of the country .
Nabakoba was presiding over the historic hand-over of customary land titles to customary land owners in Bungokho and Bukasakya sub counties, Mbaale District by International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), together with UN Habitat/ Global Tools Network Unit (GLTN).
At least 828 families from the two sub counties received their customary title deed (508 in Bungokho and 320 in Bukasakya). The Constitution and the Land Act provide for a legal framework where government at Sub County and Division levels can register customary land owners and issue them certificates of title .
Customary land accounts for an estimated 80% of Uganda’s land area but most of it is unrecorded. The Minister thanked the implementing partners, IIRR and UN Habitat/ Global Tools Network Unit (GLTN) for their support to have the people of Mbale have their land rights registered and Legally protected .
“Those of you who have received your certificates today, I urge you to keep your Certificates well and to jealously guard them. You are now recognized as bonafide owners of land by the government, the courts of law and at various levels of local government. She told the locals that many cases that have been reported to her are due to the unclear boundaries of people ‘s bibanja and that under the IIRR Project boundaries have been clearly demarcated and everyone knows the limits of his or her plot of land.
“Even if they are removed, we can go back in the system and have them reinstated because the GPS coordinates of the land are captured using demarcation technologies. This is the best way to secure your customary land from speculators and fraudulent land dealers,” the minister stated.
The Minister further asked the beneficiaries to make good use of the land by putting it to good use through the Parish Development Model and what Operation Wealth Creation which are extending government support to Ugandans . These interventions will lead to land productivity and food security.
Ms Pamela Nyamutoka Katooro, the IIR Country Director explained that the main objective for the project is to help small holder farmers- have their land secured. She noted that although the land percentage of land in Uganda is under customary ownership few people have legally recognizable documentation to secure and prove ownership of land.
“We support land tenure security specifically in rural areas. Our focus is in supporting customary land owners to get security of tenure through documentation of their customary rights. There are a number of wrangles that have arisen due to the lack of the documentation,” she said.
Ms Nyamutoka further explained that they work with the structures on ground like the area land committees and district land boards to provide these certificates of customary ownership. She said that her organization also builds capacity around land rights and sensitisation through the various trainings about land rights they hold at the community level, via radio and other fore to ensure that the people understand their land rights.
“We wanted to make this process very gender inclusive and we encouraged several women to also become land owners. Since the project started four years ago, we have been able to have over 4,000 beneficiaries getting their land titles. We are thankful for the support from the Ministry of lands,” she said.
Ms Elizabeth Wakoli, one of the beneficiaries in Bungokho stated ;”I am now very happy after getting my
land title because as a widow, someone may want to grab my land. I feel relieved that I now have the right documentation for my land.”
Mr Christmas Eric Munialo, the IIRR project coordinator thanked the sub county authorities for working with him and IIRR to ensure the exercise is successful.
”People thought it was a hoax and that we wanted to steal their land but through the sub county authorities, beneficiaries were able to open up and own this process.”