UTN News

LAND CONFLICTS CRIPPLE DEVELOPMENT IN ACHOLI

Land access, ownership and use offers the only source of survival to the vast majority of impoverished Ugandans especially those residing in post conflict regions of the country. This vital resource has now however turned into a source of conflict between communities, families and clans as post war land wrangles wage-on in Acholi sub region, undermining development and the resettlement processes.

It is estimated that 80% of court cases in the region are land related while many are unreported. These land wrangles are a threat to the resettlement process since land is a critical element in peace building and economic reconstruction in post conflict situations. It is close to ten years since an estimated 1.8 million people in Northern Uganda began returning to their homes following the defeat of the Lord’s resistance army rebels under Joseph Kony.

This process is however now being challenged by massive land conflicts. Land conflicts among returnees in Acholi have become common place between families, communities, clans and tribes. These wrangles are partially attributed to a generational gap. BYTE FREDRICK OKETCHA COUNCILOR NWOYA DISTRICT.

The customary land tenure system in Acholi was a source of social security which provided for collective land rights and ownership. Although the tenure system has not changed, there is practical evidence of a shift from the communal system to a more individualistic approach. BYTE: MARTIN OJARA MAPENDUZI LC 5 CHAIRMAN, GULU

This shift has caused trouble for the 70year old widow. Before the insurgency, Edith Ayot used to live in harmony with her brother in law’s family. In fact, this marital land was freely given to her late husband by her elder brother in law. However, after the war the relationship between the two families went sour. BYTE EDITH AYOT. RESIDENT, NWOYA

Two years ago the matter was taken to Gulu high court which ruled in favor of Ayot’s family but the court ruling was not respected by the worrying part. In the process of this land conflict Ayot lost three of her children and husband under unknown circumstances scaring off four others who fled their home leaving Ayot to stay alone. Ayot now survives on handouts from well wishers since she can not till her land because of the conflict.

BYTE EDITH AYO FREDRICK OKETCHA As the Acholis return to their villages, land is the only spring board for recovery that is left for this community. For many losing it means losing everything.