Certificate of communal ownership: Lands Ministry completes first consultation phase in Acholi

Certificate of communal ownership: Lands Ministry completes first consultation phase in Acholi
Locals in Kaali parish, Paicho subcounty in Gulu attend one of the consultative meetings.

A team of technical officials from various units within the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development have completed the first  phase of community sensitization of land ownership in Acholi Sub-region.

Led by Dorcas Okalany, the Permanent Secretary in the Lands Ministry, the team has been encouraging local communities in11 sub-counties across the districts of Gulu, Pader, Amuru and Agago to register for acquisition of certificate of communal ownership.

“We are here to consult all stakeholders in Acholi sub-region and sensitize them to secure their customary land, using lawful means and help them with modern tools of land management,” said the Lands Permanent Secretary.

The effort by the Ministry of Lands in engaging communities in the region stems from continuous concerns from among the Acholi community that their precious resource of land is under threat from external grabbers.

In 2015, the ministry began implementation programmes to register customary lands and issues of documentation to customary landowners.

Accordingly, individuals, families, clans and communities are now being guided on steps in the land act that would help them to register their land.

Okalany also noted “in Acholi, the local chiefs will be used including the local councils in promoting mediation on land matters as a mechanism of alternative dispute resolution.”

Locals attend a town hall meeting.

Citing Karamoja region, where she says 90% has been covered under the certificate of communal ownership.

“The results show that where these have been issued there are minimal land issues. The districts of Pader, Nwoya and Agago, are singled for this progressive approach.”

Locals in the region once deeply affected by armed conflict are also being encouraged to acknowledge vulnerable members of their communities

such as women and children during registration for certification of

communal ownership.

“The clan leaders are very important, not just for promoting cohesion among families within the community, but also do strengthen credibility in the event that some land owners may want to do a transaction using it as collateral,” said Mathew Otto.

Gulu Resident District Commissioner Alice Akello, regretted the high levels of land conflict in sub- region saying it has repeatedly resulted into serious crime such as assault, arson and murder cases.

"We thank the Almighty God for this engagement. This issue of land conflict has become so rampant among the communities here in Acholi. We are having many cases of arson and murder all the time. We are pleased that the Ministry of Lands, is now bringing a solution,” she said.

The chairperson of Pader cultural leaders forum, Patrick Ogaye, called for “discipline among the communities members even upon obtaining the certificates of communal ownership, which is being issued by the gov’t

(Ministry of Lands) because the Acholi land is an important inheritance which is held in trust for the future generations.”

The technical team from the ministry includes land management experts, physical planners, community laison officials; joined by area land committees in engaging and sensitizing the local communities on the importance of obtaining certificates of communal ownership.

The exercise continues until  March,7 and will cover the eight districts comprising the Acholi Sub- region.

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