April 12, 2024

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Upholding Land Justice: Advocating against Land grabbing in Tororo District – Kaweesa Hope Mulangira

3 min read

Uganda gained its independence on October 9 1962 since then all parts of the country continue to suffer various issues related to land.

In Tororo District, we have witnessed a disturbing trend force full land grabbing, where government-centered people and corporations seize large volumes of lands belonging to poor communities for self-appointed investment and manufacturing purposes.

 This is often through coercive or fraudulent means to valuable people. This practice not only deprives vulnerable communities of their livelihoods and cultural heritage but also exacerbates poverty, inequality, and social unrest.

I have been at the forefront with other colleagues to address this injustice and advocate for an end to land grabbing in Tororo District, ensuring that the rights and well-being of valuable communities are protected and upheld.

The fast-growing Tororo is located in Eastern Uganda, well known for its fertile lands and diverse communities. However, Tororo is now faced with fast urbanization, high population growth, and commercial building interests that have intensified competition for land, leading to conflicts and land grabbing.

 The Poor People, including indigenous groups and smallholder farmers, are disproportionately affected by high rates of land grabbing, as they lack legal protection and resources to defend their land rights due to high legal fees.

The situation on Land grabbing on poor Tororo residents is very dissproprately affecting the most vulnerable Women in the community mostly those that lost their husbands

You can shy away but Land grabbing is disrupting communities’ traditional ways of life, forcing them off their land and depriving them of access to resources essential for their survival, such as food farming, poultry farming, and clean water.

Uganda-sponsored investors mainly allegedly from State House Entebbe often exploit these Valuable communities by offering inadequate compensation for their land or engaging in unfair transactions, undervaluing their land and trapping them in cycles of poverty and dependency.

It should be noted that Land is not merely a commodity that u can easily buy and sell it like tomatoes in a market but a sacred resource intertwined with the cultural identity and heritage of indigenous communities in Tororo and the entire Uganda.

Land grabbing if not seriously tackled by the right-speaking members of the public is threatening to erase centuries-old traditions and practices, undermining the social fabric of these communities.

This practice often involves unsustainable land-use practices, such as deforestation and mining, leading to environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity, further exacerbating the vulnerability of poor communities to climate change and natural disasters.

I call upon fellow activists and say please rise up to strengthen legal protections by advocating for the enactment and enforcement of laws that safeguard the land rights of poor communities, including measures to prevent land grabbing, recognize customary land tenure systems, and ensure fair compensation for land acquisitions.

Just like in other parts of the country, the Land rights organizations must take the central role in empowering the valuable communities through mass sensitization, education, training, and free legal assistance to assert their land rights, participate in urgent decision-making processes, and negotiate equitable agreements with would-be investors in the presence of local leaders.

Taking bold steps without fear to hold perpetrators accountable through demanding accountability from individuals and entities involved in land grabbing through legal recourse, public scrutiny, and international pressure, including sanctions against corporations complicit in human rights abuses must come to its practicability.

We must take central stage in fostering sustainable development and advocate for sustainable land-use practices that prioritize the needs and interests of local communities, promote agroecology, protect ecosystems and ensure the long-term viability of land resources for future generations.

As a land rights advocate, we must build solidarity and coalition movements through fostering alliances among Uganda and world civil society organizations, grassroots movements, academia, and government agencies to amplify the voices of valuable communities, mobilize public support, and advocate for systemic change at local, national, and international levels.

The immediate ending of land grabbing in Tororo District requires concerted efforts to address the underlying causes of injustice, inequality, and marginalization. By advocating for the protection of land rights, promoting community empowerment, and fostering sustainable development, we can uphold justice for poor communities and create a more equitable and inclusive society where land is not a source of conflict but a common heritage to be cherished and shared by all. Let us stand in solidarity with the people of Tororo and join hands in the struggle for land justice.

The writer is a Land Rights Lawyer at Women in the Lead Uganda

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