National land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation policy in offing

KAMPALA – The government through the Ministry of Land Housing and Urban Development is finalizing the process of drafting the National Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy.

This was disclosed by the Assistant Commissioner, Policy Analysis in the Ministry, Harrisson Irumba, while opening the online and residential two days multi-stakeholders dialogue on responsible investment on land.

The dialogue held in Kampala was organized by German-Ugandan development cooperation (GIZ).

It brought together among other dignitaries, representatives of European Union and GIZ, Development partners, Academia, political and technical officers from both the central and local government.

Irumba, who represented the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Land Housing and Urban Development, Dorcas W.Okalany, said the National Land Acquisitions, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy will provide a framework for land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation of affected persons and communities.

“The policy has been developed taking into account emerging issues and international best practice with regards to land acquisition including acquisition of land for investment purposes,” he said.

According to Irumba, the Ministry is also reviewing the Land Act, Cap 227; Land Acquisition Act, Cap 226; Registration of Titles Act, Cap 230; Survey Act among other laws to reforming a number of laws in the sector to cater for the emerging issues.

“We are also developing new laws such as the Uganda Land Commission law and the Valuation Law. All these laws have an impact on whether land for investment can be accessed, administered and managed,” he said.

Irumba added that the Ministry is also implementing the National Land Information System, which is operational in all our 22 Ministry Zonal Offices (MZOs) across the country.

“With the establishment of Ministry’s Zonal Offices, investors will be able to access land related services and information without going to the ministry headquarters as it used to be, which has improved on efficiency and effectiveness with regard to service delivery,” he stated.

Daniel Kirumira, the GIZ land management specialist said, in partnership with the Ministry of Land Housing and Urban Development, they are implementing the two projects namely; Responsible Land Policy in Uganda Project (RELAPU) and Improvement of Land Governance in Uganda (ILGU).

“The 11.9million Euros (about Shs.52b) Responsible Land Policy Project in Uganda which was operationalized in 2019 and runs up to 2023 is in Teso region in the districts of Soroti and Katakwi in Teso region but also Mityana, Mubende Kasanda and Gomba in the central region,” Kirumira added.

Kirumira explained that the project has operationalized what the National Land Policy and Land laws prescribe as avenues to secure tenure rights of rural communities in Uganda.

According to him, the impact of the projects is noticeable in the benefiting communities.

“Unlike customary land, where there are experiences from where Clearing Corporation of Options (CCOs) had been issued, the GIZ project in Greater Mubende was the first of its kind to document the rights of lawful and bonafide occupants on private Mailo land in Uganda region,” said Kirumira.

He further revealed that the project generated new experiences and lessons that are informing policy decisions in regard to Mailo land tenure in Buganda region.

Samuel Eriaku, the GIZ Technical Advisor said, more than 1,189 free certificates of customary land ownership have so far been issued to the vulnerable households in the four districts of Teso and Lango sub-regions, since the Responsible Land Policy Project Uganda (RELAPU) started in 2016.

“Of the 7,001 pieces of land mapped in Teso (Soroti and Katakwi districts) where the project started in 2016, vulnerable households including the widows and orphans have so far received 1,089 certificates,” said Eriaku.

Dokolo district has 572 pieces of land mapped of which more than 100 certificates have so far been issued since the project kicked off in Lango mid 2019.

Simon Peter Edoru Eku, the LCV Chairperson Soroti district, and the Ministry welcome this new project that is Promoting Responsible Governance of Investments in Land in Uganda.

He pledged to give it all the necessary support that is required during implementation.

“As we heard from the head of the component, the project is for five years, having started in 2019 and will end in 2023. We are almost half way through the project implementation and as leaders, we should support its implementation 100%,” he urged.

He also asked the Ministry to address the challenge of accessing land for investments by the local investors as well as building their capacity in managing the established investments in Uganda.

The responsible investment in land project aims at fostering investments on land that are productive, contribute to sustainable land management and respects the rights and needs of the local population, including vulnerable groups and women.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey Ocan the National Project Manager at Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) underscored the need for the government to ensure that the investment on land should benefit everyone and not only the investors.

He pointed out that there is a need to follow the procedures for land acquisition processes, including resettlement and rehabilitation of affected communities and that the land use rights of the communities need also to be taken into account.

Measures to ensure responsible investment in land.

The government has, however, put in place measures which are policy, legal and administrative in nature to ensure that there is responsible investment on land.

One of such measures is the National Land Policy (2013) as a framework for administering and managing land and land-based resources in Uganda.

The policy also provides reforms geared towards having an efficient and effective land delivery system, which is a basis for poverty reduction, wealth creation and socio-economic transformation of the country.

The policy comprehensively articulates and addresses these and a variety of other land related issues, interests and policy objectives by harmonizing Uganda’s diverse needs for human settlements, economic diversity, production, use and conservation of natural resources.

Above all, the policy has a whole section on access to land for investment and prescribes how investment in land should be done responsibly.

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