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USAID SAFE_Land Rights Handbook

USAID-Supporting Access to Justice, Fostering Equity and Peace (USAID-SAFE) commissioned the development of this Handbook as part of its objective to strengthen Government of Uganda’s (GoU) capacity with respect to peace building and conflict mitigation.

This initiative is part of efforts to provide assistance, training and capacity building for Local Government structures, District Land Boards, Area Land Committees, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and established traditional/community based dispute resolution mechanisms to mitigate conflict relating to land while taking into account the Program’s cross cutting themes of youth, gender, population, anti-corruption and oil production.

This handbook is intended for use mainly by CSOs and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) to provide legal assistance related to land issues in the SAFE Program‟s target districts, but other aforementioned institutions can also use it.

It is written in plain terms to the greatest extent possible given the nature of the subject matter, for ease of use by its target users in CSOs and CBOs. The Handbook contains a historical background to the land tenure systems, the characteristics and modes of acquisition of the different land tenure systems; including issues of compulsory acquisition and compensation, land rights protection for different categories of persons ranging from women to ethnic minorities in Uganda and the different forms of land transactions.

The Handbook also looks at the land administration system in Uganda and it provides a number of sample forms that can be easily utilized by CSOs and CBOs to assist the communities in which they work. It is hoped that CSOs and CBOs will use it to resolve and mitigate conflicts relating to land in a manner that shows sensitivity to the cross-cutting themes of gender, youth, population, anti-corruption and oil production.

This Handbook was developed in a participatory manner by consulting with Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development Officials, and District Land Officials across the twenty districts where SAFE‟S programs target. Oil companies operating in Uganda and a cross section of CSOs that work on land issues in Uganda were also consulted. Existing Land Rights Handbooks and other related materials that were readily available were reviewed, adapted and acknowledged. Accordingly, this Handbook builds on, and attempts to harmonize existing efforts that have been made in this area.
This Handbook can be adapted and modified to suit a number of aims:

  • It may be used by CSOs and CBOs as a resource book to provide legal services to individuals and communities seeking to enforce their land rights.
  • It may be used to train Community Legal Volunteers and others on Land Rights in Uganda.
  • It may be used as a day-to-day reference guide by CSOs and CBOs working on land rights in Uganda.

SAFE intends that this Handbook should be used hand-in-hand with the Program‟s Community Legal Volunteers Manual, which contains detailed information on Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms, and land justice including formal and informal mechanisms. It is therefore suggested that users familiarize themselves with both the Manual and the Handbook.