Food Rights Alliance Campaign against Land Grabbing Campaign Launch
About the National campaign against Land Grabbing in Uganda
The increased need for large expanses of land by both local and international investors is a common occurrence in Uganda today. Since there is no longer plenty of unoccupied/idle land to the magnitude required by the investors, large scale evictions of the inhabitants in most cases without prior consultations and compensation, leading to landlessness and loss of livelihood sources are some of the consequences. Loss of land does not only lead to hunger, but loss of property, livelihoods, water scarcity and related issues such as children dropping out of schools and social unrest. Above all these incidences are characterized by gross violation of human rights.
That FRA is organizing a national Land Campaign tagged; YOUR LAND, YOUR LIFE, with the aim of stimulating national and local debates on land grabs, amplifying it in the public domain for informed decisions and free consent in land investment and negotiations. It tends to link up land rights work in districts to provide a platform at the national level in order to highlight the plight of the affected communities so that they can obtain the attention of the policy and law makers in addressing these issues. We will profile the stories of evictions and suggest ways in which affected communities can articulate their demands including compensation and resettlement.
Goal of the Campaign launch against Land Grabbing
The campaign goal is to ensure tenure governance in Uganda that supports food security, poverty reduction, sustainable resource use and environmental protection in Uganda. In order to achieve these, the campaign shall be guided by the following objectives:
- To raise awareness among the different sections of society to mount pressure on government, investors and their financiers for reforms in trade and investment practices.
- To evoke change in policy and practice regarding land grabs and land ‘investment’ in the country
Purpose of the prayer breakfast
The purpose of the prayer Breakfast is to bless the FRAs week of Action including the campaign launch. The need to invoke the church fraternity into the campaign is there other reason for the Prayer Breakfast. People who lost their land and Life in the scuffle of defending their land are remembered and prayed.
Speech from Chairperson Uganda Joint Christian Council read by Rev. Fr. Dr. Sylvester Alinaitwe
Uganda Joint Christian Council appreciates Uganda Land Alliance the thematic group on land upon inclusion of the Church in the fight against land grabbing in Uganda. That prayer is a reflection of all that have happened on the poor’s’ land and that nothing can be achieved without taking God first in this campaign. There is a problem because of misusing Land the most important resource given by God. Quotes Gen. 1:9, ‘and God said, let the water under the sky be gathered in one place and ground be different, God called water seas, and ground land’ in his submission, Rev Fr Dr Sylvester Alinaitwe, to quote him,
- Land is the one of the major factors of production; there other being labour and capital. Virtually all major human activities ranging from construction of shelter and roads to agricultural production and sporting events revolve around land.
- The community that make up our country-Uganda- are largely identified with specific land mass or areas they occupy, hence often speak of Acholi, Alur, the Ankole, Buganda, Busoga, Bunyoro, Teso, Toro, etc. Clans are also largely associated with the land. Likewise, Uganda has clear boundaries that are recognized internationally. Any incursion into the territory of Uganda is considered an act of aggression under international law which can lead to war. Land is an important family, community and national asset.
- The constitution of Uganda recognizes four Land tenure systems; Freehold System, Mailo, Leasehold system and customary system. Both the constitution and the Land Act 1998, as amended, guarantee the rights of ownership and occupation of land by land owners and bona fide occupants- who are lawfully settled on the land. The right of a land owner to his or her land is protected. The right of the bona fide occupant is also protected so long as he/she meets statutory obligations including payment of ground rent. The law also provide for prompt and adequate compensation in the event of expropriation of land by the government.
- Despite the existence of laws that protect the rights of the people to land, there have been very many cases of unlawful evictions in the recent past. The evictions have been done without following due process as laid down in the law and have resulted into landlessness and suffering by thousands of Ugandans. There have also been several cases of illegal encroachment which have not spared land belonging to the church. This situation is aggravated by two factors; lack of a national land policy and the absence of a pro poor legal regime that delivers justice to the poor in the speedy manner
- Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) welcomes the ongoing initiative by Civil Society Organizations that has brought together Uganda Land Alliance, Food Right Alliance and UJCC whose main aim are to educate Ugandans on their rights and challenge oppressive systems and structures that have led to unlawful eviction of thousands of Ugandans from lands they have occupied for generations.
- UJCC calls upon the Ugandan Government to revive consultations on the national land policy. UJCC urges government to revive and make District Land Tribunals functional. UJCC argues Government to strict enforcement of the existing laws in order to prevent cruel evictions that have become the order of the day. UJCC calls Government to stamp out the culture of impunity.
- This consultation which has brought together religious leaders and representatives of Civil Society Organizations is a step in the right direction. Ugandans need many more consultations of this nature that offer a platform for learning and exchange of views. The consultations should be broadened, intensified and taken to every corner of this country so that Ugandans can understand their rights and stand up in big numbers to be counted in the struggle for social justice. It is only through a mass movement of like-minded people that the injustices being visited upon the marginalized members of our communities can be defeated.