Research Report

Land Tenure under Transition: Tenure Security, Land Institutions and Economic Activity in Uganda

Helle Munk Ravnborg
Bernard Bashaasha
Rasmus Hundsbæk Pedersen
Rachel Spichiger
Alice Turinawe
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2013
Pages: 93
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 4-15)

    At the time of finalizing the present report, the Cabinet of Uganda is discussing a draft for a new National Land Policy. The draft Land Policy builds upon the Constitution of Uganda (1995) which guarantees every person a right to own property either individually or in association with others. The 1995 Constitution was the first official document ever to recognise customary tenure – the predominant land tenure form in Uganda. In addition to customary tenure, three other tenure forms are officially recognized in Uganda, namely mailo, leasehold and freehold tenure. A brief description of these tenure forms is provided in...

  2. (pp. 16-36)

    Land tenure is under transition in Uganda. Several factors contribute to this process of transition. Among these are:

    policy and administrative interventions such as the on-going efforts to promote freehold tenure, e.g. by facilitating the gradual conversion of customary tenure into individualised, freehold tenure by offering the issuing of certificates of customary tenure or the efforts to strengthen the tenure security of kibanja tenants vis-à-vis the mailo land owners;

    oil discoveries and the associated need to reallocate land;

    a growing interest in land investments both as a means of savings (e.g. in the case of capital generated elsewhere – and...

  3. (pp. 37-49)

    Rather than any absolute feature of land tenure, such as holding a land title, it is the land right holder’s perception of land tenure security – or insecurity – which makes him or her decide e.g. whether to undertake long-term land improvement investments (Migot-Adholla et al., 1991; Broegaard, 2008).

    As part of our questionnaire survey, we asked respondents how secure they perceived themselves to be with respect to each of the up to three parcels about which they provided information. The answers to this question are summarised in Table 3.1. The table shows that tenure security is widespread. Tenure security...

  4. (pp. 50-54)

    At the same time as being the area where the perception of tenure security is most widespread, Amuru is also the area where land disputes are most prevalent and where the largest proportion of the respondents reports to have lost land during the last 10 years (Table 4.1).

    Given recent events in northern Uganda, these findings hardly come as a surprise and correspond well to reports from the literature (Burke and Egaru, 2011; Rugadya, 2006; Rugadya, 2008). The fact that hundreds of thousands of people left the IDP camps following the cease-fire agreement from 2006 to settle on land which...

  5. (pp. 55-64)

    A large proportion of the respondents in Masaka and Pallisa has undertaken agricultural investments on their land during the past five years (Table 5.1). The majority of these investments are labour intensive,55 whereas investments that are both labour and capital intensive, such as the establishment of irrigation etc.,56 are less common (Table 5.2). In the wake of the cease-fire agreement in 2006, people in Amuru have been in the process of ‘moving back and settling in’, i.e. (re)constructing their houses and opening up their land. This probably contributes to explain that during the past five years, agricultural investments (apart from...

  6. (pp. 65-70)

    Tenure security is widespread in the three study areas. Overall, tenure is perceived to be ‘secure’ with respect to half of the parcels included in the survey while being perceived as ‘not that secure’ with respect to less than 10 per cent, leaving the tenure of the remaining close to 40 per cent of the parcels to be perceived as ‘somewhat secure’. However, the fact that tenure is currently perceived to be secure does not preclude that land tenure may be lost, e.g. to outside investors. The numerous press reports of land grabbing and land conflicts, not least in the...