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Customary Tenure in Uganda


Extracts from The Uganda National Land Policy (Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, 2013):

4.3 Customary Tenure; 38: The majority of Ugandans hold their land under customary tenure.

Policy Statements (39)

  1. The State shall recognise customary tenure in its own form to be at par (same level) with other tenure systems.
  2. The State shall establish a land registry system for the registration of land rights under customary tenure.

Strategies (40): To facilitate the evolution and development of customary tenure in relation to social, economic, political and other factors, Government shall take measures to:

  1. Design and implement a land registry system to support the registration of land rights under customary tenure.
  2. Issue Certificates of Title of Customary Ownership based on a customary land registry that confers rights equivalent to freehold tenure.
  3. Facilitate conversion of customary land which is already privatised and individualised into freehold tenure.
  4. Document customary land tenure rules applicable to specific communities at the district or sub-county levels.
  5. Promote systematic demarcation as a measure to reduce the cost of registering rights under customary tenure.
  6. Make an inventory of common property resources owned by communities and vest these resources in the communities to be managed under their customary law.

Strategies (41): To facilitate the design and evolution of a legislative framework for customary tenure, Government shall:

  1. Amend the Land Act (Cap 227) to permit only individually owned customary land to be converted to freehold.
  2. Amend the Registration of Titles Act (Cap 230) to place customary tenure at par (same level) with other tenure systems.
  3. Modify the rules of transmission of land rights under customary land tenure to guarantee gender equity.
  4. Make provision for joint ownership of family land by spouses.
  5. Recognise the role of customary institutions in making rules governing land, resolving disputes and protecting land rights.
  6. Define family and individual land rights, from communal rights under customary land tenure and distinguish the rights and obligations of customary institutions or cultural leaders on behalf of communities in the name of trustees.

Strategies (42): To strengthen traditional land management and administration institutions, Government will take measures to:

  1. Recognise and enforce decisions of traditional land management institutions by local government and state institutions.
  2. Ensure full judicial backing for traditional institutions as mechanisms of first instance in respect of land rights allocation, land use regulation and land dispute for land under customary tenure.
  3. Ensure that the decisions of traditional land management institutions uphold constitutional rights and obligations with regard to gender equity.
  4. Develop guidelines and procedures under customary land law for the allocation and distribution of land complying with the principles of equality and natural justice.

Ms. Norah Owaraga, CPAR Uganda Ltd Managing Director extracted the text above from the policy that is published in PDF format online.

Photo Credit: Photo of the CPAR Uganda Ltd Loro Base Camp in Oyam District in Northern Uganda taken by Ms. Norah Owaraga, CPAR Uganda Ltd Managing Director