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14% of Uganda's Land Mass now Belongs to Big Owners - Expert Report

They say that over 14 percent of the total land mass in the country is held under large scale land acquisition. Large scale is land which is at least 200 hectares. This means that all that land is held by a single person or entity.


Nearly a sixth of the entire land surface of the Republic Uganda is owned by "Large" land owners, a report released by experts reveals.

The experts are thus proposing that Uganda restricts the amount of land one can own in order to deal with unequal distribution of land in the Country.

They say that over 14 percent of the total land mass in the country is held under large scale land acquisition. Large scale is land which is at least 200 hectares (500 acres) and this means that all that land is held by a single person or entity.

They recommend that government makes a policy and laws setting the maximum amount of land one can have to curb the excess of exploitative capitalist expansion and speculative land accumulation where one acquires land without a proper plan to put it to use.

The recommendations are based on a study conducted by Human Rights and Peace Center- HURIPEC conducted between December 2019 to September 2020 in which they sought a citizen's perspective on land ownership and capping in the country. The study was conducted in areas of Mubende and Kassanda districts and Bunyoro subregion which includes Hoima, Kiryandongo and Kikuube among others.

Presenting the findings of the study at Mestil Hotel, the Director HURIPEC Dr. Zahara Nampewo said that there is a growing challenge on land ownership where a small percentage of people with money and might continue amassing land at the expense of others.

Dr. Nampewo says they found that access to means of production are affected when land ownership is left to be determined by the forces of demand and supply in a country whose population survives largely on Agriculture. This means that people who cannot afford land cannot engage in agricultural production.

They hence say government should make policy and laws setting a ceiling to ensure that every Ugandan has access to land especially for their livelihood and that the small scale or peasant land owner is protected" she said.

Dr. Rose Nakayi one of the researchers on the study says that in Mubende and Kassanda, people have lost land to rich people especially those with connections in government, members of security agencies and top government officials.

She says that many a time, residents lose their land to buyers without their knowledge because buyers connive some public officials from the Lands offices. This is especially common with land owned on tenant basis where the landlord, without even asking tenants to buy their interests sells the land to another person rendering many homeless.

John Ssenkumba, a researcher from Makerere University says that the challenge with land capping is that it requires one to know where the land is, how much it is and who owns it yet Uganda's land registry is not updated. According to the Ministry of Lands, only 20 percent of land in Uganda has been titled since the colonial times.

However, Ssenkumba says that capping can be done and should be adopted by Uganda.

Fred Muhumuza, also a researcher on land rights from Makerere University says one way land capping can be done is by introducing taxes on land that is underutilized or not utilised at all. This, he says shall eliminate speculators and ensure that one acquires land only when they need it.

Taxation as a method of land capping has been used in Rwanda where the researchers went for benchmarking and reported success on curbing speculators.

Muhumuza says that unless land ownership is regulated, there could be a crisis in future especially with Uganda's growing population.

"Unless we go upwards like Japan, but I don't think we can do that soon. We need to spread out." Said Muhumuza