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Equity Movement Calls for Community Sensitization on Land Rights in Karamoja :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Equity Movement Calls for Community Sensitization on Land Rights in Karamoja

Dr Doreen Kobusingye, the co-principal investigator at LEMU says that it is never too late to organize the communities and empower them with legal approaches to protecting their land and avert those who seek to exploit people and their environment.
Karimojong Elders during the Inter clan peace meeting
The Land and Equity Movement in Uganda (LEMU), an organisation working to uphold and secure the land rights of the most vulnerable people in Uganda, has called for more sensitization of communities in Karamoja to enable them to achieve economic growth.

According to LEMU, the communities in Karamoja are not well versed with land rights and policies that govern land ownership and usage, an issue that has contributed to the high non-compliance of mining companies that have acquired land for investment.

Dr Doreen Kobusingye, the co-principal investigator at LEMU says that it is never too late to organize the communities and empower them with legal approaches to protecting their land and avert those who seek to exploit people and their environment. She adds that the population in Karamoja should meaningfully gain from all investments in their land.

Kobusingye noted that a survey they conducted in Tapac sub-county unveiled complaints about the lack of compensation for land that is already being used for mining. She also expressed dismay at the ongoing degradation of the environment by mining companies that are increasingly cutting trees and digging pits to get to the mineral deposits.

Kobusingye said the communities should be trained on basic concepts of law so that they can negotiate fairly with the companies interested in their lands.

John Robert Adupa, the LCIII chairperson of Lotisan Sub County in Moroto district noted that the few elites in the communities have also taken advantage of the Majority's ignorance to grab the land. Adupa noted that the situation is worsened by the investors who abuse government protocol to take huge chunks of community land in the name of development.

‘’When these investors come, they convince our people with empty promises and thereafter block their access to the land without compensation,’’ Adupa said, adding that there is a dire need to collectively embark on community sensitization so that they understand what belongs to them and how to gain out of it.

Simon Nangiro, the Chairperson of Karamoja Elder Association observed a need to tighten the terms and conditions of leasing communal land to the investors because many have gained profits while the owners are left in extreme poverty.

Nangiro feared that the times ahead could be tougher because international investors are in the process of opening up big companies in the region. He said the investors may use money to convince people to sell their land yet the population is also increasing per day.

‘’I know the big investors are coming with a lot of money to convince our people, and because of hunger in the region they will be taking any amount that will be offered, and this is dangerous because our population is also increasing. Where will our children go,’’ Nangiro lamented.

Nangiro emphasized that they are designing programs to start community engagements to educate them on how best they can guard their land against the grabbers or being lured with little money in exchange for land.

He also warned the community against selling their land to investors but instead, consider leasing it out so that they can claim it back when the lease period elapses or if the terms are violated.

Emmanuel Loiki, the councillor representing Rupa Sub County in Moroto District Council noted that several people had sold off their land cheaply to the developers before the land committee established an organized body that handles land matters.

Loiki said as a Sub-county, they formed Rupa Community Development Trust (RUCODET) to deal with land matters management on behalf of the people. He said that the association has helped in regulating companies buying land at the sub-county and fighting illegal acquisition of land without proper procedures.

In 2022, the community in Rupa sub-county Moroto district struggled to recover over 500 acres of land they offered to a missionary for the establishment of an orphanage in 2007. The community claimed that they offered land that was estimated to be about a hundred acres but not 500 as purported by the missionary