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Luweero Women Decry Rampant Land Grabbing

In Luweero district, more than 300 women occupying part of 1,208 hectares belonging to Mbaale Central forest reserve in Luweero district say they have nothing to celebrate due to the planned eviction and harassment by officials of National Forestry Authority-NFA.
08 Mar 2019 17:05
Police officers clearing Kikyusa-Wobulenzi road which was blocked in land protests recently

Audio 3

Hundreds of women in rural areas of Luweero and Nakaseke districts say they have little to celebrate on Women’s day over the rampant land grabbing.

Today Uganda joined the World to celebrate the International Women’s Day under the theme "Empowering Women through Innovative Approaches to Social Protection: A Pre-requisite for Inclusive and Sustainable Development”. The National function is organized in Bunyangabu district.

In Luweero district, more than 300 women occupying part of 1,208 hectares belonging to Mbaale Central forest reserve in Luweero district say they have nothing to celebrate due to the planned eviction and harassment by officials of National Forestry Authority-NFA.

NFA issued an eviction ordering all people to vacate forest reserve to pave way for tree planting. They have since deployed youths to clear the land for tree planting.

Betty Kabira an affected resident says that her husband inherited the land from his father who settled there in 1900’s with recognition of past governments but they were surprised NFA to claim ownership of the land.

Kabira adds that because of the threats by NFA, they are no longer farming and the family is facing food shortage.

Jane Ndagire another affected woman says that she was born on the land in 1970's and has nowhere to go if she is evicted by NFA.

Jane Namusisi accuses officials of NFA and policemen for cutting down her plantation to force her off the land.

The women argue that without land rights there is nothing to celebrate today.

Vox Pop (Luganda)

// Cue in: “Nze nina abaana….

Cue out;…bebali ne mu mirembe”//.

The affected residents petitioned Sam Cheptoris the Minister of Water and Environment to intervene in the matter but he is yet to respond. Earlier on Minister Cheptoris said he will meet local leaders before resolving the matter.

Phoebe Namulindwa the Luweero Resident District Commissioner says that apart from the case, she receives cases on daily basis where family members are also grabbing land from women especially when the husband dies.

Namulindwa says that some are also unable to claim land rights because the marriages are not registered with Uganda Registration Service Bureau.

Cue in: “ You realize…

Cue out;…with husband”//

// Cue in: “n’ekiletera abakyala…

Cue out;….mu baana”//.

Cases of land grabbing have been repeatedly reported with some culminating into conflict and violence in communities in the district. Women have been reported as the major victims of land grabbing.

In Nakaseke district, Rebecca Nanyonga says that she bought a piece of land at Mizimbo village in 2017 from the money which her husband who is on peacekeeping mission in Somalia sent her.

Nanyonga says that unfortunately the piece of land had conflicts and they lost it together with the money. Nanyonga adds that they were also threatened before they gave up the land.

Lydia Nalukenge another resident of Kyasampanga village in Kikamulo sub-county, Nakaseke says that even the courts have not helped women against land grabbers.

Nalukenge says that her mother Jane Nambi is languishing in Butuntumula prison after Luweero magistrate court sentenced her to six months in jail over trespass on land which was given to her by deceased son Charles Ssebina. 

Nalukenge says that the convict was not given fair hearing because she was poor. When reached, Luweero Chief Magistrate Sam Munobe said the family of jailed woman can seek redress from high court if they think the judgement was not fair. 

However, the family is poor to hire a lawyer to pursue the case leaving the jailed 70-year-old Nambi to serve the sentence.

Cases of women embroiled in land cases are many in the districts and as the Uganda celebrates the Women's Day, the victims have asked government to enforce laws that protect them against eviction.

Ugandan statutory law recognizes customary ownership of land and women's rights to land. These principles were included the 1995 Constitution and the 1998 Land Act. But access to these land rights is still a challenge, especially to rural women.

In its report, the Dynamics of Conflict on women’s rights to land under customary tenure: Effectiveness of legislation” the Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) say there is need for increased access to legal services especially for women who are being overlooked and are at risk of marginalization.

 

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