By Dennis Obbo
EVERY year, the World Bank conference on land and poverty brings together Stakeholders and practitioners to share best practices on the diversity of reforms, approaches and experiences that are being implemented in the land sector around the world.
In the last week of March 2014, the same conference will be held under the theme “Land Governance in the Post-2015 Agenda: Harnessing synergies for implementation and monitoring impact”.
The conference will focus on building a shared understanding of best practices in land governance and will provide an opportunity to strengthen collaboration between diverse experts in land governance.
Uganda will be sharing successes in implementing the new computerised land information system where over 492,000 records have been computerised. The system is now more responsive to the needs and demands of the citizens and business clients and has tremendously eliminated backdoor transactions and forgeries.
The problems which the previous manual system used to face no longer happen. These include: multiple allocations of plots; altering of land title information; unauthorised land allocations; land use abuses; encroachment; and inefficient revenue generation including loss of revenue.
The ministry will also seek to interest development partners to support the implementation of the just approved National Land Policy.
The land sector interventions require enormous effort and investment to undertake the key interventions including improving tenure security over land individuals and institutions, increasing land access and tenure for the poor and vulnerable, improving the management of government and public land, developing capacity for the land administration institutions, resolving land disputes and improve the environment for land governance and increasing the scope and effectiveness of physical and land use planning.
The land policy has all these interventions embedded in it. So, it is on this basis that the government, civil society and development partners have developed an implementation plan that comprehensively presents all of the actions needed for implementation.
The immediate actions that are necessary to roll out the implementation have been identified and agreed upon. These priority actions include regularising and securing the full range of tenure systems provided for in the Constitution, introducing legal and regulatory reforms, carrying out research and studies, including compiling various land inventories; rolling out capacity-building programmes across Government and the private sector; protecting and improving women’s access and secure rights to land, reinstatement of measures to reduce land disputes and conflicts and carrying out institutional reforms required for effective and efficient delivery of land services.
These priorities are linked to other pertinent national policies and plans such as the Vision 2040 and the National Development Plan.
An interim policy implementation unit has been formed under the lands ministry to serve as a catalyst in finalising the policy implementation plan and distilling the actions that will be necessary to implement the policy.
Many of the Vision 2040’s key core projects require that components of the land policy be implemented for these projects to be possible and ultimately successful. Indeed, when identifying needed key strategies and policy reforms, Vision 2040 calls for the land sector to “make land reforms to facilitate faster acquisition of land for planned urbanisation, infrastructure development and agricultural commercialisation, among other developments.”
Many of the tenets set out in the African Union (AU) Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy for Africa and the FAO-facilitated voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries, and forests in the context of national food security are captured.
The vision of the policy is “a transformed Ugandan society through optimal use and management of land resources for a prosperous and industrialised economy with a developed services sector”, which directly evolves from and supports the achievement of Vision 2040’s central vision which is “a transformed Ugandan society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country within 30 years.”
With nearly 80% of land in Uganda falling under customary tenure and not being available for development purposes, it is critical that interventions are supported to assist in the documentation of customary land so that the owners and users are protected and feel secure to make complementary investments.
Writer is the spokesperson for the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development