The Responsible Land Policy project (RELAPU) is being implemented in the two districts
Land conflicts are expected to reduce in Teso sub region after the German government and the Lands Ministry has come in to resolve land disputes and demarcate land in Soroti and Katakwi Districts.
The German International Cooperation (GIZ) in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, including local governments as well as Ateker Women Land Rights Partners (AWOLARIP) is implementing the Responsible Land Policy project (RELAPU) in the two districts.
They are using the systematic approach of land demarcation where boundary trees known locally as Ejumula and Eligoi are planted with the guidance of a tape measure and a machine.
Samuel Eriaku working with GIZ Soroti office said the project aims "to improve access to land as a key precondition for poverty and hunger reduction in rural areas for certain population groups, especially for women and marginalized groups, in Eastern and Central Uganda."
Eriaku said the project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) for a period of five years and eight months (from March 1st 2016-October 30th, 2021).
He said the partners of RELAPU have so far managed to map about 1,825 land parcels which translate in an area of 4347.15 hectares being mapped and prepared for customary land documentation. The demarcated hectares belong to 1,649 households in Katine Sub County in Soroti District and Omodoi Sub-County in Katakwi.
Zeno Pack the project manager RELAPU Soroti said the implementation of the project is still ongoing and being scaled up to Asuret and Tubur Sub-Counties in Soroti and Omodoi in Katakwi. This makes a total of five Sub-Counties to be covered by RELAPU.
According to Zeno, the project targets to support 5,000 households especially rural farmers to map their land in Teso.
"In the project, customary land rights are documented using modern equipment and approaches which makes this easier and faster. Subsequently, a social document containing information about the parcel and the owners will be issued by the project. If households are interested they can use this information to apply for a formal Certificates of Customary Ownership (CCO)," he said.
AWOLARIP, a consortium of partners are raising awareness in the communities and resolving alternative disputes through mediation always before demarcation kick-starts.
Dinah Onyait, the monitoring and evaluation officer Teso Anti-Corruption Coalition (TAC) said they have managed to resolve over 90 per cent of the land cases in the demaracated hectares.
John William Anyau, the Chairperson Soroti District Land Board said the project is timely because he has been receiving over two cases of land wrangles weekly.
According to Anyau, the land conflicts have reduced since the project came in to support rural communities in the last three years.
Girigori Mikairi Egunyu, the district LC-V Chairperson Soroti said they will find a peaceful way of solving problems incase land conflicts arise even after demarcation.
This was disclosed during the familiarization visit of the stakeholders at Katine sub county project on Wednesday.
The minister of Lands in Iteso Cultural Union (ICU) Stephen Enokokin said they are trying out this exercise then all Iteso will be encouraged to demarcate their land using the same approach if it works out.
Jimmy Alani, the ICT Officer Lands Ministry said surveying has been privatized and is now based on individual basis how someone can handle.
Alani said this survey is very affordable for anyone that is around Sh15, 000 compared to when one gets a surveyor to do it expensively as high as over sh500,000.
This kind of systematic demarcation is happening in Kasese supported by Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), UN Habitat in Pader, Adjumani and Kabale as well as Nwoya district supported by Zoa Uganda.
The Soroti outgoing Resident District Commisioner (RDC), Isaac Kawooya said this GIZ demarcation will be successful unlike the Kamuda sub county systematic land demarcation which hit a snag after the lands ministry failed to give enough sensitization to the locals a few years ago.
Kawooya and Kambuzu asked GIZ to role out the program to the entire district and Teso as a whole so that cases of land conflicts reduce in the sub region.