This past week, social media in Uganda has been on fire. Women in Soroti in North-Eastern Uganda publicly stripped naked in protests of a move to grab their land in the name of ‘development’.
Some condemned the actions of the women as backward, barbaric, etc., the usual insensitivity which does not accommodate the root causes of land conflict in Uganda. Others, me inclusive, thought otherwise.
In my view, until one has faced injustice that threatens their livelihood and home, one should be careful to judge the actions of those who feel thus threatened.
How have we come to the point that we are pushed to protest in such a manner?
In 2012, I authored a backgrounder on Uganda’s land tenure system which highlighted and demonstrated how Uganda’s dualist land tenure system is a root cause of conflict over land use and ownership. The current land tenure laws facilitate land alienation, threaten livelihoods and contribute to food insecurity.
Given the nature of land disputes in Uganda, reform is needed to move forward and develop a land tenure system that works for the country.
Examples of different models from other countries, like China, may offer inspiration for an improved system in Uganda.
The discussions in my backgrounder are even more relevant in today’s Uganda.