Why we have interest in protecting land rights
Land is one of the significant productive resources and remains one of the most contentious and essential aspects all over districts in Uganda today. To many people, it’s regarded as a source of political power, cultural identity and further to that it’s used for agriculture by small scale farmers to be able to improve their livelihoods and feed the nation. In most cases, the majority of Uganda’s poor people are rural majorly women whose rights have continued to be trampled upon by the various cultural norms and religious beliefs which are prohibitive to women’s access, control and use of land. Many small scale farmers lack knowledge on the existing laws and policies on land rights and land use management making them very vulnerable to abuse of their rights like land grabbing.
Our Actions in Protecting Land Rights
Since 2013 ESAFF Uganda has been using practical, efficient, and comprehensive approach to address land rights challenges of small-scale farmers primarily through conducting capacity building training to equip farmers with knowledge and skills in addressing some the land rights issues in their communities; organizing advocacy meetings with different stakeholders in communities and at national levels to influence for favourable policies and laws; and carrying out media campaigns on land rights especially for women and documenting cases.
Enabling Voices, Demanding Rights tool
Due to the increasing trend of land dispossession from small scale farmers mostly women by private and public large-scale land investors in the northern region. This is worsened by low capacity on land laws and policies that has left the rights of women and other farming communities vulnerable to abuses over their rights through grabbing, displacements and evictions by the so called investors. ESAFF Uganda is implementing a practical-innovative tool to help men and women in rural areas position themselves to engage meaningfully throughout the investment processes and stages for a win-win engagements that will protect rural women from exploitation, land grabs and unfair settlements. ESAFF Uganda uses the Enabling Voices, Demanding Rights tool to empower rural women and men to build readiness to engage meaningfully in land related investment in their communities. As a result, teams are instituted to champion the promotion of land registration and participation in the land rights conflict resolution committees, engaging district and community leaders on land issues, referring land related cases to the informal and formal land administration bodies such as Area Land Committee (ALC).
Farmer Field Schools (FFS)
ESAFF Uganda established farmer field schools to improve access to Plant Genetic resources (PRG). ESAFF Uganda has so far established two farmer field school schools in Amuria district and further establishing more in Apac, Gulu and Adjumani district. The FFS empowers small-scale farmers through field based experiential learning, it enables small-scale farmers to make their own observations and analyse these observations then use the results as a basis for conclusions and decision making. Small-scale farmers are involved in deciding the days of the meeting, identifying land for the school, formulated their leadership, set the bye-laws and breaches, set breeding objectives among others. Each school consists of 30 members and 6 subgroups. Through FFS, small-scale farmers have engaged in breeding their own seeds hence improving the local varieties through Participatory Variety Selection focusing on selection of best traits. Small-scale farmers will soon start Participatory Variety Enhancement and later Participatory Variety Development. Small-scale farmers carry out agro-ecosystems analysis of the field where they observed and record.
Gender Action Learning Systems (GALS) in Land Rights Model
Land rights of farmers majorly women have continued to be frustrated by cultural norms and beliefs prohibiting women to access and control over productive resources. ESAFF Uganda developed a Land Rights Model using Gender Action Learning Systems (GALS). The GALS in Land Rights Model involves the use of GALS tools to address land rights issues among small scale farmers in communities. The model is a community-led approach that enhances inclusion and small scale farmers taking the lead in the managing role of their land rights issues in the community. The model is supportive in developing action learning skills of vulnerable women and men in land rights and land-related issues to implement strategies for improving livelihoods, gender equality and decision making power. The principal objective of the model is to improve agricultural production of small scale farmers through secure access, control and ownership of land as a productive resource in farming communities by both women and men.
The GALS in Land Rights Model has contributed to the promotion of collaboration and respect between various actors and farmers for gender equitable access, control and ownership of land resources. Communities especially women have reported improvement in agricultural production as a result of increased access, control and ownership of land as a productive resource in farming communities. ESAFF Uganda will continue promoting a more systematic and practical approach small scale farmers and other relevant stakeholders in addressing land rights challenges among communities and by developing win-win strategies which reinforce the positive changes like security of land rights and economic development among vulnerable groups.
Influencing land and land-investment policies
ESAFF Uganda is engaged in reshaping land governance policies through designing campaigns and influencing policies like the Land Act – Amendment, Draft Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation policy and Land Acquisition Bill among others. ESAFF Uganda has also built strong collaboration with Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (MLHUD) and other actors in the land sector. Our work with the Ministry and other actors has led to the adoption of policy propositions, development of ordinances at district level among others.
Creating awareness on women land rights
Women land rights are still under threat because of bad cultural norms and poor implementation of policies. ESAFF Uganda creates and provides platforms for dialogue and massive community awareness on land governance policies and laws, mining and extractives, access to justice to enhance effectiveness and accountability in the delivery of land services leading to securitization of women land rights. To further create awareness, ESAFF Uganda prints and distributes posters on land related issues in different districts in Uganda. ESAFF Uganda also produces videos on land related issues and organizes community viewing in different districts. ESAFF Uganda also uploads the videos on YouTube Channel and other social media pages.