Government has commenced the exercise of giving out free Certificates of Customary Ownership (CCOs) to residents in Acholi sub-region.
The exercise, led by Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba, kicked off on January 4 in Agago District at a ceremony held at Kalongo grounds in Kalongo Town Council but will spread to other districts.
Hon Nabakooba said the lands ministry has so far processed 10,017 customary titles for 6282 persons in Paimol and Wol Sub-Counties with the male, dominating their female counterparts with 57 percent and the latter 43 percent.
Documentation and titling of family land, individual land, and communal land association is done to create peace in the region, enable families and communities to engage in producing surplus food for sale, knowing that no one will destroy their crops.
“More customary land certificates are to be processed, with the ministry targeting the registration of 275,000 customary land owners throughout the county before 2026,” the minister said at the event in Agago.
The work is implemented by the government of Uganda under the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) Land component with support from the European Union and United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).
DINU is a development initiative implemented in northern Uganda to consolidate stability, eradicate poverty and create foundations for socio-economic development.
Nabakooba revealed that the exercise started as a pilot in three districts Agago, Pakwach, and Maracha and ended but the government is going to continue registering clans and their land.
“I thank the area leaders for mobilizing communities to process customary certificates as a means of resolving the many land conflicts,” she said.
The minister also opened up the newly constructed land registries for greater Paimol and Wol and said she is fulfilling the Land Act which calls for extension of Land registries at the lower local government levels to allow for any land right holders and owners to walk to the office of the recorder to have their interests made known and recorded.
Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo also well graced the occasion and said the land registration would stop land grabbing and land disputes in the region.
“This is an opportunity to save people from paying licenses on their own land,” he said.
He asked the lands minister to engage district leaders to speak to the locals about development and partnering with investors such as Terra Agri Solutions Limited in the Parish to Market project, in which the investor wanted to rent registered customary land.
“Most of these people have no knowledge about development. They therefore need to be sensitised to realise the importance of investors in the development of their communities,” Owiny-Dollo said.
Mr Leonard Ojok, the Agago LCV Chairperson, said they had received reports about unknown people who had forged documents to give land to investors and asked the government to make a follow up and ensure land owners are protected.
“The issue is causing a lot of anger and insecurity in the area. Locals think their land is going to be taken without their notice. The people posing to be members of our area are not known,” he said.
Mr George Otto, a resident of Aringa East village, who heads the Kaluke Katugu family that received their certificate, said they started processing their family land documents in 2020 but the process was delayed by COVID-19. He expressed gratitude for being one of the first beneficiaries.
“I am happy that as a family, we can now do anything productive on our land since we have gained full ownership,” Mr Otto said.
He thanked the government for the opportunity to enable the less privileged to gain full ownership of their land at subsidized rates, noting the whole process cost them only Shs15,000.