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Apr 2013 09

Land conflicts in the Acholi sub-region: learning what we can do to help

Posted in News

By Nicole Söller

Land has always had important value in Acholiland and, unfortunately, has increasingly become a source of conflict in the region.

Especially the massive resettlement process, which followed the 2006 ceasefire agreement, triggered more and more disputes over land due to different reasons. To date, more than 97% of the 1.8 million internally displaced and formerly abducted people have returned to their places of origin or have settled in other areas. However, many individuals and communities had to face various challenges upon return; amongst others, disputes over land. They often constitute a major obstacle in the return and reconciliation process in northern Uganda.

For this reason, GRG recently assessed to what extent GRG group members are currently involved in land disputes. We wanted to find out who the conflicting parties are, the major conflict causes, and, if necessary, how GRG could support them in finding peaceful solutions to their disputes.

While all interviewed groups stated that they are currently involved in land disputes in one way or the other, they differed regarding whether the dispute was addressed at the community-level or if it was between individuals.

Four of the seven interviewed groups highlighted that they mainly experience land disputes at the community level. They include the communities Ayuu Alali, Paracele, and Padwat; in all of which different GRG groups are located. It is important to mention at this point that land disputes are often very complex and difficult to resolve. Some GRG group members mentioned development of trading centers, others saw individualizing land by another community that migrated to indigenous communities’ land from South Sudan as the main reasons for this land dispute. However, the above mentioned communities seemed to be well organized. After a failed attempt of finding a solution via community dialogue, the matter was taken to the LC3 (government official at the sub-county level), as well as the elders/rwodi (traditional authorities) of the respective communities. Currently, the outcome of the elder’s meeting is eagerly awaited by the ones involved in the land dispute. GRG is looking forward to their decision and to the different groups’ reactions to it.

Beside this land dispute at the community-level, five GRG groups reported of some cases of land disputes within families. On two occasions, these conflicts were even between GRG group members.

The development of trading centers, jealousy and poverty, and unsure boundaries were some of the main causes that triggered conflicts within families, according to the members. They stated that the conflicts started about 3 years ago, since the return process from the IDP camps.

As a result of these needs assessments – and in collaboration with the groups, local leaders, and traditional institutions – we have developed a training methodology to provide group members with valuable information on land rights and procedures in order to ensure peaceful resolutions of current and future disputes. This will be implemented in the coming weeks, and we’ll report back about what transpires!

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