Evaluating the impacts of protecting communal lands and resources & Comparing the impacts of state and customary land justice systems

Land and Equity Movement in Uganda LEMU was started in 2004 with the aim of working to secure land rights under the customary land tenure system as provided for in the 1995 Constitution of Uganda and the 1998 Land Act. LEMU’s initial aspect of focus was family owned land under customary tenure. Recent interest in community land protection was concretised through the launch of the Community Land Protection Project (CLPP) in 2009. Under CLPP, LEMU worked in collaboration with Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) in Liberia and Centro Terra Viva (CTV) in Mozambique – brought together by a funding partner called Namati. These organizations decided to evaluate the impact of community land protection in the three countries. The research in each country is independent at the operational level, but there is always convergence in terms of comparing findings and using it to devise broader recommendations for improving land governance systems at the National levels. In Uganda LEMU proposed to carry out an additional study to compare impact of customary and state land justice systems.

In evaluating community land protection, the study assessed its impact on: leadership and governance; use and access to land and natural resources; land dispute and conflict resolution; empowering the vulnerable groups of persons and social cohesion and sustainability. In evaluating customary and state land justice systems, the study assessed: efficiency; efficacy; positive outcomes and positive roles in land justice.

The study, financed by IDRC, was undertaken by LEMU using an Action Research approach integrated into LEMU’s program implementation, gathering information during the community land protection activities in Lango sub-region and tracking and analyzing land cases of land disputes reported to LEMU offices in Apac, Lira and Soroti. Land cases are categorized into two; those in which LEMU worked with the customary system known as the clans to mediate and those in which LEMU worked with the LC courts and those that later went to magistrates’ courts. All data collected were entered into an online database called Salesforce and analyzed from there.