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Protecting the Rights to Customary Land in Northern Uganda (Video transcript)

Piloting the protection of rights to customary land ownership in Acholi Land (Uganda). A research project developed by The Joint Acholi Sub Leader's Forum (JASLF). Implemented by Trócaire. Funded by the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF).

Paimol Sub-County, Agago District, Northern Uganda


For more than 2 decades, Northern Uganda was embroiled in a civil war. As a result, more than one and a half million people were displaced, mainly in the Acholi Region of Northern Uganda. Anthony from Paimol Sub- County was one of them.

Voice of Elder Anthony Oyoo, Council to the Chief Committee

During the civil war, we ran, we left our land and we went to the camp and the land was left. We go and gather in the camp. We leave the land and after that when we came out from the camp, we went back to our former place. Some people were entering in the land that did not belong to them.

Voice of Dr. Fr. Joseph Okumu, Chairperson for the Technical Committee of JASLF

This project came following the return of the people from squalid camps, displacement camps to their homes after the signing of the cease fire between the rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda in 2007.

Voice of Dorcas Apio, Project Coordinator

I would say that in Uganda, Land Grabbing has been seen to be a practice where an individual wants to get the land which is not hers or her household is claiming land that is not theirs or another tribe is coming to claim the land for the people of Acholi and they say that it is theirs.

Voice of Fr. Joseph Oyoo

70% of the land is Uganda is held communally and customarily.

Voice of Dorcas Apio

You see, land in Acholi is very fertile. It is very productive and everyone is getting interested.

Voice of Fr. Joseph Oyoo

The Acholi leadership- religious, cultural institution leadership, the local Governments- elected and appointed - met together and set up a forum, a forum that would address issues, disputs and conflict over land.


After the analysis, we will begin the dissemination of the findings from the 7 landholdings and inform the participating communities and stakeholders of our findings. Then in the second phase we will look at the best practices on the protection of rights of customary land ownership.

Voice of Dorcas Apio

The research has three objectives. First we want to investigate and document how Acholi Customary land is used, is managed, is administered for who and by who and this is going to be across seven selected clans in Acholi. Secondly, we want to look at the legal precedent at local and international level. What does it say about the land in Acholi and the best way it can be used to protect the land in Acholi and lastly, the findings from the two researches objective one and two - we hope to marry it and use it more in objective three where we hope to disseminate it and share the findings with the people as broad as possible from local to international to global level.

Voice of James Latigo, Research Coordinator

In all the seven districts in Acholi, we identified one chiefdom as our research site and that enabled us to recruit for team researchers- seven male and seven female and two of them were posted to each of the sites after undergoing a very detailed and tailored training to manage this research project.

Voice of Helen Okello, Researcher

We had four categories. We had the clan holdings focus discussion group and then the special interest group and then the key informer and then the households.

Voice of Fr. Joseph Okumu

We think that this is a project that is not only going to help the people in Northern Uganda but also to help the rest of the country that hold land communally and customarily.

Voice of Dorcas Apio

We see the project as being very important to the people of Acholi because it is a sensitive issue - land. It is on land that the people of Acholi in the past, today and tomorrow, have as their source of livelihood so when you touch land in Acholi you are touching their life directly and the person most affected is a women and a child and that is also what this project will look at.


Camera: Lisa Byrne
Video Editor: Katja Lenart

Video: Protecting the Rights to Customary Land in Northern Uganda