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The Mandate

In my area land rights violations and abuse have escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Abusers have taken the weak structure and desperate situation communities are experiencing as an opportunity for exploitation. Land grabbing and displacement is prevalent in communities and institutions that have not formalised their ownership (such as the church). If the churches are also erased, what remains in the social and moral fabric of society that will hold it together for future generations?

The customary land system is challenged by the modern convention of recognised title deeds.

Leaders in Northern Uganda have held the mantle and mandate of the land through the customary land tenure system for generations. Unfortunately, the customary land system is challenged by the modern convention of recognised title deeds. These do not seem practical at the moment for the custodians of the land. While the occupants and custodians would wish to have the legal land deeds, economic inability hinders them. People also don’t believe in the notion of investing in a resource owned by everybody. “Hence what belongs to everybody belongs to none”.  Collective ownership with varied economic capacities is challenging.

Collective ownership through the communal land tenure system is being overridden by socio-economic pressure and increasing population demands. This is escalated by the increased moral degradation among leaders who are supposed to hold dearly to ethical values.  The once cherished traditional system of providing justice is now weakened by eroded social values and multiple effects of globalization.

The political influence and reality of greed affects marginalized people in society.

The impact of urbanization on the land tenure system when the Indigenous people live but do not have title is challenging especially when investors displace people. Investors have used the Indigenous peoples’ land through the out-grower farming system through growing crops which have a sole buyer. The sole buyer is the investor. For instance, tobacco and sugarcane growing is done by peasant farmers who invest a lot of their time to the extent of not having enough food for household use. These are meager benefits compared to the investor who gains the use of their labour and land without fair payment.

The inheritance of property such as land was always protected in a communal system. However, the political influence and reality of greed affects marginalized people in society. This includes women, widows and children. Land is rarely owned by women especially in an African setting. Having access to  land without shared responsibility and ownership can deprive the women of their basic human rights and development. This is even worse for the orphan children who may not have godfathers to defend their rights. 

At World Renew we turn to biblical principles for our mandate. 

Impoverishment due to materialism in society has raised the level of vulnerability and exploitation of the poor.  Their needs succumb to the interest of the rich persons. The financial and economic influences make the custodians vulnerable to corruption, that erodes the ownership of the land.

While not everyone has the financial capacity, there are sometimes members of the family who would wish to secure the land with use of their own resources for and on behalf of the clan. Unfortunately, failure to get consensus and approval halts the process. This consequently affects the legal status of the clan property. Inevitably, due to ignorance coupled with greed, there are land wrangles, discord and loss of property and lives. 

At World Renew we turn to biblical principles for our mandate.  Through gender justice, trauma healing and peace building interventions in partnership with the local church leadership has supported initiatives that restored harmony, rebuilt relationships and challenged the status-quo in society to improve livelihood. The Micah mandate reminds us, “What does the Lord require you to do? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8

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