Credit: Neil Palmer / CIAT.
Uganda’s economy grew 7 percent annually between 1992 and 2011 -- the third highest rate in sub-Saharan Africa. The country is home to significant natural resources, including fertile land, forests, water resources, minerals, and recently discovered oil and gas reserves. While the contribution of agriculture in GDP is declining (23 percent of GDP in 2011), it continues to employ 65 percent of the Ugandan population, making it a critical arena for innovations to reduce poverty, including through land policies.
Uganda adopted a National Land Policy in February 2013, following more than a decade of consultation and debate. It aims to, “ensure efficient, equitable and optimal utilization and management of Uganda’s land resources for poverty reduction, wealth creation and overall socio-economic development.” It builds upon Uganda’s 1995 Constitution, which grants “every person …a right to own property either individually or in association with others.”
The new National Land Policy also builds on the 1998 Land Act. That Act put in place a legal framework that strongly supports women’s land rights; decentralizes land administration; and establishes land tribunals for the resolution of land-related disputes. Meanwhile, other laws require court orders for evictions and restrict the causes for which a tenant can be evicted. In addition, the National Policy for Internally Displaced Persons (2004) addresses property rights issues affecting some two million people displaced from their homes in northern Uganda during more than 20 years of armed conflict.