By Israel Bionyi Nyoh, Communications Specialist Africa, International Land Coalition Africa
Uganda has new combat gear – and it’s not going to be used to tear down homes and destroy lives. Instead it will arm the country with a platform to fight for land rights, peace and justice, and comes in the form of the latest Land Matrix-supported National Land Observatory (NLO). Indeed, with growing concerns on how to protect people’s rights as markets move to rural areas where tenure is largely undocumented and governed by fragile customary tenure systems, the establishment of the Uganda NLO could not be more timely.
Launched during the National Land Forum in Uganda earlier this month, the platform will enable the country to monitor large-scale land acquisitions and protect property rights by generating, analysing and sharing data, knowledge and information, and promoting evidence-based and inclusive decision-making over land resources.
Equitable access to land and securing tenure for all members of society are key features of Uganda’s National Land Policy, and principles the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development believes can be achieved via data. However, although the country has certainly made significant progress since the government set out to design and deliver a National Land Information System (NLIS) to document and govern the land in 2013, the process is ongoing and there are still infrastructural and technological challenges to overcome.
While hopes rest on the NLIS to undo scores of land-related conflicts in the country, the Uganda NLO can help close some of these gaps, together with its partners, including the Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Uganda; ActionAid Uganda; Africa Centre for Media Excellence; UN Pulse Lab-Kampala; Land, Equity Movement in Uganda (LEMU); Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU); Southern and the Eastern African Trade, Information Negotiations Institute (SEATINI); Coalition of Pastoralist Civil Society Organisations (COPACSO); and LANDnet.
Uganda is the third country to launch a NLO in Africa with technical and financial support from the Land Matrix. Along with the NLOs in Cameroon and Senegal, it will initiate decentralised tasks and strive for more inclusive participation of local partners in collecting, managing, and reviewing land data, thereby promoting transparency and accountability in decision-making processes over land and investments and facilitating policy influence at national level.
Are you interested in establishing a National Land Observatory in your country? Or are you part of an independent land governance structure or initiative that could benefit from our support? If so, get in touch with the Land Matrix!
ILC Africa is a regional platform of the International Land Coalition (ILC), a global alliance of civil society and intergovernmental organisations working together to promote secure and equitable access to and control over land for poor women and men through advocacy, dialogue, knowledge-sharing, and capacity-building. ILC is a member of the Land Matrix steering committee and technical team, and supports and facilitates decentralisation and linkages with global, regional, and national policy processes, as well as opportunities of engagement with other ILC members.