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Lands minister: 70% of Uganda’s land remains unregistered

According to the minister most of the land in Uganda is unregistered

According to the minister most of the land in Uganda is unregistered

About 70 per cent of land in most developing economies, including Uganda, remains unregistered and undocumented, causing tenure insecurity risks, affecting land authorization, and leading to poor socio-economic outcomes and underdevelopment, according to Lands minister Judith Nabakooba.

“Insecure land tenure is a fundamental barrier for every nation in overcoming pressing challenges such as poverty, hunger, urbanization, conflict, climate change, violence over land, and lack of economic opportunities to transform people’s lives,” she said.

Nabakooba emphasized that land remains a major factor of production critical for transforming people from poverty and unemployment to social development. She noted that with over 70 per cent of Uganda’s population engaged in agriculture, which contributes 24 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), secure land tenure is essential for economic growth.

“Uganda’s population growth rate is high, estimated at three per cent, leading to increased demand for land. This has resulted in many land conflicts, such as land grabbing and inequalities, which call for urgent action to enhance security for property rights,” she said.

Nabakooba made these remarks recently at the Land Learning Week held at Speke Resort Munyonyo. The event, which brought together more than 100 participants from 35 countries, aimed to promote partnerships between governments and civil society organizations in land development and to find solutions to land-related challenges.

Nabakooba stated that the learning week is timely, as millions of people, communities and businesses, particularly in developing economies, grapple with protecting land rights, which are crucial for their livelihoods. Uganda has four land tenure systems: mailo land, freehold, leasehold, and customary freehold, but only 30 per cent of Uganda’s land is registered under these systems, according to Nabakooba.

She emphasized the government’s efforts to address land challenges through policies, legal reforms, and institutions aimed at protecting land rights. This includes establishing 24 ministry zonal offices to decentralize land governance and administration, and developing land information systems to improve land management and access to information.

Nabakooba noted that only 27 per cent of land in the country is surveyed and titled, leading to widespread land disputes, conflicts and evictions. To address these challenges, the government has implemented systematic land demarcation and certification projects, ensuring that no one is left behind.

These models, based on pilot projects by civil society organizations (CSOs), consider environmental and social inclusion issues. President Museveni, in a speech delivered by Vice President Rtd. Maj. Jessica Alupo, highlighted that registering land is a crucial step in safeguarding it and reducing land disputes.

“Government should be mindful and protect their citizens from land evictions, which adversely affect the majority and most vulnerable categories of owners and users,” Museveni said.

He stressed the importance of land governance in ensuring certainty of land ownership, which fosters social cohesion by enabling citizens to identify and recognize land owners and user rights. Museveni explained that evictions cause socio-political instability, tenure insecurity,
and landlessness. He called for land governance interventions to ensure security of tenure through open and transparent identification and mediation processes.

Alupo pointed out that only 30 per cent of Uganda’s land is registered. With less than 10 per cent of land in Sub-Saharan Africa registered, the need for proper land registration is evident. She noted Uganda’s population growth, from six million in 1952 to about 45 million currently, with 17 per cent in urban areas and 83 per cent in rural areas, many of whom are not using the land for production.

“Our projections indicate that by 2035, Uganda’s population will reach 50 million, and by 2050, it will be 100 million. Developed countries such as USA, UK and those in Asia have over 80 per cent of their land registered, with less than five per cent of their populations living in rural areas,” Alupo said.

She stressed that Uganda’s future land size will be insufficient unless the country invests in industrialization and urbanization sectors. Alupo urged the discouragement of primitive practices such as land grabbing, disputes, and injustices to protect land rights for communities.

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