The communities in northern Uganda’s Kole and Dokolo Districts have been deeply disturbed by decades of war and resettlement. The high demand for land has become so contentious that people have been killed in land disputes. And past attempts to resolve the issues have often failed as the underlying poor community relations have not been addressed.
Thanks to generous funding from the Baring and Ellerman Foundations we have been able work through partners TAO-Uganda and FAPAD (Facilitation for Peace and Development) to bring about the needed fundamental change. So much so that one male household head said:
“I have learnt a lot about women’s land rights from my wife. Now my entire family recognises and respects women’s land rights.”
Our three year project, running until 2016, has taken a multi-phased approach to changing attitudes, as outlined in the TAO Annual Report 2014. We have worked with a wide range of community and cultural leaders, empowered women advocates, trained Community Legal Aid Providers (CLAPs) and conducted extensive awareness raising. Opio John, a clan leader from Lwala village Tetugo Parish testified to the change:
“We now recognise and work to promote land rights not only in the cultural context but also the statutory context. I also initiate individual visits to families that do not recognise women’s land rights and sensitise them.”
In addition, the project mediates individual land disputes:
240 cases resolved through mediation between project start in 2013 and late 2015, with 29 pending and 23 referred.
Although not yet finished, the project’s success in increasing understanding of women’s land rights, across the community, has already achieved much.
Increased access to land, for sustainable farming and other income-generation:
Thanks to greater community awareness of land rights, around 1,625 widows have already gained access to their rightful land. Through the simple act of planting along land boundaries, land ownership is much better respected. By having written agreements, women are now making income from renting out their land. Many are now acquiring land titles – which allows them to access loans and so start up businesses.
Less gender-based violence:
Gender-based violence has been a major problem in this area. Alga Ekwan, one of the 60 women advocates trained by this project says:
“TAO-Uganda has been the best project in handling not only land matters but also empowering our capacities on gender issues, so cases of gender-based violence have reduced….
“We help them to appreciate the value of staying peacefully without violence. Also, we help those whose rights have been violated to access justice through mediation. And if this fails, we use the referral arrangements. We also help them to form social groups within their communities because [if you go to the police your husband will come back the next day and the violence will continue].”
Bribery for case hearings reduced:
There had been a high incidence of local council officials being bribed to achieve the desired case outcome. Thanks to the project’s tailored training of a range of community leaders, they have much better leadership skills for handling cases and appreciate the effectness of mediation.
Greater leadership roles for women:
To enable women to secure their land rights this project has built women’s skills and confidence to participate in decision-making. As a result, the project’s benefits go beyond land rights. For example, women are being equipped with the skills and courage to take on leadership roles in groups, such as Village Savings and Loan Associations and even local councils.
Orphans and vulnerable children benefit:
Improved gender relations, greater income, raised awareness of rights and an environment of unity and cooperation have combined to have highly beneficial impacts on the orphans and other vulnerable children in these communities. More are going to school, food security and health have improved, children learn how to relate well to each other and they can grow up in an environment of security and well-being.
The project is due to be completed in 2016.
Trust for Africa’s Orphans’ major 3-year project in the impoverished north of Uganda has now been concluded, having brought great benefits to the community.
A full summary and photos of this project can now be seen in TAO Annual Report 2014.
The ‘Improving land rights, livelihoods and climate change resistance’ project, funded by Comic Relief, built on the tremendous success of our previous major agri-business project, see Lira, Apac & Oyam Project 2011-13 – Summary & Evaluation. Like the Lira project it organised the small farmers, mostly women, into farmer associations, training them in the agricultural and business skills needed to be able to sell in bulk at commercial prices to large buyers. The result was a great increase in the income for the 600 participating households, which supported 2,700+ orphans and other vulnerable children.
The project also went further than the Lira one. It included significant work to improve understanding and acceptance of land rights. This northern Uganda community continues to be very affected by the decades of conflict, and women – especially widows – and children are particularly vulnerable to being denied access to their rightful land. The project resolved about 30 land cases and raised awareness of rights much more widely, also resulting in a positive impact on gender relations.
War and climate change have also affected the land and environment, and the demand for fuel exacerbates the pressures on the trees and land. The third major component of this project was, therefore, to improve understanding of climate change factors and to build local resistance, including through goat husbandry, bee-keeping, tree-planting and use of soil enrichment and natural pesticides. One of the immediate impacts of this training combined with better incomes was a 50% reduction in the number of trees cut down to make charcoal to sell for additional income.
The ways in which the community has adapted to climate change is illustrated in this info-graphic produced by our delighted partner organisation, TAO-Uganda. Further information can now be seen in TAO Annual Report 2014.
“Hugely innovative” and a “great success” were the strong accolades given in the independent evaluations of our project to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Northern Uganda through market-led development.
Funded by the Department for International Development (DfID), this project in the districts of Lira, Apac and Oyam was our first to enable smallholder farmers to sell their produce at commercial prices.
Our innovative approach was designed by working closely with the communities to understand their needs. It supported farmers to work together in groups and subsequently register as Farmers’ Cooperatives. Farmers were trained in group dynamics and leadership skills, financial management, and marketing and negotiation. Representatives visited the commercial buyers to gain an understanding of how they operate, their quality standards and logistical issues. Stores were built to enable produce to be kept securely and sold in bulk at fair market prices. Farmers learnt to make planting decisions based on market information and appreciation of issues such as crop rotation.
The project generated a very tangible profit to the farmers that in just the first two years represents an excellent return on investment for our donor – 424% + increased food consumption for the families. There were also multiplier effects on the wider community and in terms of the participants’ ability to invest further in their farms.
We were also delighted that the project evaluations confirmed a significant improvement in gender relations, reduced gender based violence and an increase in women’s involvement in leadership and decision making.
This particular project built on our previous work in these three districts that had already enabled women and children to achieve fair access to land, and had trained them in productive agricultural techniques.
We are now applying the market-access lessons learnt to our current major project in the adjacent Pader District, which combines all the elements of both projects in Lira, Apac and Oyam, together with support to help farmers to resist the impacts of climate change.
We are currently conducting a major land advocacy project in nearby districts and are seeking donors to fund the application of this successful approach in these districts as well.
Our detailed Lira, Apac & Oyam Project 2011-13 – Summary & Evaluation and our Current Projects page provide further information about our exciting new approach.