Mbale | RedPepper Digital – About 823 residents from Bungokho and Bukasakya sub-counties in Mbale District have received customary land titles as part of efforts to resolve land disputes.
The Minister for Lands, Housing and Urbanisation, Ms Judith Nabakooba, issued certificates of customary ownership (CCO), which is equivalent to a land title, to the locals at the weekend.
The certificates detail, among other things, the acreage and boundary of the land.
In case of a dispute, the area land committee asks the parties involved to produce their CCOs, which they use as a yardstick to settle the matter.
The International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) funded by UN-Habitat is spearheading the issuance of the titles under a project; “ securing land tenure of smallholder farmers for improved food security in Elgon region.”
Ms Nabakooba urged the beneficiaries to protect their certificates.
“Those who have received these titles, your safety is guaranteed. This also means the safety of your land from the grabbers,” she said.
“I call upon beneficiaries to engage in economic activities because as a country, we need to enhance food security,” the minister added.
Mr Dennis Obbo, the commissioner lands, warned residents against laminating their certificates.
Mr Stephen Wakoli, a resident of Napuli Village in Bungokho Sub-county, said they had been experiencing rampant cases of land conflicts.
Mr Wilfred Wakila, a resident of Makambo Village in the same sub-county, said the titles would add value to their land.
“Our land has value because we have land titles. Besides, it is also going to reduce violence in the communities where neighbours fight one another over boundary issues,” he said.
Ms Daphine Khasitsi, a resident of Sakiya Village, said the land titles would enable them to access loans.
“It is going to be easy for us to get loans and invest in our business, and educate children, among others,” she said.
Mr Karim Wanda, a resident of Masaba Village in Bukasakya, said the initiative will boost farming.
Mr Chris Mafabi, the chairperson of Bungokho, asked the government to extend the project to other sub-counties.
Ms Pamela Katolo, the country manager of IIRR, said their goal is to ensure small-holder farmers secure land titles.
“The smallholder farmers are the most vulnerable people who have customary land without documentation,” she said, adding that such land accounts for almost 80 per cent but most of it is unrecorded.