An analysis of the mechanisms for resolution of land conflicts in Teso Sub-region, Uganda
This thesis analyses the various mechanisms used in resolution of land conflicts in Teso Sub-region. The study applies Hizkiaz Aseefa’s theoretical framework for conflict resolution in analyzing the different mechanisms used for resolving land conflicts in the sub-region. Land conflicts in Teso have increasingly raised salient controversies and created deep social rifts between individuals, families, cultural groups and institutions, especially in the last ten years. In cases where land wrangles have dragged on for long, or reached violent stages, the social, emotional, economic, political and environmental damages caused are clearly evident. The research was set to lay down a systematic and deeper understanding of the mechanisms used in resolution land conflicts in Teso sub-region. It does this by identifying the types and causes of land conflicts in Teso, assessing their impact, and analyzing the existing mechanisms used in resolution of land conflicts in the subregion. The research used in-depth interview guides, focus-group discussion guides and questionnaires to collect primary data. 15 resourceful men and women were taken through in-depth interview; five different groups across Teso were guided through focus-group discussions; and 204 sampled respondents were served with questionnaires. Secondary data was sourced from Soroti Chief Magistrate’s Court records and from relevant books and internet sources. The data generated has been processed, analyzed and presented using statistical tables, graphs and charts. The study shows that 95% of the land conflicts in Teso sub-region are found in rural Teso, where over 93% of the land is held under the customary land tenure system. It also reveals that in Teso there is less security of land tenure under the customary land tenure system than under the land lease and freehold land tenure systems. The study further shows that the major causes of land conflicts in the sub-region are population increase (26.5%), unclear boundaries (26.5%), land commercialization (19.3%), nepotism (16.3%) and greed (6%). According to the communities among whom this research was conducted, the most highly ranked mechanisms that are suitable for resolution of land conflicts are the clan courts (47.3%), LC I courts (25.1%) and land tribunal or courts of law (20.3%). Other mechanisms include negotiation efforts by the parties on their own, and mediation by Civil Society Organizations and religious leaders and institutions. The research affirms Hizkiaz Aseefa’s theory that the dialogue approaches of negotiation, mediation and reconciliation are more effective in conflict resolution than the arbitration, adjudication and forceful approaches; and this applies to land conflicts as well. In Teso sub-region, 93% of the land is owned under customary land tenure system. It is more viable, therefore, to legally empower and build the capacity of the clan courts to handle cases of land conflicts within the customary land tenure system, while the Magistrates’ Courts handle cases of land disputes within the land lease and freehold tenure systems. The strengths in the clan system for resolution of land disputes outweigh their loopholes. There is need, therefore, to strengthen the mandate of clan courts to handle land conflicts within customary land, and empower land institutions and local government organs to effectively fulfill their functions. Effective legislation for prevention and mitigation of land conflicts needs to be prioritized at district levels in Teso. This should then be popularized through effective community sensitization, backed by a strong and sustainable partnership with the civil society organizations in the sub-region.