A critical analysis of customary land registration in Uganda: case study of Nwoya district, Uganda.
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Customary tenure system is one of the most prominent land tenure systems in Africa and in Uganda, majority of people hold land under customary tenure whereof, about 77% is unregistered and in Northern Uganda registered land only forms about 0.01%. Uganda has one of the best and most progressive legal and policy framework on land with a special recognition of customary tenure as presented in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995, the Land Act, 1998, the Physical Planning Act, 2010, the Land Regulations, 2004, the Physical Planning Regulations, Guidelines and Standards, the Uganda National Land Policy, 2013 and the National Land Use Policy, 2014 among others. Land registration is one of the ways globally recognized for providing security of tenure to land owners as it aids proper identification of land boundaries, documentation of land rights and issuance of legal documents. Customary land owners in Uganda have continuously demanded for legal documentation on customary land because of the continued land rights violations, difficulties in the enforcement of such right, encroachments, uncertainties in the identification of boundaries, and fraudulent conversions of customary land into freehold tenure. Despite the existence of the legal and policy framework on customary land registration in Uganda, Government made no fruitful efforts to implement this legal framework until 2016 which raises a question as to why the implementation of this legal and policy framework has taken this long. This study therefore makes a critical analysis of the legal and policy framework on customary land registration in Uganda using a case study of Nwoya district. The study reviewed the evolution of land ownership and registration in Uganda, analyzed the current legal and policy framework on customary land registration, evaluated how the legal and policy framework have been implemented, using the practical examples from the field. The study then identified the challenges and the gaps in the legal framework like the insufficiency and ineffectiveness of the law and lack of the necessary sufficient infrastructures in place required for proper implementation of the existing legal framework. The study recommended a comprehensive review of the legal framework for customary land registration, the need to develop an Independent 14 policy on customary land tenure, the Recordation of customary rules and regulations relating to customary land, Institution of a functional Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms; Sensitization of all customary Land owners; Digitalization of the registration of customary land; Empowerment and facilitation of traditional institutions to handle matters relating to customary land and constructing and equipping of the necessary infrastructure at the sub-counties. All these are aimed at addressing the gaps and hindrances in the process of registering customary land in order to fully protect the land rights of all the customary land owners to ensure an operational, effective and sufficient legal framework for customary land registration This research was conducted in Nwoya district and the main tools of data collection were mainly literature review and interviews. Literature used included peer reviewed journals papers, books, research reports, conference working papers, Newspaper articles and various land laws. The literature review guided the evolution of land ownership and the legal framework for customary land registration. Interviews were conducted with officials from Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development, members from the land management institutions, traditional institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) supporting customary land registration in Nwoya, members from district leadership and beneficiaries of the customary land registration in Nwoya district. The interviews with the selected respondents supplemented on the literature review and also provided information regarding the practical implementation of the legal framework on customary land registration