ARLPI Community Sensitizations Results in Reduction Of Court Cases
February 25, 2010
By Wade Snowdon with reporting by Abdulai Hussien
PURANGA, PADER-After two years of failing to find a solution to a conflict over half an acre of land, the situation between Odong Francis1 and Opiyo George had resorted to violence.
Seeking help from ARLPI's 'Land Conflict Mitigation Committee', the LCII of the area requested the Committee to offer mediation services to the conflicting parties. Both parties accepted and met for consultations and advice. Having not achieved a final resolution, a second meeting was then scheduled.
Unfortunately, Opiyo George failed to attend the next meeting as other community members had given him advice not to accept mediation. However, after attending a community sensitization as well as taking part in individual meetings by various members of the 'Land Conflict Mitigation Committee', Opiyo George realized that he had been misinformed about his rights.
“After the sensitization I realized I had been misled about what was rightfully mine by friends,” said Opiyo George who later withdrew his complaint allowing Odong Francis to possess the disputed land.
After being denied access to ancestral lands during the peak of the war between the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and the government of Uganda, many of the natural boundary markers such as streams, rocks and trees have disappeared. To make matters worse, many of the elders who were once conversant with the boundaries have since died leaving younger generations to 'guess' the parameters of their ancestral land.
While many structures such as the LCII Courts, Sub-County Courts, Area Land Committees, and cultural leaders have been mandated to handle land conflicts at a local level, many community members complain about receiving contradictory messages.
To address this, ARLPI through funding by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has trained and fostered coordination and collaboration amongst the various structures to more effectively deal with land related matters at the community level.
The project has realized numerous community sensitizations on the topic of land matters and has set up 'Land Conflict Mitigation Committees' which consists of representatives from the various structures mandated to deal with land matters in Puranga and Lukole in Pader district as well as Koch Goma, Pabbo, Amuru, and Purongo in Amuru district.
As a result, in Koch Goma over 55 cases that were registered at either the LCII or Sub-County Courts have been dropped after community members attended sensitizations conducted by the ARLPI Committee in that sub-county. Like Opiyo George, they had discovered that the basis on which their complaints had been made, were not lawful.
1Names changed for confidentiality purposes