ARLPI's Land Conflict Mitigation Committee Makes Dialogue Possible
February 25, 2010
By Wade Snowdon with reporting by Abdulai Hussien
PURANGA, PADER-For nine months the case between Opiyo George1 and Opige Paul had been unresolved as the backlog of cases for the Local Council II (LCII) courts prevented their complaints from being heard. The two had found themselves embroiled in a conflict over 4 acres of land which had become violent.
Frustrated by the situation, Opiyo and his clan ambushed the family of Opige, a family from the neighboring Langi tribe using machetes and spears. While no one was killed, the actions caused greater bitterness between the conflicting parties making any possibility of dialogue to seem impossible. It was then when the LCII or Parwech referred the case to the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative's (ARLPI) 'Land Conflict Mitigation Committee'.
The Committee in collaboration with the cultural leaders of Puranga and “Awitong” of Lango then called for a meeting between the two parties to determine their willingness for mediation. After both parties agreed, a mediation was scheduled for two days later.
After 11 hours of intense dialogue, the two parties finally agreed to share the contested land while Opiyo's clan will compensate the Opige family for the damage incurred as a result of their violent actions.
ARLPI's 'Land Conflict Mitigation Committee' is a group of individuals consisting of members of the Area Land Committee, LC II Courts, Sub-County Courts, Cultural Leaders, Police, and ARLPI's Peace Committees, who coordinate their efforts to more effectively resolve conflicts over land. Funded by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) their main roles are to provide knowledge, give referrals, and mediate such conflicts.
As the population continues to rise throughout Uganda, land conflict has become a contentious issue. Land is seen by many as their main source of economic empowerment therefore making it a precious resource that is heavily guarded.
In northern Uganda conflict over land has been particularly unique as the majority of the population were displaced due to war and have been in the process of returning to their original homesteads. Boundary markers have been lost and in many cases, the elders who know the area have died after such a prolonged period in the camps.
ARLPI an interfaith conflict transformation organization has been working tirelessly to mitigate land conflicts throughout Acholiland. Currently 'Land Conflict Mitigation Committees' have been set up in the sub-counties of Puranga and Lukole in Pader and Koch Goma, Pabbo, Amuru, and Purongo in Amuru.
1Names have been changed for confidentiality purposes