Community Finds Hope in Land Stakeholder Collaboration

Community Finds Hope in Land Stakeholder Collaboration

By Nicole Enns Fehr                                                                                                                      August 31, 2010

Leaders from various land stakeholder groups sat across the table from each other arguing over a land dispute. Fortunately, this particular time it’s not real, they were participating in a land conflict mediation role play. However, the role play closely reflects reality for the Lalogi community. In working through the role play with a mediation instructor they are acquiring skills they can immediately put to great use within their community. The solutions they’ve imagined for this particular conflict scenario are creative, demonstrating hope that there are alternative ways to resolve land disputes before they reach the level of violence or the official court system.

Land conflicts are one of the most challenging situations facing the Acholi people. As the  population returns from IDP camps land conflict is one of the primary threats to a newly found peace. The causes of land conflict include: misinterpretation of customary laws, displacement due to conflict, poverty and greed, death of elders and foreign investment.

Following the training session six trainees were chosen by their fellow participants to act as a land conflict resolution group in Lalogi. Ms. Caroline Opiro, a member of the local Women for Peace group also set up by the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), was quickly nominated to be a member of the newly formed group. She emphasized the importance of including women in conflict resolution roles within the community. “Women socialize more than men, which makes it easy to pass on the training” she noted. Within their own group of women they have already been handling and acting as observers to various land conflicts, but this most recent training in mediation, along with the guide Resolving Land Conflict in Acholiland: A Guide for Community Based Stakeholders will greatly increase their own capacity to resolve the conflicts arising before they are taken to court, a costly and dubious process in northern Uganda.

The cultural leader (Rwot), also a trainee, spoke highly of the mediation training. He is anxious to now call upon the community both so that they can pass on what they’ve learned and so that the community is aware that they can come to the mediation group when faced with land conflicts.

ARLPI’s Land Stakeholders Collaboration Project is sponsored by SPRING/USAID.

The mediation training mentioned above is a part of a broader attempt by ARLPI to bring together all land conflict stakeholders, including formal and informal structures, in an attempt to enhance collaboration and cooperation. The Land Stakeholders Collaboration Project is one component of ARLPI’s larger mission of responding proactively to conflict and promoting non-violent methods for conflict transformation in northern Uganda.

Note: For greater detail on addressing land conflict in northern Uganda, including PDFs of Resolving Land Conflict in Acholiland: A Guide for Community Based Stakeholders in both English and Luo, along with related brochures, can be found on ARLPI's land conflict webpage under ARLPI documentation.