Faith Based Institutions Not Immune to Land Conflict

Faith Based Institutions Not Immune to Land Conflict

February 25, 2010

By Wade Snowdon with reporting by Abdulai Hussien

PURANGA, PADER-Pentecostals and Muslims have found themselves involved in a land conflict after the land in which the Christian sect was using to build their church was contested by the Muslim community.

Failing to resolve the conflict among themselves, the Muslim community attempted to forcefully remove the Pentecostals from the land who claim to have purchased it in 2002. The attempt was unsuccessful with the parties electing to use the court system.

After the Local Council Courts (LCII) and the Sub-County Courts failed to successfully resolve the issue, the Muslim community approached the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative's (ARLPI) 'Land Conflict Mitigation Committee' for help.

Funded by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), ARLPI's 'Land Conflict Mitigation Committee' is composed of representatives from the various stakeholders mandated to handle land matters in Uganda. Their main role is to provide information, make referrals, and mediate conflicts over land.

Facilitated by the committee, the two conflicting parties were led through a dialogue session with each party being able to share their position. When the mediation concluded, the Muslims resolved not to chase away the Pentecostals and to share a common boundary.

Land conflicts have become a major stumbling block to achieving sustainable peace in Northern Uganda affecting all members of society.

According to the chairman of the Sub-county courts in Pabbo, the Diocese of Northern Uganda has also been involved in a land dispute after land which they planned to erect buildings on was stopped by the neighboring clan. The Diocese claims the land had been given to them by a deceased clan member. However the clan claims that the church has extended the boundary past what had been allotted.

While many structures such as the LCII courts, Area Land Committee, Sub-County Courts, and cultural leaders are all mandate deal with land matters, community members often complain of long wait times, corruption, and uninformed structures which further exasperate the situation.

By fostering collaboration and coordination of the structures through the 'Land Conflict Mitigation Committees', members are forced to be accountable to each other and the community therefore strengthening the service they provide.

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.