Land Conflict Mitigation Project: Orphan Opts for Mediation Over Courts to Resolve Land Conflict

Orphan Opts for Mediation Over Courts to Resolve Land Conflict

BY WADE SNOWDON

 Oct 10th, 2009

 PURANGA, PADER-After the death of his mother in 1962, as a young boy George Otim[1] remained under the guardianship of his maternal uncle who raised him like a son.

 After the uncle married, the wife’s sister became pregnant and had a child with a member of the uncle’s clan named Okot. The uncle and his wife took the Okot into their home and raised him alongside Otim.

 As the uncle never had any children of his own, shortly before his death the uncle informed the two boys that his land was to be divided with each one receiving an equal portion.

 However when the war broke out, George went to Gulu while Okot stayed and was eventually forced to relocate to the camp. Since the land was only 3km from the IDP camp, Okot was able to continue cultivating the land throughout the war therefore claiming that since he himself had developed the area, the land was solely his.

 When George came back from Gulu in 2006, Okot refused to allow him to claim his portion of the inherited land. Instead he was told to go and find his paternal family to receive a portion of their land. However, George does not know who his paternal relatives are as his uncle became his legal guardian when he was very young after his parents death.

 To seek a long lasting solution to the case, George went to the Local Council (LC) II court where it was determined that the contested land was indeed his. Nevertheless, his victory would be short lived.

Not satisfied with the verdict, Okot appealed to the sub-county courts who then stopped George from being able to cultivate the land. Not being able to earn a living, George returned to Gulu where he continues to rent a home while he waits for the court verdict.

 Unfortunately the delay of the sub-county courts has been long preventing George from being able to benefit from the growing season. When he made a complaint to the SCC about the delay, they referred him to the chairman of Land Conflict Mitigation Committee (LCMC) organized by the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI).

 After speaking with the LCMC, George requested them to help by organizing a mediation between him and Okot in order to bring a faster resolution to the conflict. The LCMC accepted and a mediation date has been set.

 Despite the need to engage in cultivation in order to generate income, the land has significant importance as it is needed to provide shelter and security to his family. “I require the full portion of land which was promised to me by my uncle so that there is enough space for my children to live securely in the future.”

 Through funding by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), ARLPI has been undertaking a Land Conflict Mitigation Project in both Pader and Amuru to help those such as women, orphans, and youth who are particularly vulnerable to land conflict.

 


[1] Names and location changed to honor confidentiality.

 

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