Land Conflict Mitigation Project: Widow Learns How to Access Structures for Justice

Widow Learns How to Access Structures for Justice

 By Wade Snowdon                                                                                                                                  October 28th, 2009

 LUKOLE, PADER-Despite his death in 1994, Adong Beatrice[1] lived for many years on her husbands ancestral land located in the sub-county of Patongo. Unfortunately as security further deteriorated as a result of the insurgency by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), she and her children were forced to relocate to a camp for the internally displaced.                        

As relative calm prevailed and citizens were urged to resettle to their original homesteads, Beatrice went back to the land she once called home and found that the land had already been tilled by her neighbor who had claimed it as his own.

 To resolve the issue, Beatrice lodged her complaint with the Local Council II (LCII) but did not receive the help she sought. “I realized that the LCII knew the neighbor well and that he fully supported him no matter what was the real truth.”

 Not knowing what to do next, Beatrice decided to return to the land and requested the neighbor to allow her and her children to stay on the property. While she was granted permission to ‘temporarily’ remain on the land, she was denied the opportunity to engage in cultivation. This has prevented her from being able to realize any income to provide for her and her 7 children, causing them to rely on others for their survival.  

 Despite allowing Beatrice temporary residence, the neighbor regularly insists that she should locate the relatives of her late husband and should leave the land and instead go and live with these relatives. Sadly, due to circumstances surrounding the war, no other relative remains except her sister-in-law who has given testimony that indeed the land rightfully belongs to Beatrice.

 The thought of loosing the land is “I think it will be the end of me. I didn’t know anywhere to go before the meeting. If I loose the land, I think it will be the end of me. I have no where else to go,” said Beatrice with tears in her eyes.

 When asked why she didn’t try other avenues to resolve the conflict, Beatrice stated that she has not taken the man to court as she, “does not have any money to do so.” However, after attending a community sensitization on Land Conflict Mitigation Structures and Practices organized by the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) with funding from Catholic Relief Services (CRS), she finally realized that there were other options available to her. “I had not tried mediation or dialogue and never knew about such practices before attending the meeting,” said Beatrice.

 The presentations by the Land Conflict Mitigation Committee (LCMC) taught her that there are structures in the community who can help her despite her limited resources.

 “Since I am just a mere woman, I fear that even if I do keep the land, others may seek justice by killing me.” She further stated that, “I feel like I can be protected by the LCMC as the system doesn’t seem to create anger. I want to solve the problem in a way that we can all live together with no grudges.”

 



[1] Name and location changed for confidentiality purposes.

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