Orphans Awarded Land After ARLPI Mediation

Orphans Awarded Land After ARLPI Mediation

February 25, 2010

By Wade Snowdon with reporting by Abdulai Hussien

LUKOLE, PADER-For over 21 years, their parents lived on the land before the war forced them into camps for the internally displaced (IDP). However after both parents died in the camp, Aber1 and Akello were refused the right to resettle on the land once occupied by their immediate family.

Unlike the majority of Acholi, the girls parents remained on the mothers clans land after they were married. Both girls were born on the site where they remained until the entire clan was forced to enter the IDP camps.

However, upon returning to the place of their birth over a decade later, both Aber and Akello were chased away by their maternal uncle who told them they have no right to their maternal land. The girls took their case to the Local Council Court (LCII) who ruled in their uncles favor and then appealed to the Sub-County Court. Sadly almost two years later, no resolution had been found.

Traditionally in Acholi, when a woman marries she loses her right to her parental land and instead gains access to land belonging to her husbands clan. However at times out of goodwill, the womans family may allow a newly married couple to stay if no other options are possible. As people are now in the process of resettlement, such scenarios are creating challenges for community members who are not well informed of both Ugandan and customary law related to land.

To address the knowledge gap, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative's (ARLPI), through funding by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) trained and fostered the formation of a 'Land Conflict Mitigation Committee' in Lukole for the purpose of educating the community as well as for providing mediation to conflicting parties.

After a community sensitization on land rights by the Committee, the two girls approached ARLPI's 'Land Conflict Mitigation Committee' for advice. A week later, the LCII of the area referred the case to the Committee. It was then when the two parties agreed to try mediation.

While the first dialogue session was futile, after further consultations and counseling the uncle agreed and surrendered the land that had once been occupied by the deceased father and mother of the two girls. After over two years, the orphans were finally able to return home.

ARLPI has been working on land conflict mitigation in various sub-counties throughout Acholiland. As a faith based organization, ARLPI seeks non-violent resolutions to conflicts which also foster reconciliation between the conflicting parties.

With funding by CRS, ARLPI has been conducting numerous community sensitizations on the topic of land matters and has set up 'Land Conflict Mitigation Committees' in Puranga and Lukole in Pader district as well as Koch Goma, Pabbo, Amuru, and Purongo in Amuru district.

1Name changed for confidentiality purposes