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Table 1 Key phases in the evolution of land use policies and laws in Uganda

From: Uganda’s rangeland policy: intentions, consequences and opportunities

Phase Key features of the phase Source
Pre-colonial(before1894) • Land tenure was based on the customary systems, in both the sedentary and pastoral communities
• Three broad customary land tenure systems were in place; communal/tribal, clan tenure, and nomadic tenure
• In central Uganda (Buganda) land was controlled and managed by the Kabaka (King) as a trustee who would allocate land anywhere to any clan or group of individuals
• In pastoral communities (mainly in the semi-arid areas) that practiced transhumance livestock management, access to land was based on clans and household reciprocal agreements with other clans and neighbours especially those occupying the dry season grazing areas.
• Grazing rights among pastoral communities were vested in the entire members of the tribe with no specific rights vested in individuals
• The social, political and resource boundaries were flexible and negotiable in areas covered by rangelands
• The local kings and chiefs had no rights to sell but held land in trust of their people in all parts of Uganda that had their land vested in them
Lastarria-Cornhiel (2003).
Green (2006)
Wabineno-Oryema (2015)
Colonial phase (1894-1961) • Colonial powers and administrators introduced a new system of land administration with four different land tenure regimes: (i) mailo, (ii) freehold, (iii) leasehold, and (iv) crown land (under Queen of England).
• Initial attempts made to formalize land rights and ownership-the means to holding land.
• Land agreements between the British and Kingdoms such as the 1900 Buganda agreement, 1901, Ankole agreement and Tooro agreements were implimented
• For the first time, individuals who occupied land declared as ‘freehold and leasehold’ were prone to be evicted without asking for their permission
• Payments for use of land including rangelands in form of rent became established especially in Ankole (south western Uganda), Tooro (Mid-western Uganda) and Buganda (central Uganda) with the various laws established such as the 1900 Toro Agreement and 1901 Ankole Agreement
Wabineno-Oryema (2015)
Rugadya and Kamusiime (2013)
From independence to early reform periods (1962-1985) • Crown land became designated Public land under the Public Land Act of 1962
• Insecurity of land tenure increased as the Public Land Act, 1962, made it possible to easily offer Freehold and Leasehold to individuals even in the customary land tenure systems.
• Public lands Act, 1969 put a cap at 500 acres for any land acquisition unless authorized by a Minister in charge of land
• The 1975 Land Reform Decree (LRD) was passed by the then President of Uganda (Idi Amin Dada). All land was nationalized and vested in the Uganda land commission for economic and social development
The Land Reform Decree of 1975 removed the recognition of pastoral communities rights on land.This decree triggered the grabbing of grazing land by speculators through long-termleaseholds, especially in the southwest region, thus “progressive ranchers” fenced off the hitherto common access, grazing area, water areas, cattle , and salt licks thus marginalizing pastoralists
• Subsidies were provided to ranch owners to implement modern methods of cattle production
Wabineno-Oryema (2015)
Beyaraza (2004)
From early reform to present reform phase (1986-2016) • The 1995 Constitution of Uganda and the 1998 Land Act of Uganda were enacted with a provision that all land belonged to the people of Uganda under four tenure systems which include, “mailo” freehold, leasehold and customary.
• Individual ownership became more entrenched and evolution of a market of land became more apparent.
• Customary land ownership/tenure became recoganised
• Land conflicts became intense especially in areas with heightened individualistion of ownership.
• Partitioning of communal grazing lands into small ranches
• Fencing off most of the established ranches in an attempt to control grazing and spread of livestock disease amongst animals on different ranches
• Land and Land use Policies have been formulated but implementation is not yet fully underway
• Communal land is increasingly being registered fraudulently as freehold by local elites especially in areas covered by rangelands
Government of Uganda (1995)
Government of Uganda (1998)
Government of Uganda (2013)
Government of Uganda (2007)
Rugadya (1999)
Beyaraza (2004)
McAuslan (2013)