Civil Peace Service: Promotion of peace building measures
Title: Civil Peace Service: Support for the Participatory Transformation of Land and Land-related Conflicts in North-eastern Uganda
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2015 to 2018
GIZ’s Civil Peace Service (CPS) programme has been active in Uganda since 1999. For many years, its operations focused on Karamoja and Teso in North-Eastern Ugandan and West Nile in North-Western Uganda. All of these regions are torn by violent conflicts. Efforts focused on de-constructing prejudices, promoting dialogue among different groups, and strengthening non-violent conflict resolution processes.
During the last years, other conflicts have become more important. Competition for the scarce land resources bears the greatest potential for violence. Just as in many parts of Africa, most of Uganda’s people heavily depend on land for their livelihoods. With land becoming a scarce resource, its ownership and use, however, is increasingly subject to dispute.
Governmental and traditional institutions are unable to cope with this relatively new problem. In some cases they are actually involved in the conflicts. The victims of these developments are the poor, particularly women and children, more specifically, widows and orphans. Land grabbing and related disputes are increasing even within families and sometimes have fatal consequences.
The causes of conflicts are complex. The main factors include the high population growth rate, the increasing economic importance of land, conflicts between traditional and formal land rights, disputes over boundaries and ownership rights, as well as mineral resources.
Against this background, the CPS realigned its approach and activities and is now focusing on the Karamoja and Teso regions, as particularly severe land conflicts exist both within and between these regions. CPS engagement in the West Nile region ceased at the end of 2014.
Within Karamoja and Teso, functioning interest groups are formed contributing to the prevention and peaceful transformation of land conflicts with all stakeholders participating in dialogue processes on an equal basis.
In preparation for the new programme, CPS conducted studies on land conflicts in Karamoja and Teso. The results showed that there is a lack of publicly available information on formal and traditional land management; communication channels between institutions and social groups are more or less non-existent; traditional institutions are not involved in land administration, and in many cases weak; the capacity of actors and stakeholders to hold and facilitate dialogue is limited.
In 2014, CPS organised four-day multi-stakeholder meetings in both regions, each of which was attended by around 120 participants. All relevant stakeholders participated: national authorities, local politicians, traditional leaders, international and national non-governmental organisations, and local initiatives. Many participants met for the first time and were able to exchange opinions and could get to know other points of view.
A key result of these meetings was the formation of thirteen interest groups of civil society actors, governmental institutions and traditional leaders to enable continuous exchange between stakeholders and undertake participatory interventions to prevent or transform specific land and land related conflicts.
Since 2014, each region has hosted annual multi-stakeholder meetings to review the mandates of the groups that formed, assess their accomplishments and provide guidance on the interventions they are planning in the coming year.
Technical, financial and logistical support for these processes is provided by CPS. The focus is on establishing networks and advising various stakeholders, with special attention to traditional leaders. The overall aim is to encourage exchange of information on land issues, and to build up local capacities and resources for joint and non-violent conflict prevention and resolution.
The Interest Groups on land conflicts have formed – six in Karamoja and seven in Teso.
Most of these groups have already taken concrete action including major interventions to promote the rights of women to land; facilitation of dialogues to prevent violent border conflict between different communities; engagement of actors to increase knowledge and highlight issues in natural resources; engagement of national actors to establish dialogue structures in conservation areas in Karamoja, implementation of studies on the performance of local land management institutions, preparation of proposals for revising national laws and facilitation of dialogue processes, among others. In total, over 40 institutions and organisations have participated in this process including (inter)national NGOs, government stakeholders, traditional institutions.
Building the capacities of the interest groups to deal with land issues is a key part of the work of the CPS. This has included ongoing efforts to build conflict sensitivity capacities in the groups, sharing information, and increasing conflict transformation capabilities.