Acholi Leaders Living in Fear Over Increasing Land Conflicts

Various leaders from the Acholi sub-region are living in fear over the rampant land wrangles in the area, describing them as a time bomb whose explosion could lead the region back to the LRA insurgency.

The MPs who were attending the Acholi region youth business symposium at Gudie Leisure Farm in Najjera on Monday highlighted that the land conflicts problem is slowly engulfing the region, leaving many people vulnerable.

Geoffrey Okello, the MP for Nwoya East constituency, says that during the LRA insurgency, the population in this region lost everything, including their direction, and only retained their land. He adds that due to the lack of direction, the people who were returning from refugee camps where they had spent more than twenty years could not utilize this land.

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According to Okello, the land conflicts are a reflection of the psychosocial wounds caused by the war and the extent of vulnerability the insurgency left in the region. “The current population in the region has half of it being born and raised in the camps, and these people are just migrants in what they call home today, having very little or even no attachment at all.”

He adds that this level of vulnerability has led to internal land disputes and has encouraged invasions from people outside of the region, such as the Balaalo (nomadic pastoralists). This trend, according to him, is not a sustainable way of investment and is likely to explode at any moment.

Lilly Adong, the former woman member of parliament for Nwoya district, says that because of the war, which has since ceased to be an excuse, it has become more difficult for the people in the region to tap into their resources, including land. Yet, the only solution to the land wrangles in the area is to put it to use rather than lamenting about land grabbers.

Adong says mere empowerment programs, especially for the youth, similar to the one that Gudie Leisure Farm holds, should be a wake-up call for the people in the region to find ways of effectively and efficiently using their land productively; otherwise, they risk losing it to people who have the capacity to utilize it.

For Christopher Komakech, the MP for Aruu county, he says that like any other people of Uganda, the Acholi have a place they call home, which they are scared of losing. But it is disappointing that people from other parts of the country manipulate the Acholi and take away their land almost for free. “These manipulators exploit the vulnerability of our people and take away huge chunks of their land in exchange for peanuts.”

As a solution to this challenge, Komakech says that the locals must find ways of fully utilizing their land because if they don’t, they are leaving it exposed to grabbers who are in most cases very powerful and have a lot of resources, making them unstoppable.

Gudla Nayiga, the CEO of Gudie Leisure Farm, the conveners of the monthly business symposium in different parts of the country, mentioned that the innovation aims to spotlight the investment opportunities in the various parts of the country and empower the youths in agriculture, tourism, and trade.

Nayiga says they divided the country into ten regions, and so far, nine have been spotlighted, with only one remaining. Spotlighting also involves identifying challenges faced within these regions and devising possible solutions to them.

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