Two Prominent Soroti Leaders Receive Free Land Certificates

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Two prominent Soroti leaders are among the 119 vulnerable people who have received free certificates of customary land ownership-CCOs.  They are Pastor Robert Eceru, the Chairperson Soroti Pastors and Elders Fellowship -SOPEF and Michael Ocen Ouga, the outgoing Tubur Sub County LC-3 Chairperson.  

The certificates were handed over to the vulnerable households by the German Government through the German International Cooperation-GIZ in partnership with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and Teso Religious Leaders for Peace and Reconciliation-TERELEPAR.

The certificates were processed under the Responsible Land Policy project (RELAPU) project that started its operations in five sub-counties in Soroti and Katakwi districts in 2016 and is expected to end in October 2021. The project targets to map and document land belonging to 5,000 households.   The project aims “to improve access to land as a key precondition for poverty and hunger reduction in rural areas for certain population groups, especially for women and marginalized groups, in Eastern and Central Uganda.”  The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). 

GIZ and district officials preparing certificates of customary land ownership to give to vulnerable households in Tubur sub county, Soroti on Tuesday. Picture by Stephen Eligu

During the issuance of the CCOs at Tubur Sub County headquarters on Tuesday afternoon, Ocen and Eceru expressed gratitude to the Governments of German and Uganda for helping them survey their land, saying it will help reduce land conflicts. Pastor Eceru says it has been very expensive to survey his land of over 10 acres at Ongurio and Ceele villages in Acuna parish but he is lucky to receive two certificates under the program. 

Ocen says the certificate that he has received will help sort out the land case between him and his twin brother, Samuel Opio. He says that he received over four cases of land disputes in his office in the last five years, adding that these problems will be resolved now that people have CCOs.

Samuel Eriaku, the GIZ Technical Advisor says the project that started in Tubur Sub-County in 2019 came to a standstill for a year due to some challenges among them the COVID-19 pandemic. He says more families will receive the certificates once they fulfil the requirements and the land board approves them.  John Ojao, the Executive Director TERELEPAR says the project was able to cover 25 out of the 27 villages in the sub-county, adding that 148 people were trained to resolve land disputes.  

Paul Egwau, the Physical Planner Soroti District who represented the lands officer, says that the certificate issuance is in line with Article 337 section B of the constitution. He urged the beneficiaries to keep the certificates well. 

Bob Owiny, the deputy district speaker and LC-5 Councilor-Elect for Tubur Sub-County who was the chief guest warns the locals against using fake surveyors to survey their land.  He warned locals to desist from denying this project that’s intended to grab land saying, the Government will not grab peoples land.

Several speakers who believe that this project will reduce land conflicts called for the extension of the project to more villages including the entire Obulei parish. The beneficiaries were encouraged to sensitize others to adopt the program intended to secure their land from grabbers.