In Kibaale district in Uganda, 90 percent of landlords are absent. Accordingly, a majority of those living in the community lack secure land tenure.
Perhaps because of this absenteeism, the area has attracted massive, uncontrolled immigration, and migrants have cleared swaths of forest for settlement and agriculture.
But what is driving landlord absenteeism? What are the socio-economic implications of the situation on locals and the government? A new study on land use in Kibaale has found some intriguing results, which will be discussed, among other findings, at an event on forest tenure reform in Uganda on 22 November 2017 in Kampala.
Scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) found that people continue to degrade the forest by cutting trees for agriculture, and 80 percent of forests are found on private land and owned under the Mailo land tenure system.
Solutions: What has been done in Uganda? Focus on Participatory Prospective Analysis
The study outlines the various forest tenure regimes in the area, including collaborative forest management, private forest associations and customary forest. Forest tenure issues in Uganda are exacerbated by unclear boundaries, and improved through land titles and the absence of conflicts within the community. Despite Uganda’s new constitution, adopted in the 1990s and which ignited reforms in land tenure systems, a number of challenges still act as stumbling blocks to progress.
The study used the Participatory Prospective Analysis (PPA) method, a multi-stakeholder consultative process that involves identifying the issue as well as forces of change, selecting key driving forces and formulating future scenarios. In Kibaale, they identified factors impeding the quest for reforms. PPA worked to discover key driving forces while developing scenarios for the future that could potentially help secure tenure over forests there.
Total collapse of the forests and a situation where the forest is completely green were the main scenarios selected. Among the key influencers were politicians, the implementation capacity of key stakeholders, enforcement of forest laws and policies, influx of migrants and population dynamics. Undesirable scenarios included insecure forest tenure rights due to immigration and unfair enforcement of forest laws in favor of powerful, well-connected immigrants over indigenous people.
Undesirable scenarios: Drivers of landlord absenteeism
Because of the kind of destruction taking place occasioned by migrants, the researchers mapped the pathways for potential tenure security for Kibaale by 2025. The ten-year period, from 2015 when the study began to 2025 when it is projected to end, provides ample time to monitor changes. This they did through identifying desirable and non-desirable scenarios.
Using PPA, community members were brought together and this was effective in encouraging collective reflection, and thus CIFOR and partner scientists were able to identify threats to forest tenure security. The women viewed a major threat as the potential takeover of trees that were planted by women. Communities recommended involvement as well as identifying the responsible agents they were to work with.
The strategy of Kibaale district to overcome the problem was through exploring ways to strengthen community participation.
Tenure reform implementation in Uganda – presenting results
The research is anchored in four districts of Uganda that cover four different types of tenure regimes. Lamwo district presented a unique case – most of its forests are customary and managed by traditional institutions, therefore tenure reforms enabled traditional institutions to register forests as community forests.
Forest tenure issues in Uganda are alleviated through clear boundaries, land title and the absence of conflicts within the community. This means an unoccupied title opens a window for land use by migrants.
The main concerns and the key motivations for the colloquium are to assess the implementation of forest tenure reforms in Uganda, despite reforms in land tenure systems and the subsequent adoption of the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act 15 years ago.
The colloquium will be sharing important lessons learnt and knowledge generated both at the local and national levels.
What work has been done in Uganda? Focus on the PPA analysis
During the implementation of forest tenure reforms in Uganda, a number of challenges were observed including tedious processes to formalize rights, community inability to protect and safeguard forest tenure rights and poverty levels among adjacent communities. Implementers were concerned about the slow manner in which reforms were taking place.
Despite the adoption of the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act, there have been few assessments of tenure reform progress. The study examined tenure regimes and found that there were significant differences as far as clarity and fairness of rules. It is for this reason that Participatory Prospective analysis (PPA) was adopted, which revealed that state and non-stakeholders share a common interest in protecting forests.