Renegotiating customary tenure reform – Land governance reform and tenure security in Uganda
until further notice
Number of pages
SourceLand Use Policy, 39, (2014), pp. 292-300
Article / Letter to editor
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Land Use Policy
SubjectDistributional Conflicts in a Globalizing World: Consequences for State-Market-Civil Society Arrangements
In academic and policy debates on how to effectively secure land tenure, an uncompromising belief inthe need to formalize and title landownership has increasingly given way to an acknowledgement of thecontributions non-state, ‘customary’ or otherwise local institutions may make in securing tenure. How-ever, the question remains as to how different tenure systems may most effectively complement eachother. This paper argues that the debate needs to give more attention to the local dynamics and politicsof tenure reform, and how reforms are locally renegotiated as part of local institutional competition. Itreflects on the case of Uganda, where legislation and policies over the last 15 years have promoted formal-izing land titles and modernizing land law in combination with recognizing customary ownership andland governance. Fieldwork in Mbarara District in South-western Uganda shows that, although reformsdelay, they increase institutional multiplicity and fuel contestation among local authorities and aboutthe norms applied. Rather than strengthening local mechanisms to make small customary landownersmore tenure secure, renegotiating of the reforms results in delegitimizing customary authorities and thereforms do not succeed in ‘modernizing’ the customary rules and conventions applied. Moreover, reformsfail to generate confidence in both statutory and customary land governing authorities as protectors ofsmallholders’ claims to land.
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