land dispute uganda honduras returnees

In Uganda, Honduras, People Battle to Death for Land
rural workers land rights land grab land titles laos ground rent nigeria bamboo

In Laos, Nigeria, Governments Give Deeds, Get Rents

Some places you can buy land but elsewhere you must fight for it -- until owning and owing are clearly understood. We trim, blend, and append five 2012 articles from: (1) BBC, Apr 18, on Honduras; (2) IRIN, Apr 19, on Uganda; (3) IRIN, Apr 16, on titles; (4) Vanguard, Apr 20, on Nigeria by Festus Ahon Ughelli; and (5) a colleague, Apr 22 on a new publication by Alanna Hartzok.

by BBC, by IRIN, by Vanguard, and by Alanna Hartzok

Thousands of rural workers in Honduras have occupied land as part of a dispute with large landowners and the government.

The coordinated invasions took place in several locations across the country. Farmers groups say the areas taken over are public lands where poor farmers have the right to grow food under Honduran law. The government said the seizures were illegal and targeted private holdings.

Violent disputes over farmland are common in Honduras, with dozens of rural workers killed in recent years.

Organisations representing rural workers say successive governments have failed to fulfil promises to distribute farmland using agrarian reform legislation.

They also accuse the authorities of acting in the interests of large landowners.

To read more

JJS: It’s not surprising that governments side with landowners since it was not too long ago that governments evolved from landowners.

So far in 2012, at least five people have been killed in violent land disputes in the northern district of Amuru. Two more people were killed, in late 2011, in neighboring Nwoya District.

Presently there are at least five disputes between ten communities in the region.

The resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Lamwo District has also been hampered by land disputes.

These communities are part of an estimated 1.8 million people in northern Uganda who were forced into protected villages by the army; they began returning home in 2006 when the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) moved into neighboring countries.

But some of the returnees found their land, which they had presumed was lying idle, occupied by strangers, family members with no rights to the land, and people who left the protected villages before those with rights to the land.

With few if any possessions to start a new life, land has become a very prized and fiercely defended possession for the returnees.

Uncertain boundary demarcations such as trees and stone markers, which may have been lost or shifted over the years of conflict, have exacerbated land disputes, as has the presence of a youthful regional population with an estimated median age of 14 for females and 13 for males.

Land in northern Uganda is held under customary tenure. The lack of official land ownership documents is one of the reasons people fear losing their land.

The government is currently issuing customary ownership certificates in parts of the region; but this is drawing mixed reactions.

Statutory and customary land laws contain ambiguities. During the civil war this allowed some powerful individuals to claim legitimate rights over some communal land.

The allocation of land in parts of northern Uganda to investors has exacerbated residents’ fears of land-grabbing. Some of the fears may be genuine while others are fuelled by politicians.

To read more

JJS: Some governments, those that evolved from wars against landowners, have found it somewhat easier to take the side of rural people.

With pressure on natural resources increasing in Laos, the first community land titles granted to five villages in Vientiane Province could provide a national model for environmental protection while safeguarding the livelihoods of villagers.

The title deeds cover an area of 2,189 hectares of bamboo-producing forest. After a two-year process the land was finally handed over to the five villages in Sangthong District, 50km west of the capital, Vientiane, in February.

In the last five to 10 years there have been more and more competing interests seeking control over natural resources.

Trees once spread across 70 percent of Laos, but this has now been reduced to just 40 percent. The decline in forest cover not only has wide environmental impacts but also affects rural incomes.

Giving ownership of more of the land to the villagers who earn their living from it could be critical to the government’s stated ambition of restoring forest cover to 65 percent of the country by 2015.

To read more

JJS: While getting a respected title helps one become a landowner, so does paying rent to one’s community, even more so.

Delta State Government has reminded land occupiers of their obligation to pay annual ground rent, expected to be paid on the first working day of January each year. Defaulters are advised to submit receipts of payment to the Head Office, Asaba, or any of its field offices across the state.

State Commissioner for Lands, Survey, and Urban Development, Mr. Patrick Ferife, said: “Government allottees and private land owners with Certificate of Occupancy, and other land users are advised to pay up within 30 days or risk having their C of O revoked or premises sealed by government.

“A task force on ground rents collections has been constituted to visit special property such as hotels, filling stations, factories, estates, to ensure compliance with this directive,” he added.

To read more

JJS: The reform of paying one’s community for land while not paying taxes to government for any reason politicians can come up with has a new voice.

We are delighted to inform you that the first edition of Earth Rights Review -- News and Views from Africa -- is now online and ready for you to read! To read more

The intention of the review is to provide information and analysis that will help liberate production from taxation, the earth from monopoly, and humanity from poverty.

Our congratulations to Editor Gordon Abiama and Assistant Editor Audu Liberty Oseni for creating such a fine and informative publication. We look forward to many more!

Gordon and Liberty welcome your submission of articles to future issues.

Please tell your friends and colleagues to land there, too!

JJS: The new publication is at the site of the Earth Rights Institute which also offers classes for deeper understanding of geonomics.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

Feudalism in Pakistan, Communalism in Uganda

When the value of good land rises …

The Global Economy's Corporate Crime Wave

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