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Access to Land in Uganda

Article 237(1) of the Constitution states that land in Uganda belongs to the citizens of the country and Article 26(1) protects the right to own property either individually or in association with others.

Land is a primary source and crucial asset for households, especially women, who primarily depend on it for agriculture as well as other economic activities. Land ownership is thus critical for Women Empowerment.

A landowner is any Ugandan Citizen who owns or holds land under any of the following recognized systems of land holding: (Section 2 of the Land Act)

  • Freehold Tenure - land held/owned by an individual registered on the certificate of title as the land owner for life. There are no tenants by occupancy and Kibanja holders on this land.
  • Mailo Tenure - land held by a land owner which has its roots from the 1900 Uganda Agreement and 1928 Busullu Envujjo Law. Mainly in the Buganda region, both the land owner registered on the certificate of tittle and tenants by occupancy and Kibanja holders have interests on this land.
  • Leasehold Tenure - land owner allows another person to take exclusive possession for a specific period of three years or more in exchange for rent. A lease may be created either under a contract between the parties or by law. The person granted a lease must use the land for the specific purpose as agreed with the land owner. (Section 3(5) of the Land Act)
  • Customary Tenure - land is owned based on the norms and traditions of a given society or community. One can even own land individually under customary tenure as long as it has been handed down from generation to generation using that society’s customs. Special protection is accorded to the rights of women, children and persons with a disability to own, occupy or use customary land. (Section 27 of the Land Act)

Land lease/renting opportunities

For large scale economic investments, it is possible to lease land from the government. These opportunities are available from:

  • Uganda Investment Authority for Industrial Parks; and
  • District Land Boards
  • In addition, Cultural Institutions like Buganda Land Board can provide land under lease/rent for various activities.
  • Private arrangements to lease unutilized land can also be made for an agreed period of time.
  • Estates and Property agents can also be useful in identifying land that is available for rent

Women representation in land transactions 

Provisions of the Uganda Land Act, 2010:

  • Section 40 requires the prior written consent for both spouses in transaction involving family holdings, defined as land, on which the family ordinarily resides and from which they derive sustenance.
  • Section 28 prohibits decisions affecting customary land that deny women access to Ownership, occupation or use of any land, as well as decisions that impose conditions violating constitutional provisions protecting women.
  • The Land Act requires land management bodies and institutions to have female representation.
  • The Uganda Land Commission must include at least 1 female among its five members, one third of the membership of the District Land Boards must be female.
  • The Land Committees at parish level must have at least 1 female among its committee members.

Further guidelines: