Land administration reform has the potential to be truly transformational for Uganda’s economy. Sound land policies are known to be a catalyst for the commercialization of agriculture. However, they are also essential for facilitating flows of private investment into industries, creating new jobs, and stimulating mobility and structural change, as well as ensuring well-functioning cities and sustainable resource use.Successful land administration reform could dramatically improve the attractiveness of Uganda for investors while protecting the land rights of local communities.
i) Agricultural Development. Sound land policies can facilitate growth in agricultural productivity via secure land tenure, which enhances opportunities for investment.
(ii) Industry Development. Significant opportunities could open up for the development of a number of sectors, for example, manufacturing. Currently, manufacturing firms in Uganda lack access to serviced industrial land. With improved access to land, manufacturing firms in Uganda would be able to construct warehouses, showrooms, and houses for workers, which would give a significant momentum to the industry.
(iii) Increased Employment. New investments and productivity sparked by increased and more secure access to land would mean new jobs; these are critical especially for the Ugandan youth, who have a high unemployment rate.
(iv) Improved Access to Finance. Improved access to land would enable firms and individuals in the private sector to secure loans using land as collateral.
(v) Enhanced Stability. Security of property rights and the ability to draw on local or national authorities to enforce those rights are central to preserving livelihoods and maintaining social stability in Uganda. Enhanced social stability would make Uganda more attractive to potential investors.
Although significant progress has been made by the Government in improving the business environment with support from the World Bank and other donors, there are still a number of weaknesses (constraints) that this operation seeks to address.
From 1971 through 1986, Uganda went through a prolonged period when its economy, infrastructure, and institutions were destroyed. Rehabilitation of the land sector started in 2002 with the initiation of the 10-year Land Sector Strategic Plan (LSSP 2002-2012). LSSP I had five objectives: (1) creating pro-poor land policy and regulations; (2) putting land to sustainable productive use; (3) providing more equitable distribution and secure access to land for vulnerable groups to improve their livelihoods; (4) improving accessibility and availability of land information for planning and implementing development programs; and (5) providing transparent, accountable, and efficient decentralized land administration systems.
Due to lack of funding, the actual implementation of the LSSP only started in 2005 when a World Bank-funded project was initiated. With World Bank assistance, the GoU started addressing the inefficient administration and poor security of the country’s land registration system, while also updating and strengthening the policy and regulatory framework for land management and administration. The land subcomponent of the Second Private Sector Competitiveness Project (PSCP II) primarily dealt with objectives (4) and (5) of the LSSP and supported the rehabilitation/construction of thirteen (13) local land offices (including the provision of equipment); the re-engineering and computerizing of land registration systems and records in six zonal land offices covering about 70 percent of the formal land market transactions; and rehabilitating the Institute of Surveying and Land Management, and training and equipping staff to run the systems and institutions. The project achieved significant progress in the areas of decentralizing and computerizing land registration systems. In particular, the intervention resulted in a reduction in the number of days to transfer property from 227 in 2006 to 52 in 2012. In addition, the initiative also rehabilitated the geodetic reference network and produced multi-purpose base maps for the areas covered by the six zonal land offices.
Preparation and Adoption of the Overarching Policy Framework for Land Administration and Management. This was essential for addressing the first three objectives of LSSP I, which deal with equitable and secure access to land and its productive use and pilot activities. Notable achievements were the support for: the National Land Policy, which was approved by Cabinet in February 2013; the National Land Use Policy, which was adopted in 2007, followed by the enactment of the Physical Planning Act 2010; the Mortgage Act 2009; and the Land (Amendment) Act 2010 to reduce illegal evictions. In addition, support was given to the preparation and drafting of nine bills, including the Registration of Titles Bill, the Land Survey Bill, the Land Surveyors Registration (Amendment) Bill, the Real Estate Agents Bill, the Condominium Property (Amendment) Bill, the Land Acquisition Bill, the Government Lands Bill, the Local Governments Rating Bill, and the Uganda Land Information Systems Bill. These bills are being finalized and processed for adoption; their implementation will be supported under the proposed project.
The piloting under LSSP I included: systematic titling of high-value rural land in Ntungamo, Iganga, Kibaale and Mbale districts using best practice, low-cost, and transparent approaches – average registration costs were reduced from more than US$200 to about US$23 per land parcel (compared to US$25 in Thailand which is known as best practice); and identification and surveying of government-owned land with a view to improving its management – the piloting was hampered by administrative bottlenecks and other technical problems, but it succeeded in surveying 1,086 government land parcels in four districts and also generated lessons that will inform future efforts (e.g., the need to exclude public sector functions from private contracting). Some initiatives were also undertaken to demarcate and register communal land especially in Northern Uganda under communal land associations as provided for by the Land Act – more than 50 communal land associations (CLAs) were organized, of which about 10 have been registered. These pilots will be scaled up under the proposed project.
It should be noted that additional interventions are needed to support implementation of the LSSP’s strategic objectives, which have been grossly underfunded. Out of the required US$80 million to implement the LSSP I, the PSCP II contributed about US$30 million, the funds available at that time; no other donor funding has been provided except for minimal Technical Assistance (TA) from the Department for International Development (DFID).
This project will address those issues which have been highlighted as priority areas for action in the second LSSP (2013-2022) and require a major boost, but have so far remained unfunded due to financing constraints. Such key areas include: registration/certification of communal lands in the North and East; registration of (fifteen) 15 million individual land parcels all over the country; piloting and scaling up improved land use planning models in strategic areas; and strengthening land dispute resolution. Interventions in these areas would help address a number of land administration issues including: (i) low documentation of land rights in rural areas – only 5 percent of rural land is registered and only 18 percent countrywide, leaving the vast majority of landholders vulnerable to land grabbing; (ii) a high level of land disputes; (iii) an inefficient land administration system that lacks transparency; (iv) a dysfunctional land use planning system; and (v) a high level of informality in urban areas, with about 60 percent of the urban population living in slums.
The proposed project builds upon the PSCP II, which helped improve the business environment: the land survey school was rehabilitated and re-opened; the land information system (LIS) was developed, installed and operated in a pilot scheme over an area that covers about two thirds of Uganda’s formal land markets; and (thirteen) 13 zonal land offices were built/renovated. Annex 14 of the Project Appraisal Document provides additional details on the results achieved by PSCP II.
The project is timely as the demand for an efficient and effective delivery of land administration and management services has grown tremendously and is expected to grow even much more and yet at the same time we need to address challenges in land administration including land dispute resolution, as we seek for growth, employment and socio-economic transformation of our people for prosperity.
CEDP Components – Overall Perspective
Component 1: Land Administration Reform – US$54 million
Component 2: Business Registration and Business Licensing Reforms – US$10 million
Component 3: Tourism Competitiveness Development – US$25 million
Component 4: Matching Grant Facility – US$8 million
Component 5: Project Implementation – US$3 million (Project Management of Land Component – US$1 million)
Component 1 of CEDP: Land Administration Reform – US$54 million
Sub-Component 1: Improving Land Administration (US$28.9 m)