Uganda’s path to empowering Land Tenure Security for all, through better access to land data

In Uganda, a data journey is underway, uniting data and land communities to secure land tenure, drive sustainable development, and ensure that no one is left behind.

With a growing population and the rapid urbanization of its rural areas, Uganda faces significant challenges in land governance and tenure security. Dispossession, forced evictions, disputes, and land grabbing have been affecting its communities. These issues not only widen the socioeconomic gap but also escalate poverty, food insecurity, and inadequate housing conditions.

However, amidst these challenges, the country is taking important steps to improve the living conditions of the 75 pe cent of its population residing in rural areas. Land, a fundamental aspect of human life, plays a pivotal role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It’s the key to eradicating poverty, ensuring food security, providing access to clean water, empowering women, offering adequate housing, and preserving our environment. Specifically, SDGs 1 and 5, with indicators 1.4.2 and 5.a.1, directly address land governance and tenure security. These indicators assess land tenure security by gender and type of tenure, through a degree of tenure modalities, and examine gender equality in access to agricultural land.

To navigate this complex landscape and understand the real dimension of the challenge, we need data. Disaggregated data and information on land tenure systems are essential for tracking progress towards achieving the SDGs and for crafting evidence-based policies at local, regional, and national levels. This data holds the key to improving the lives of individuals and entire communities, aligning with the vision of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind.

Responding directly to this need, the project “Disaggregated Land Indicators for Policies and Actions that Leave No One Behind in Africa” was established. Its mission is to strengthen the statistical and data capacity of five selected African countries, empowering them to produce and employ reliable, accurate, updated, and sex-disaggregated land data for evidence-based policy decisions. This project is not just in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), but it also aligns with the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and the Africa Agenda 2063.

Uganda is one of the project’s five targeted countries. In June 2022, a consultation workshop brought together national stakeholders, technical and financial partners, engaging them in a dialogue about the synergies required to produce and utilize reliable land data to inform policies and actions.

This past July 31 to August 04, 2023, Kampala once again served as the host to an insightful validation workshop, culminating this project. This renewed gathering of national experts in the fields of land governance and data built upon the discussions from June 2022. Hosted by GLTN through the Global Land Indicator Initiative (GLII), this collaborative effort highlighted the critical issue of land tenure security and its alignment with monitoring and reporting SDG indicators 1.4.2 and 5.a.1.

The workshop kicked off with a comprehensive assessment of Uganda’s legal and institutional framework related to land governance and tenure security. It delved into the capacity and accessibility of data collection and management, exploring the pre-existing data relevant to monitoring these two vital indicators. UN-Habitat, representing the network of custodians, including FAO and The World Bank, supported the group of experts in adapting the global methodology for monitoring these indicators to the Ugandan context.

The key takeaways revealed the challenges of acquiring comprehensive data on land tenure security, a constraint shared with many other countries. Yet, experts acknowledged Uganda’s legal and institutional mandates regarding land governance and tenure security while emphasizing the need for further support and effective implementation.

During the workshop, significant strides made by Uganda in incorporating critical questions about land tenure security into its national surveys were discussed. These represent crucial milestones towards strengthening data-driven decision-making. Furthermore, there was a spotlight on the growing demand for data related to land governance and tenure security.

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development (MLHUD), among other stakeholders, reaffirmed their commitment to closely collaborate with the custodian agencies. This collaboration will continue to enhance data collection and reporting on the designated indicators, providing the necessary information for well-informed land governance policies.

On their side, UN-Habitat, FAO and The World Bank will continue to strengthen their collaborations with Uganda, demonstrating their commitment to promoting the availability, accessibility, interoperability, and utilization of land data to inform people-centered and progressive policies.

Uganda is now equipped to collect and report data on SDG indicators 1.4.2 and 5.a.1, employing adapted tools and methodology tailored to its specific circumstances.