After decades of war and dislocation to IDP camps, people in Northern Uganda have now returned home. The transition is marred by a pervasive legacy of mistrust in institutions of governance, linked to camp experiences and conflict. This is particularly evident in relation to land; population has increased, the customary system of land entrustment has been disrupted and new borders must be negotiated. In one sub-county 30% of families report that they are currently in a land conflict. Sensitivities about land are further inflamed by fears of alienation linked to the new oil industry and large-scale commercial agriculture. Mistrust is exacerbated through interweaving land disputes and other conflicts that challenge both new and ‘old’ governance institutions. Mitigating these conflicts and building trust is crucial to preserving the fragile stability achieved after the civil war.
Our research examines links between land, trust/mistrust and governance with emphasis on gender and generation. We explore how differently positioned people manage, mitigate and engage conflicts in a setting of co-existing formal and parallel legal authorities. Case studies include: claims to land based on descent; women’s rights to land and security; individual and communal rights in relation to commercial interests; the discourses of traditional vs universal human rights in relation to property. We compare the bases of trust in clans, customary leadership, NGOs, religious organizations and government agencies.
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