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Sharing Land DRCSharing the Land is a peacekeeping initiative started by the Christian Bilingual University of Congo in January 2015. Funded by Texas A&M University’s Center for Conflict and Development (ConDev) and USAID’s Higher Education Solutions Network, the organization has made enormous strides in peacefully settling land disputes in one of Beni’s 30 quarters in eastern Congo.

Sharing the Land uses GIS and GPS mapping technology to compile land claim and conflict data as well as road names, neighborhood boundaries, geographic features and points of interest. Data comes from household surveys and government records. The maps are already being used to settle land disputes between individuals, families and large companies in Beni.

Archip Lobo, Sharing the Land’s project leader, grew up in eastern Congo amidst violence and severe abuse of human rights, much of which revolved around land disputes. Though the country has a tragic and ongoing history of violence, Lobo felt that land disputes were preventable and not a grounds for continued, unhindered violence.

Rampant conflicts over land began when King Leopold of Belgium usurped much of the land from Congolese chiefs and initiated a tyrannous rule over eastern Congo in the late 1800s. With a new form of governance entangled in the traditional ways of land management, violence became prevalent.

In the years since Congo gained its independence from Belgium on Jun. 30, 1960, the country has endured great instability, insecurity, corruption and pervasive violation of human rights. Removing land disputes as a cause for violence is a step in the right direction for bringing Congo towards a peaceful future.

Sharing the Land provides Beni with data-driven land management practices instead of relying on differing traditions or interpretations of inheritance rights. While the project aims to bring peace through nonviolent land dispute resolutions, it is also reducing disputes in the first place by making the information publicly available and educating all those involved in urban planning.

According to Texas A&M, 85 percent of court cases in Beni relate to land disputes. The Sharing the Land initiative is already making progress to reduce this statistic in Beni.

This project has two immediate benefits. First, official maps using government data help to standardize the land purchasing process. It also enables land managers to continue to add and update data on the stable ArcGIS platform so that land ownership can be accurately and reliably documented.

Aside from using GIS software to map the land, the Sharing the Land project is encouraging community leaders, government professionals, civil society organization representatives, lawyers and the greater community to collaborate in understanding the origins and consequences of land conflict and together engineer viable solutions.

To date, with the help of ConDev and USAID, Sharing the Land has mapped 531 land parcels and documented 29 conflicts. This year, the organization will collaborate with UN-Habitat to provide land management training to government officials in several Congo provinces in an effort to strengthen and standardize urban planning.

Sharing the Land envisions that this new aspect of the project will position a new generation of government officials to enforce and continue to develop peaceful and sustainable land management practices.

Mary Furth

Sources: IRIUCBC, Codev Center 1, USAID, Codev Center 2, USAID, Eastern Congo


According to a recent World Bank report, economic growth in Uganda may continue to develop if the country institutes better land management strategies. “A more effective system of land governance, including for registering land, strengthening institutions for resolving disputes and urban planning, will boost productivity and transform livelihoods in Uganda,” the report states.

The World Bank released the sixth edition of the Uganda Economic Update, entitled “Searching for the Grail – Can Uganda’s Land Support its Prosperity Drive?” It points out that improving land management will help Uganda to achieve commercialization of agriculture and urbanization.

In Uganda, around 20 percent of the total land is registered, which is higher than the average level of 10 percent for sub-Saharan African countries. However, the current system of land tenure makes it difficult to transform land uses to spur higher levels of productivity.

For starters, unclear property rights lead to difficulty in transferring ownership as well as a large number of disputes and conflicts. Due to the unclear land rights, 37 percent of individually owned land cannot be sold; 34 percent cannot be rented and 44 percent cannot be used as security for a loan.

Another problem is that current land policies and systems are too weak to efficiently implement urban planning and reduce the cost of infrastructure development in the country. The report states that compared with most major cities worldwide, which derive revenue from land to finance their infrastructure development, Uganda hasn’t fully applied land value capture tools, such as development fees, land auctions and property taxation, into its system of land management.

According to the World Bank report, Uganda’s population is expected to increase from 35 million to over 70 million by 2040, and there will be about 388 more people increased on every square kilometer of arable land. Uganda’s rapidly expanding population is putting pressure on land usage, especially in urban areas.

“With the fast-growing urban population, Uganda needs to enforce the existing policies to promote better urban land management that will allow them to build livable cities.” Said Christina Malmberg Calvo, World Bank Country Manager. “For Uganda, key among these would include land value capture to finance urban infrastructure.”

The report states that the Ugandan government can promote more efficient land use to support the healthy transformation of the agricultural sector and a shift towards higher value economic activities located in urban areas by taking the following four actions:

  • Strengthening institutions for land administration management
  • Accelerating the process of registration of land, including that owned communally, by religious and cultural institutions, and by government
  • Redesigning the Land Fund to enhance its efficiency and equity in supporting resolution of overlapping rights
  • Reviewing and prioritizing policy commitments to identify and close critical gaps such as in restrictions on rental markets, disincentives such as taxation for speculative holding of land, urban land use, and expropriation and compensation to promote equity and fairness in land transactions

According to Calvo, the Ugandan government has begun the process of systematically registering land and improving land information management. By accelerating these activities and the overall reform programs, she says the country would raise the share of land that has secure rights and ease the process of transferring land. These measures to improve land management will contribute to spur long-term economic growth and transformation in Uganda.

Shengyu Wang

Sources: Daily Monitor, World Bank
Photo: chebucto