Securing the customary tenure rights of forest-dependent communities in Lamwo district, northern Uganda: Insights from participatory prospective analysis

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Key messages

  • Lamwo district, which before 2009 was part of the Kitgum district in northern Uganda, provides an interesting case of a post-conflict customary forest tenure system under a situation of changing forest governance, as forest tenure reforms introduced since 2001 give local communities extensive rights to forests. This is particularly important as the region continues to recover from the conflict that ended in 2006.
  • In 2015, forest stakeholders took part in a Participatory Prospective Analysis (PPA) exercise that identified the determinants of forest tenure security in the district as: forest governance; the role and capacity of key stakeholders (particularly NGOs and customary institutions); an increasing demand for forest products; and pressure to convert forest land to large-scale agriculture.
  • Based on their explorations of the implications of these driving forces, the participant stakeholders developed one desirable and three undesirable future scenarios of forest tenure security.
  • The desirable scenario sees: a well-informed and active local community, which is aware of its forest tenure rights; an affordable forest land registration process that is not too bureaucratic; positive political influences; and a well-funded and -staffed district government that oversees and coordinates the work of NGOs, customary leaders, politicians and other stakeholders involved in forest tenure reform implementation.
  • The three undesirable scenarios share the key features of corrupt local government, disinterested NGOs, disempowered local people, weakened cultural institutions (resulting in increasing conflicts and unresolved forest and land conflicts), and an expensive, bureaucratic forest and land registration process.
  • Participants recommended seven initiatives to promote forest and land tenure security under customary systems in Lamwo district: 1) formulating and implementing bylaws; 2) creating forest conservation committees for each clan, to ensure proper management of their forest areas; 3) proactive community participation in decision-making, particularly in regards to women's rights and involvement; 4) popularizing, simplifying and translating documents into local languages, including guidelines on registration and declaration of customary forests; 5) regulating harvesting rates for forest products (especially timber), 6) improving the system for registering forest and land areas; and 7) undertaking capacity-building initiatives.
  • The PPA exercise revealed state and non-state stakeholders share common interests in protecting the forest and land tenure rights of forest-dependent communities under customary tenure systems in Lamwo district. Stakeholders pledged support for improved implementation, collaboration and coordination, to achieve the shared goals of forest tenure security for rights holders in Lamwo district by 2025.


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