Registering land was one of the biggest challenges in Uganda until the intervention of World Bank through the Competitiveness and Enterprise Development Project (CEDP). Interview with Ms Dorcas W. Okalany, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development
What necessitated the implementation of the land component under the World Bank supported Project called CEDP?
Until 2013, the land registry in Uganda run a manual system of record keeping. As the numbers of records and transactions grew from just a few transactions in 1908 to more than 1,000 transactions per day at a centralised location in 2010, it came with challenges and a big public outcry. There were issues of inefficiencies, inadequate space, laborious and bureaucratic and long processes, which were prone to human error such as loss of documents, made land transactions a nightmare to clients. The government noticed that these were fundamental issues with far reaching impact not only on the economy but also compromised security of tenure. The reforms and the computerisation of the land management system therefore was a response to these challenges.
What areas in land management are being tackled under this project?
The most critical land reforms are being implemented. They include the installation of the Land Information System, which has decentralised service delivery and digitalised the land records, issuance of freehold titles to land owners, protection of customary land, provision of capacity building interventions for land administrators to work within conducive environments, the development of National Physical Development Plan (NPDP) that has never been done since independence and public awareness on the new procedures and processes for executing land transactions.
What have you achieved and what do you aim to achieve under CEDP?
The hallmark of the land reform is creating an enabling environment for business enterprises to transact and invest. It starts with a basic function like a search for title details. It now takes not more than two hours to issue a search letter from the government One Stop Shop located at Uganda Registration Services Bureau. While this may seem basic, timely feedback and transparency is important for business in ascertaining land ownership. We have opened 13 Zonal offices in Kampala, Wakiso Mukono, Jinja, Mbarara, Masaka, Lira, Kibaale Kabarole. Gulu, Arua, Masindi and Mbale to reduce on time spent by the private sector and land owners coming to headquarters to carry out land transactions. We are extending service delivery to eight others including Moroto, Soroti, Tororo, Luwero (Bukalasa), Mityana, Kabale, Rukungiri and Mpigi. The entire infrastructure to deliver this has been successfully tested to improve land administration, land use planning functions, including development of GIS databases and preparation of physical development plans at the national, regional, district and local levels. We are building capacity for land valuation functions, including reviewing the policy and legal framework, developing valuation data bases and systems and collecting field data, developing capacity in the public and private sector.