CES residents sensitised on land ownership rights

CES residents sensitised on land ownership rights
The posters on the walls meant to sensitise resident in Mangateen, Juba. [Photo: courtesy of Faida Ali]

An organisation has embarked on sensitising residents of Mangateen and other residential areas in Luri Payam of Juba County, Central Equatoria State, about their rights on land ownership.

Angelina Stephen Ban, a Project Coordinator for the organization Active Citizen South Sudan (ACSS), said they rolled out the door-to-door campaign due to rampant cases of land grabbing and fights over ownership in the area.

“We had to intervene to rescue our communities,” she explained in an interview in Juba.

The Land Matrix database, which compiles data on land grabbing from governments, companies, NGOs, the media and citizen contributions, has tracked about 2.5 million hectares of land grabbing in South Sudan since 2006.

Land grabbing is the acquisition of land without regard for the interests of existing land rights holders.

South Sudan Land Act 2009, a provision that regulates land tenure and protects rights in land, classifies land as public, community, or private affair and provides concerning the registration of rights in land.

The act also pays particular attention to the protection of customary land rights.

Nevertheless, Ban disclosed that the initiative was undertaken to correct land-related grievances as well as educate locals on Land Act, 2009 and other legal provisions that discourage fighting over lands. 

“We wanted our people to follow the right procedures for them to know exactly who they are supposed to reach in case of anything. They are not supposed to fight but they are supposed to solve the problem peacefully and in line with the right procedures,” she stated.

According to the activist, the land acquisitors and owners should attain legal documents as well as involve lawyers for land legality purposes.

Over 5,000 households were reached during the sensitisation campaigns, roadside displays and radio talk shows respectively.

Paul Ruot Juma, a resident of Mangateen revealed the community would now consider proper procedures of acquiring lands without more grievances.

“I believe we won’t have land issues again. The community really expected the land right sensitization and we are happy about it finally,” he said

“From now onwards, we are going to be solving our grievances in nonviolent ways. We would always negotiate, dialogue and also involve the community members in any land conflict,” Juma added.

Ban believes the campaign would better the community to live peacefully and in harmony.

“In the next two years, we are expecting everyone to be aware of the land rights and for them to know exactly what is expected of them when they are selling their lands, and also when they are buying a land,” she reiterated.

The advocate called on the communities to shun the land conflicts and regularly seek legal measures of land ownership as well as capitalize on the bill of rights.

The campaign was supported by the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).

Mangateen is home to more than 40,000 internally displaced persons in Juba located at the northern Terekeka road, Central Equatoria State.