Participation and Opportunities for Women's Economic Rights (POWER) is a two year project(2019-2021) implemented by three partners, NAWAD and National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) based in Uganda and Womankind Worldwide based in the UK with funding from UKAID. The project aims at strengthening eco-feminist movements through four districts of Uganda to actively promote and protect women's land rights, land ownership and livelihoods and gain access to justice to advocate for policy change.
A land rush erupted in Amuru district between the West Acholi Cooperative Union and one of Katatyer Parish, Lajago A Village, Layima sub-county due to forceful land evictions. The Union basically does crop farming and grows maize, cotton, sim-sim, sorghum, rice and soya beans on large scale. The Cooperative claims to have acquired a 49 yrs lease on land measuring 2,811.96hectares on 1st January 1984 and says that occupants on the land are squatters. On the other hand the community claims that the cooperative has been extending boundaries into their ancestral land and involving Uganda People's Defrence Forces(UPDF) to forcefully evict locals off their land without any compensation leaving them landless with no means of livelihoods. Several meetings between the aggrieved community people of Katatyer and the local leaders but this has painfully not led anywhere. On paper are land documents from the West Acholi Cooperative Union which seem to contradict each other showing different acreages and different maps and boundaries of the land. Community Elders are saying that the Union forged land ownership documents by using names of the deceased persons to fraudulently grad land.
Based on that background NAWAD organized and conducted an advocacy event in Layima eviction grounds with the aim of raising awareness on land rights and unlawful land evictions to improve land security and productivity in Amuru district. Participants included women whose land was grabbed and those at a risk of loosing their land, community elders, and land queens based in Amuru (land queens are community based land advocates that were trained in advocacy on women's land rights and are committed to supporting fellow women on reporting, following up and support on land issues). A community dialogue that increased women's knowledge on their land rights and responsibility to combat land grabbing and encroachment was conducted. This was followed by a motorcycle caravan and match to Amuru district headquarters while holding up placards with different messages demanding district officials and other land actors to take action against the forceful land evictions and arrests by the West Acholi Cooperative Union. Some of the messages were reading "STOP Women's Land Abuse", "Land grabbing must STOP", "leaders where are you?", " No Land, No Food, No Life" and others. This event was conducted with full support from the Resident District Commissioner of Amuru and with maximum protection by the Police. A petition paper was presented to the district LC V chairman, Mr. Lakony Michael who committed to arranging a planning meeting with the Area land committee on the way forward in a week's time, send the district land surveyor to survey the land and come up with clear land demarcations. A team of 7 members comprising of 5 women and 2 men from the participants was elected to follow up and represent the community in the upcoming sittings. NAWAD Liaison officer too shall be expected to attend.