Project Background

The Northern Uganda Project Overview

In 2010, the Landesa Center for Women’s Land Rights began working to improve the lives of rural women in Northern Uganda by strengthening their rights to land within the customary land governance system.

As part of this project, women in ten communities formed self-help groups that met each week. Led by local volunteers who were educated about women’s land rights and trained as facilitators, the groups learned about women’s rights to land under both the formal and customary land governance systems. These groups, with the help of the facilitators, discussed each participant’s land rights problem and identified possible paths forward. Women were trained in public speaking to equip them with a skill they would need to represent themselves and their cases in the traditional or formal system. Group facilitators also acted as advocates for women.

At the same time, traditional leaders – including women leaders, clan leaders, and local council members were also trained about women’s land rights under the customary and formal systems. Women leaders were specially trained in public speaking, and received ongoing mentoring to support their active engagement with women and their communities.

The groups met for one year, working independently and with their groups to improve their access to land.. These steps included mediation, household visits and facilitated discussions with leaders, and community outreach through drama performances, among other activities. The project empowered women by giving them tools, information, and confidence, and then supporting them as they spoke up in defense of their rights.

Because the project targeted and strengthened existing institutions and leaders within the customary system, its impact continues even after the project’s conclusion. Since the project ended last year, women leaders continue to work with women to understand and support their land issues, and project participants – equipped with a clear understanding of women’s rights under the customary system – now serve as resources for their own communities.

Using the lessons and insights gained from the pilot implementation, the project aims to inform broader advocacy efforts in Uganda and other developing countries in which women face barriers to secure land rights. Landesa has developed a framework for assessing women’s land rights situation, and devising effective and responsive interventions to strengthen women’s land rights under custom. [View our Women’s Land Rights Framework]. In addition, Landesa has created a comprehensive Toolkit that provides a step-by-step guide for practitioners to implement projects that aim to strengthen women’s land rights under custom. View our Toolkit

Landesa History in Uganda

Landesa began working in Uganda in 2001 with an analysis of the land sector on behalf of the government of Uganda. The analysis included research on the impact of recent land reforms on women and orphan’s inheritance rights, land fragmentation, and land consolidation. Recommendations from this report were included in the Ugandan Government’s Plan for the Modernization of Agriculture and Land Reform Implementation Plan. Beginning in 2010, Landesa and USAID designed and implemented a conservation and property rights project.

Our Partners

Women and Rural Development Network (WORUDET)


WORUDET was formed by a group of women activists in 2003 to help women in northern Uganda recover from the conflict. Today it works to create a community that is inclusive for women, men and children by addressing social injustices such as gender-based violence, negative cultural and discriminatory practices and by promoting socio-economic opportunities.


Associates Research Trust Uganda (ARU)

Associates Research Trust Uganda logo

Associates Research Trust Uganda was set up in 2003 to undertake action, scholarly and evaluative research on contemporary questions of policy and practice relating to land tenure, natural resource use and management, agriculture and livelihoods. Since then, Associates has developed unparalleled reputation as an independent research and knowledge creation center in Uganda. In 2010, it was acknowledged as the leading research institution supporting the development of policy over land and natural resources in Uganda by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.