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St. John's College

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Program Name

Uganda: Development Studies

Abstract

In carrying out my independent study project on the issue of the Benet being displaced by the creation of Mount Elgon National Park, I had three main objectives in my mind. My first objective was to investigate and gain a balanced perspective of the effects of the Benet’s most recent eviction from Mount Elgon National Park. Secondly, I wished to analyze the government’s role as a duty bearer in compensating and resettling the Benet for their land. Lastly, I wished to explore the Benet Community’s options for redress within the legal system.

The methods I utilized included a literature review, informal conversations, semi-structured interviews and observation. I undertook the literature review mainly at the Uganda Land Alliance and the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, in addition to reading news articles and reports. In living with a Benet family in Kapchorwa for two weeks, I was able to directly observe the living conditions of those with uncertain land tenure and physically see the different boundaries during a transect walk. I was also able to utilize the knowledge of community members in drawing a map of the disputed areas. I conducted semi-structured interviews and also engaged in informal conversations with both Benet and non-Benet community members, including an e-mail correspondence with the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

My findings included a better understanding of the reasons for evictions and the problems the Benet have faced historically as a marginalized group. I discovered that although legally the Benet are entitled to the land as indigenous inhabitants, what is put down on paper and what is actually being upheld often differs. My findings also included the government’s plans for permanent resettlement and the Benet community’s own desires for permanent resettlement. There is an overarching need for the disputed land area to be officially degazetted in order for social development such as roads and schools to occur and for the Benet to have land tenure security.

Disciplines

Demography, Population, and Ecology | Human Geography

 

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