Home Institution

Macalester College

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Uganda and Rwanda: Post Conflict Transformation


This paper presents the various dynamics, causes, and consequences of land conflicts in Acholiland. In order to comprehensively address these complex issues, this paper analyzes land conflict in connection to the Northern Uganda war, explaining the military strategies that resulted in widespread displacement and alienation from the land. This paper further explores changing Acholi cosmology and customary land law in connection to land alienation. Additionally, I examine local land conflicts as well as three privatization and “development” plans in relationship to preexisting land displacement issues. This paper highlights the opinions of my fieldwork participants regarding the importance of land to Acholi people, customary land law, and the future for Acholis if widespread land alienation continues.

In order to explore these complex and intertwined conflicts, I carried out in-depth interviews with nine informants in the Laroo Division of Gulu District. Additionally, interviews were held with local experts in field related to my research, including a local politician, an NGO worker, a professor at Gulu University, and the executive committee of the Gulu Concerned Land Owners Association. To complement this fieldwork, I reviewed academic literature related to land issues, the armed conflict, and current privatization plans.

Through my research, I argue that the consequences of pending land privatization schemes will have the same result as the armed conflict on the Acholi people: alienation from the land, homelessness, poverty, malnutrition, and death. Acholis rely on their customary land as the privatization as the primary source for economic and cosmological survival; in the opinion of the majority of my interview participants, displacement from their land will result in the widespread inability to support current and future generations of Acholis and, ultimately, the potential decimation of the population.


Peace and Conflict Studies | Place and Environment

Article Location