By William Madouk
South Sudan Land Alliance (SSLA), a network of civil society organizations on land, is pushing the parliament to enact a Land Policy to safeguard citizens’ land and resource rights.
On Thursday, September 21, 2023, the alliance met national Members of Parliament, Academia and other stakeholders to discuss modalities of how best land can be accessed.
Dorothy Drabuga, chairperson of the alliance aims to advocate and promote community access to land and natural resource rights, including raising awareness about gender equity.
She disclosed that they are now mapping civil society and community-based organizations on land all over 10 states in South Sudan.
“We shall also be working closely with the Standing Specialized Committee on Land at the National Parliament and other stakeholders like academia, the National Ministry of Land and Urban Development, and also the states,” she noted.
“So, we are going to work with everybody because the idea is to ensure that every citizen of South Sudan, whether you are a woman, a youth, or an old man, has their rights protected,” Drabuga added.
For her part, Jackline Benjamin Lado, the chairperson of the land committee at the national parliament, said land policy is an important asset to the country, adding that a lack of policy contributes to land woes.
“If there is no policy for the land, everyone will not do anything. As we see now in societies everywhere, in the cities, in the states, even in the capital, there are problems with the land. Land grabbing, but if there is land policy, land grabbing will not exist,” said Lado.
She said the parliament works to see to it that legislation is put in place to protect citizens’ rights to land ownership.
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General for SSLA, Wodcan Saviour Lazarus stated that the project is called ‘National Engagement Strategy’ with funding from the International Land Coalition and working together with stakeholders.
“The major activities in regard to some of these projects were looking at women’s access to land rights, which was one of the key activities that we used to do,” said Lazarus.
He added that the alliance did a series of trainings for local chiefs and community members on how they could promote women’s access to land rights in the community.
“We will be working closely with your office [the parliament committee on land] in order to ensure this land policy this time around is approved and becomes a document to reinforce other relevant land laws,” he stressed.
“Because land policy is very important, some of these challenges we are facing are simply because of the absence of this land policy,” he noted.
Early this month, the Vice President for Economic Cluster, Dr. James Wani Igga, hailed the National Land Policy as the masterstroke for reducing ‘‘excessive privileges in land ownership’’ in the country.
He said that policy would focus on the need for everyone to have land.
He made this remark during the closing of a three-day workshop on the final review of the Draft National Land Policy organized by the Ministry of Land, Housing, and Urban Development with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).