Over the Last 15 Years, more than 35,000 people from 20 villages are homeless after being evicted from about 9,300 acres of land in Kiryandongo District to pave the way for large-scale farming. No one seemingly knows the exact year when the government allegedly gave the land to agricultural companies for large-scale farming. The government says the contentious territory was empty space and unoccupied public land but residents hold it under customary ownership.
The resident district commissioner (RDC), Mr Peter Debele, said “encroachers took advantage of the empty space” to settle in the vast fertile ranches. “They went there on their own without being allocated. So, the government has come out and allocated the land for serious farming activities,” the RDC said last week. Mr Debele added that the Government also directed the developers to compensate those who were found on the land. However, he did not reveal how much money was paid out as compensation. Agilis Partners, a US company, Great Season, a firm owned by Sudan nationals, and Kiryandongo Sugar Limited have acquired the land under leasehold, Mr David Isingoma, 83, who has been evicted from Kisalanda Village in Mutunda Sub-county, said he has lived in the area all his entire life. The father of 25, who owns cattle, among other properties on his 100-acre land, said the whole village has been fenced off and all villagers ordered to leave.
The evictions commenced last year without consent from residents, according to human rights activists.
Residents and human rights activists said tractors are currently pulling down schools, churches, banana plantations and homes. They said the evictions are being carried out with the help of police who do not have any court order. 14 primary schools, 20 churches and eight private health units have been demolished by the company, according to residents.