With nascent independence, Southern Sudan is slowly establishing institutions and policies for effective governance. The weak institutions and continuing conflicts over land access and claims are exacerbated by a number of issues, including overlapping or unclear political authority for land administration and rights; unregulated urban expansion onto claimed land; land-grabbing by powerful or politically well-connected groups and individuals; and poor recognition and protection of the rights of women, youth, and other vulnerable groups to own property and/or access land and other natural assets.
Land Tenure and Property Rights (LTPR) are a key component of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the civil war between northern and southern Sudan in 2005. The importance of establishing a secure environment for land and property rights and the recognition of customary tenure regimes are reflected in the 2009 Land Act and the draft land policy.
Tetra Tech ARD implemented the 2-year USAID-funded Sudan Property Rights Program (SPRP). The SPRP collaborated with the Southern Sudan Land Commission (SSLC) to undertake an extensive process of public consultation and research, the results of which informed the draft land policy to ensure its relevance and legitimacy to Southern Sudanese stakeholders. Ongoing difficulties in administering land, recognizing property rights for all holders, and resolving land disputes demonstrated the need for a comprehensive and inclusive consultative process that included policy makers, traditional and religious authorities, national and international stakeholders, and communities. The SSLC, with USAID assistance through the SPRP, has produced a draft land policy that reflects the results of that consultative process and provides a framework and direction for further land related statutory, administrative, and judicial development.
On February 18, 2011, Tetra Tech ARD and USAID held a formal ceremony with the Southern Sudan Land Commission to officially handover the final draft of the land policy. The policy’s objectives are to enhance land tenure security, land use planning, and land administration and management in Southern Sudan. The promulgation of a GoSS land policy and laws is a fundamental step in building a formal, legal basis for the administration of land tenure, mediation of land-related conflicts, and regulation of land transactions in Southern Sudan.