February 24, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s cabinet has adopted a long awaited land policy which will address issues pertaining to land acquisition and its management in the new nation.
The new policy will address post-war conflict over land rights, informal settlements in cities and towns, as well as conflicts over access to land with pasture and water.
Land grabbing, which is the acquisition of land without regard for the interests of existing land rights holders, and disagreements regarding boundaries between counties and payams (districts) will also be addressed by the policy.
The policy was presented by the chairperson of the South Sudan Land Commission, Robert Lado, at a Council of Ministers meeting on Friday, chaired by vice-president Riek Machar.
The policy adopts a number of guiding principles which include security of land rights, equitable access to land and provision of security and diversity in tenure types.
The policy has divided land into three categories: public, private and community-owned lands.
Unclear land policy has been blamed for scaring off investors and encouraging land grabbing for many years to the lack of proper channels and procedures for the acquisition of land by individuals and institutions.
The new policy recognises the importance of individuals acquiring land and providing them with tenure security, which it says is essential to economic development in the country.
The government will also gazette land into agricultural lands and grazing lands for cattle, as well as national reserve forests throughout South Sudan.
Conflicts over the jurisdiction of Juba city, which is the national capital and equally claimed by both Central Equatoria state and Juba county, forced the national government last year to endorse the relocation of the capital to Ramciel in the centre of the country.