This week I am finishing my internship in Uganda. The week went by so quickly as I rushed to submit final projects and say my goodbyes to my friends here. My last project to finish was about different ways that the SAFE Program can contribute to the protection of customary land rights in Uganda. I took on the customary land report last, and I wish I had begun it much earlier in the summer. Customary tenure accounts for around 80% of land ownership in the country, but these rights are often ignored or abused. Because of this, it is difficult for many people to protect their land rights. Through my research I met many people working to protect customary rights, all with widely varying views on the topic, such as how best to protect land rights and whether a transition from the traditional oral system to written documentation is necessary. The one thing they always seem to agree on is that customary rights (which again account for 80% of land ownership in Uganda!) are being threatened. Protecting customary rights is essential for stability for the people who live on that land.
My coworkers organized a surprise breakfast for our final day in the office. It was really nice with baked goods, fresh fruit, and tea and coffee. A few people said words about us and the work we have done with the SAFE Program, and then we got to thank the SAFE Program for a wonderful internship and summer as well. Later, at the end of the day, we said our goodbyes. Even though we’ve only been here ten weeks, it has felt like home, and I’m sad to be leaving. I can’t wait until I get to come back to Uganda!