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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Land governance and boundary disputes in South Sudan and northern Uganda

In September 2014, a conflict erupted between South Sudanese and Ugandans in the borderlands of Kajokeji County, South Sudan and Moyo District, Uganda. Several people were killed, many more injured and thousands displaced.

On 16 June 2016, the authors launched the Rift Valley Institute publication, Dividing Communities in South Sudan and Northern Uganda, in a public lecture at Makarere University in Kampala.


In the report, the authors Cherry Leonardi and Martina Santschi argue that the boundary dispute is not simply a failure of governments to define and demarcate this stretch of the international border, but needs to be understood in the context of changing land values, patterns of decentralisation and local hybrid systems of land governance.

Based on historical and empirical research in South Sudan Uganda, the book examines how the rise in the value of land is fuelling land-grabbing, distorting longer-term patterns of land tenure, and promoting exclusionary land rights. It explains how hybrid land governance mechanisms have the potential to contribute both to the causes and to the resolution of boundary disputes.


Cherry Leonardi
​Durham University

Martina Santschi

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