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Bulakati Airstrip lands (Lukaya Airfield), Uganda

Residents living on the disused Bulakati Airstrip are protesting Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) moves to repossess the land. A leader of residents’ struggle against eviction was murdered.An industrial park on part of the land has been proposed.


Bulakati Airstrip, also referred to as Lukaya Airfield, is a disused airfield located in Lukaya town. In June 2008 it was reported that the army planned to evict people it claimed were ‘encroachers’ on Bulakati Airfield. Ssali Kiddu, Lukaya Town Council chairperson, said the affected people had not yet been notified about the planned eviction and was unhappy because of the uncertain future of developments that had emerged on a part of the land, including a multi-million market, a playground and a health centre[1]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Bulakati Airstrip lands (Lukaya Airfield), Uganda
State or province:Kalungu District
Location of conflict:Lukaya Town
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Urban development conflicts
Ports and airport projects
Military installations
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Bulakati Airfield was utilised as a training base between 1969 and 1979, then fell into disrepair[5]. An army detachment, Bulakati army barracks, was established on the land in 2009 to protect the airfield[2]. Plans to use the contested land for an industrial park were announced by the government in September 2017[8].

Project area:463.43 hectares
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:200 residents may face eviction
Start of the conflict:17/06/2008
Relevant government actors:Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF)
Lukaya Town Council
Lukaya Town Board
Ministry of Defence
Government of Uganda
Military Land Board
Masaka Armored Brigade
Uganda Land Commission
Kalungu District
Bamugemereire Land Commission
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Habitat International Coalition (HIC)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsLoss of access to airfield lands that are used as a footpath between Lukaya Town and several villages
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Violent targeting of activists
On 27th March 2018 the body of Mr Tamal Muhammad, resident of Bulukati and Lusango villages and leader of Bulakati residents’ struggle against eviction by UPDF, was discovered in a pool of blood. According to his colleagues he had been kidnapped and then killed.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Residents living on the Bulakati Airstrip lands may face eviction as Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) has moved to repossess the land and an industrial park on part of the land has been proposed. Some of the residents, often referred to by the military as 'encroachers', have lived on the land since the 1970s. Facilities including a health centre, market and a playground have been established on part of the land and the disused runway is used as a footpath. Residents demanded removal of an army detachment built on the disputed lands after a violent raid on Juma Cell village in March 2011. Three women were raped and other people were beaten and robbed. Witnesses identified UPDF soldiers participating in the raid and alleged a cover-up after a speedy conviction of only one soldier.
Sources & Materials

[1] Army Evicts Encroachers on Masaka Air Field Reserves, Uganda Radio Network (URN), 17/06/2008
[click to view]

[2] Lukaya Residents Demand Removal of Bulakati Army Detach, Uganda Radio Network (URN), 25/03/2011
[click to view]

[3] Alleged Army Raid on Lukaya Village Sparks off Demonstration, Uganda Radio Network (URN), 23/03/2011
[click to view]

[4] Army to evict 200 residents in Lukaya, Vanguard News, 22/02/2017
[click to view]

[5] State of Lukaya Military Airfield Appalling, Uganda Radio Network (URN), 24/02/2017
[click to view]

[6] Lukaya residents protest eviction, Daily Monitor, 02/03/2017
[click to view]

[7] Lukaya Town Council, Residents Bicker over Ghost Plots, Uganda Radio Network (URN), 03/03/2017
[click to view]

[8] Bulakati village, Habitat International Coalition (HIC), 18/09/2017
[click to view]

[9] Death of Land Activist Worries Lukaya Residents, Vanguard News, 28/03/2018
[click to view]

[10] Locals protest UPDF move to repossess Lukaya land, Daily Monitor, 26/03/2021
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded network, email: [email protected]
Last update28/04/2021
Conflict ID:5527
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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