Local leaders in Uganda under the District Non-Governmental Organizations Monitoring Committees (DNMC) from Buliisa, Greater Hoima, Kalangala and Buvuma districts have pledged to partner with National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) to protect people’s livelihoods, human rights and environment in areas affected by oil extraction and palm oil plantations.
The leaders made the commitment in early August during a meeting that comprised members of Internal Security Officers, Community Development Officers and secretaries for natural resources plus community members that work with NAPE from the respective districts.
The meeting that was held in Kampala was aimed at disclosing to monitoring committees the work of NAPE in communities affected by oil extraction and palm oil plantations.
During the meeting, NAPE Executive Director, Frank Muramuzi made a presentation on the vision, mission and objectives of NAPE and its emphasis on working with grassroots communities who are usually marginalized in the development process.
Mr. Muramuzi noted that NAPE is not against development but strives to ensure sustainable development that will benefit generations.
“If you take all the land for palm oil growing or oil developments, where will people go or what will they eat?? If all communities are replaced by development, who will you leaders lead? We want development, but development that puts into consideration community rights and sustainability of generations to come,” Mr. Muramuzi explained.
The Director also called upon the monitoring committee members to work with NAPE to protect the rights of communities and the environment.
“Big companies don’t mind about the inhumane situations people go through. That’s why we come in to help the people, so let’s work together. I invite you to monitor NAPE’s work in communities and you give reports,” he added.
The community members also explained to the leaders how NAPE is supporting them through sensitization and giving them small grants to help carry out environmental friendly activities for sustainable livelihood.
“We have used small grants from NAPE to generate income through environmental friendly activities like apiary, raising indigenous tree nursery beds and planting and distributing trees,” said Lucy Mbuubi from Butimba Sustainability Conservation Association in new Kikuube district.
During the meeting, the leaders watched a documentary “Seeds of the Oil Curse” that was produced by NAPE in 2017. The documentary highlights human rights abuses faced by displaced families in Rwamutonga in Bugambe Sub County in Hoima district following an eviction to pave way for an oil waste treatment plant.
Harriet Saawo, the District Natural Resources Officer for Kalangala said though developments are good, they come along with challenges that need to be addressed urging NAPE to strengthen partnerships with natural resources department in the district to find solutions.
“Developments come and they are good but when we do not address the negative challenges, that’s where we go wrong, and that’s what NAPE is trying to address,” she explained.
Bernard Baruhagahara, the Buliisa District Community Development Officer called upon NAPE to continue sensitizing communities especially on land management.
“The issue of people rejecting compensations has affected the progress of construction of the Central Processing Facility in Buliisa and oil companies have also started appreciating the power of communities. As the district we are committed to supporting NAPE and we still need your presence in Buliisa especially in land management because oil has a lot of challenges,” he said.
The Community Development Officer for Greater Hoima district (and Kikuube), Kenneth Ebong pledged to support NAPE in promoting the rights of communities.
Isaac Galigwango, the Buvuma District Community Development Officer said NAPE should put much emphasis on the memorandum of understanding signed between the districts and the organizations so that they can work together and create harmony with the government.
The District NGO Monitoring Committee (DMNC) was established under provision of NGO Act 2016.
COMPILED BY PRECIOUS NATURINDA