BULIISA COMMUNITIES WORRIED OF LOSING LAND AS GOVERNMENT PLANS TO ESTABLISH AN OIL CENTRAL PROCESSING FACILITY IN THE AREA

Communities in Ngwendo and Kigwera Sub Counties Buliisa district are currently gripped in fear and anxiety after government disclosed to them plans to establish an Oil Central Processing Facility (CPF) that requires 308 hectares of land. Total Plc is one of the Companies to work on project and its presence is already much felt in the area.


During a consultative meeting organized by National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) with the communities in the CPF prospective area at Kisomere Trading Centre in Ngwedo Sub County on 27th March 2017, the communities, most of whom derive their livelihood from agriculture, expressed fear of forced eviction and destruction of livelihoods to make way for the new developments.


WORRIED: Community members giving their views in a consultative meeting with NAPE Sustainability School Programme Manager Mr. Allan Kalangi in March 2017. Community members expressed concern over lack of information regarding the oil Central Processing Facility that government plans to establish in their area.

 
The CPF, which will be in an industrial area with operation camps, yards and access roads, will cover villages of Kasinyi, Kisomere, Uduk II, Kibambura, Mvule, Ajigo and Kirama. Other areas the facility will cover are Kigwera North East, South East, and Bukongoro in in Kigwera and Ngwedo sub-counties respectively.  The CPF is a production collection facility from various well pads where crude oil will be purified from. This is according to Resettlement Planning Information Document that was seen by the Community Green Radio.


The Ngwedo Sub County chairperson, Mr. Steven Kaliisa Munange, said about 50 families are likely to be affected by the new development in the two sub-counties. He said other oil developments in Bunyoro have left people suffering due to inadequate guidance and sensitization and expressed fear that similar mistakes could be repeated.


 “In the case of the oil refinery in Buseruka sub-county (Hoima District), many people who got cash compensation misused the money and are now living a miserable life while others who opted to be relocated have been delayed for years in Kabaale parish. We need to find solutions to such challenges together”, remarked Mr. Kaliisa.


During the meeting, communities raised concerns which included lack of adequate information on the new development which they said is contributing to the anxiety of the communities.


“I was told that the access roads will pass in my village but I am not yet sure where they will pass. We are just waiting and we don’t know whether we should continue cultivating or whether we should stop,” wondered Sophia Ajiku, the LCI chairperson for Ajigo village.


Ms.Topista Atugonza, a mother of eight from Mvule 1 village, who has been deriving her livelihood from agriculture, wondered whether her source of livelihood will thrive in case her land was to be taken for the CPF.


 “I have been growing cassava, maize and sweat potatoes in my fertile land. So in case I am relocated, will I get the same good land,”? asked Ms. Atuganza.
Allan Kalangi, the NAPE Sustainability School Program Manager challenged communities to have a common voice in issues related to human rights and also make duty bearers accountable.


“You need to organize yourselves in groups and get leaders who are able to present your grievances to relevant authorities. This can help you benefit from the project,” Kalangi said.


Mr.Kaliisa hailed NAPE for coming in time to sensitize people on their rights and urged them to continue guiding them.


“We need to be ready to benefit from the projects that are coming. And to achieve that, we need to adhere to sensitization meetings that come up. I need to thank NAPE and its local partners of Kakindo Orphans Care for starting this early.”


BACKGROUND
Oil companies in Uganda are now moving into the development phase having been issued with production licenses by the government in 2016. This phase will necessitate land acquisition for temporary access and permanent occupation as well as linear infrastructure such as roads and pipelines resulting into displacement of communities.


STORY COMPILED BY PRECIOUS NATURINDA

LOCAL COMMUNITIES EXPRESS DETERMINATION TO SAVE MPANGA FOREST RESERVE IN HOIMA

Mrs. Grace Karukuhe has been using Mpanga forest reserve for her livelihood. The 35 year old resident of Kitoro village in Kabwoya Sub County in Hoima district collects herbs, firewood, mushrooms and white ants from the forest for her family.


“As a woman, I depend on this natural resource for livelihood so I have to actively participates in all efforts to conserve it,” Mrs Karukuhe, a member of Mpanga Conservation Development Association narrates.


Mrs. Karukuhe is among over 100 residents from four villages of Kitoole, Kahembe, Nyakabaale and Kinsonsomya in Kabwoya who have teamed up to protect Mpanga forest from encroachers.


National Forestry Authority (NFA) has registered incidences of illegal timber harvesting, charcoal burning and clearing part of the forest for agriculture and settlement in forest reserves.


NFA officials believe that involving local communities is one of the best ways of curbing down illegal activities in forests because these communities highly depend on them for their livelihood and would have strong interest in their protection. In March this year, the communities under Mpanga Conservation Development Association signed a collaborative forest management agreement with NFA to access the forest to implement eco-friendly activities such as beekeeping but also to whistle blow information about illegal activities.


“We are so much interested in protecting this natural resource because it is the source of rain. Our vision is a well conserved environment contributing to improved community livelihood by 2036. And to achieve this, we have to, among others, report illegal activities, create community awareness, apprehend offenders and act as witnesses in court. We are determined to save our forest for our next generation,” says Steven Koojo, the chairperson of Mpanga Conservation Development Association.


Micheal Mugisa, the NFA Executive Director says conservation of forests starts with communities and urges them to work with conservation bodies to ensure that the forests in Uganda’s oil region are protected.


“The group has more than 100 people. If you all report illegal activities then we shall register success in protecting this forest. Climate change is real and we are soon starting oil production phase and it comes with its challenges,” said Mugisa while addressing the conservation group recently.


According to Keneddy Mugume, the coordinator for Midwestern Regional Anti-corruption Coalition (MIRAC), using the community participatory approach makes them own their endowed natural resource thus protecting it jealously.


“As MIRAC, we have over 70 volunteer community informants in areas that host forest reserves in Bunyoro who whistle blow illegal activities. Such community alertness has become the first line of responding to illegalities in the protected forests,” says Mugume.


Mpanga forest measuring 544 hectares in Kabwoya Sub County was gazetted in 1948 for the purpose of water and soil conservation; according to NFA


SUCCESS STORIES

Francis Madrama, the Kisindi Sector Manager says community members have been cooperative in reporting illegalities in forest reserves like Bugoma and some success has been registered.


“In December last year, I was formed that people from Kampala cut timber and store it in Nyaburende village in Kyangwali. We went and recovered 1430 pieces of timber. Early January this year, a Lorry, was also impounded carrying timber. All these cases are reported by community members,” explains Madrama.


He adds that, “the former Hoima Municipality Mayor, Francis Atugonza was arrested after clearing 239.1 hectares in Bugoma forest which he claimed to be of Ababyasi clan. This was also after a tip off from our informants.”


Situart Maniraguha, the Range Manager Budongo systems notes that there is too much pressure on forest reserves for illegal timber harvesting because indigenous trees on private land has been cut down.


National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) is working with communities in Kizirafumbi and Buseruka sub counties in establishing indigenous tree nursery beds and also planting the indigenous trees at household level.