BUNYORO OIL-HOST COMMUNITIES EXPRESS ENVIRONMENTAL AND LIVELIHOODCONCERNS AS CNOOC SEEKS APPROVAL TO DEVELOP KINGFISHER OIL FIELD

In Mid-June this year, Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) organised public hearings in Kikuube and Hoima districts to get the public views about Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for Kingfisher oil field in Kikuube district.

The ESIA report that was submitted by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Uganda Ltd to National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) was seeking approval to kick start commercial oil developments in the area.

CNOOC Uganda which was licensed to operate Kingfisher oil field contracted Golder Associates and Eco to conduct ESIA on the development of the oil field.

The public hearings were overwhelmed by public concerns of environmental degradation and threatened community livelihoods by displacements, lack of jobs and failure to get market for locally produced goods.

Locals and leaders asked government and oil companies to improve community livelihoods, enhance environmental protection and community benefits from oil projects.

Kadri Kirungi, the Hoima district Chairperson said that those affected by oil projects are miserable due to lack of financial literacy skills to improve their livelihoods.

“People who were displaced in the land earmarked for the oil refinery received a lot of money for compensation but today they are the poorest in the district,” Mr. Kirungi said.

The district chairperson also asked government and oil companies to give primary consideration for jobs and business to communities hosting oil developments so that they benefit.

“Poverty has hit us despite having these projects. Please change and give us economic benefits,” he said.

Buhaguzi county Member of Parliament, Daniel Muhairwe noted that speculators are grabbing land, which has pushed residents to the wetlands and forests for survival. He asked government to give land titles to customary land owners who are being displaced by speculators who he said are obtaining titles fraudulently.

“If a person’s land is grabbed, he will not fail to encroach on a wetland or forest for survival,” he lamented.

Betty Bagadila, a resident of Kaiso-Tonya in Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district said the report did not address challenges of women such as long distances to fetch water and firewood.

“Natural forest cover is being degraded by the oil developments and even some water sources have been affected. This has a great bearing on women who are responsible for collecting firewood and water. They are already walking long distances for the same. So, how shall we as rural women benefit from the project yet you are not addressing our challenges,” Ms. Bagadila asked.

Others expressed concern that CNOOC Uganda did not outline how it planned to avoid or mitigate the effects of oil spill on Lake Albert, its catchment and other ecosystems.

The Retired Bishop of Bunyoro Kitara Diocese, Reverand Nathan Kyamanya noted, “I expected risk management for unplanned events to be included in this report because it concerns my life. They are telling us that they have it in mind but we want it here because we want to know.”

NEMA Deputy Executive Director, Christine Akello agreed that the oil spill threats are real but she observed that they could be avoided with proper plans.

The Kingfisher ESIA report states that during the development of project, there is a risk of water, soil and air pollution, degradation of vegetation, displacement of people and disturbance of previously unidentified cultural sites.

FULLY-FLEDGED COMMUNITY GREEN RADIO EXCITES LISTENER’S CLUB MEMBERS

For four years, Community Green Radio was operating through affiliation with Liberty FM in Hoima. It would broadcast from Thursday to Sunday from 1.00pm to 3.00pm. But this is history! For one year now, the radio is fully operational with its own home, frequency and studios.

At the frequency of 103.9 FM, the radio broadcasts live and clear, daily not only with radios but also online.

This has excited listeners club members who have seen it outgrow affiliation; and had for long demanded for a fully-fledged radio to be able to have enough time to advocate for environmental Conservation and human rights.

Karuhanga Moses, the chairperson of Butimba listeners club says he is happy that the radio broadcasts daily. He says the members now can go on radio anytime to discuss issues affecting their areas; not like those days where they were limited to specific time.

“We are happy that now the members can go on air anytime they wish not like those days when they would have to wait for time between 1.00-3.00 pm. Am happy with National Association of professional Environmentalists (NAPE) for adhering to our demand,” he noted

He adds that, “more voices of local communities will be amplified to actively participate in natural resources management, especially in Bunyoro region which is already fighting with challenges related to oil developments.”

Norah Bahongye, a member of Kigaaga listener’s club says she is happy to listen to her favorite women’s program-Nyinabwenge in evening time when she has retired from her day’s duties on Saturday.

“This radio has changed the lives of many women. We know our rights, we have engaged in planting trees to conserve the environment, and we have income generating activities, it’s good that Nyinabwenge program has been put at a time when many people are at home and are able to listen,” she says.

Last year, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) purchased Radio Kiboga FM which is being rebranded to Community Green Radio. This followed demand from listeners’ club members.

The radio started with 11 listener’s clubs from Hoima, Kikube and Buliisa Oil-rich districts. Currently, more listeners clubs have been created in districts of Kyankwanzi and Buliisa.

The radio has been operating with listener’s clubs for they work as a link between community members and the radio.

MEN ARGUED TO PROMOTE RIGHTS OF WOMEN

As the world commemorates mothers’ day, men have been called up to create an enabling environment for women to enjoy their rights to the maximum.

The call was made by Mr. Patrick Nsubuga, the Kiboga District community development officer, CDO, while appearing on the weekly gender show, Nyinabwenge on Saturday last week.

“Men should stop violating the rights of women especially in regards to forced sex, battering them and denying them food”, Mr. Nsubuga explained.

Mr. Nsubuga said government has put in place various laws that facilitate the enjoyment of rights by women, citing Article 33 of the constitution of Uganda. Article 33 guarantees rights of women to full and equal dignity of the person with men.

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhoodmaternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

The day is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May. It complements similar celebrations honoring family members, such as Father’s DaySiblings Day, and Grandparents Day.

The modern Mother’s day began in the United States, at the initiative of Anna Jarvis in the early 20th century.

Uganda’s 2016 police crime report showed that defilement cases alone rose by 34 percent, from 13,118 in 2015 to 17,567 in 2016. Defilement is the act of having sex with girls under 18. Rape cases reported, according to the report, also increased, from 1,419 to 1,572.

A 2015 report by the International Justice Mission indicates that 40% of widows experience actual or attempted property grabbing in their lifetime. More than 30% of widows are victims of property grabbing. In many cases the widows spoke of perpetrators (usually relatives of their deceased husbands) threatening and physically assaulting them and sometimes making attempts on their lives and those of their children.

According to statistics from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), out of 1,594 new rape and 7,618 defilement cases reported in 2015 and 2016, only 57% brought punishment to the perpetrator. Such a low number gives others a sense of impunity, and in so doing exacerbates violence against women.

The police and Ministry of Health—the two leading public institutions in GBV response—spend an estimated UGX 37.7 billion (about $10.4 million) annually dealing with GB.

Community Green radio has been running the gender show since 2014 when the radio started. The show is aimed at uplifting the status of women especially the rural women. The radio has since expanded it coverage to cover more districts including among others Hoima, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Buliisa and Kikuube.