NAPE WARNS OIL COMPANIES AND SECURITY AGENCIES AGAINST THE KIDNAPS OF OIL HOST COMMUNITIES

The Executive Director of the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Frank Muramuzi has expressed dismay over the kidnap of human rights activist, Stephen Kwikiriza, a resident of Nsunzu village, Buhuka parish Kyangwali Sub County in Kikuube district.

Kwikiriza, a member of Kingfisher Community that hosts Kingfisher oil fields developed by Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), was kidnapped in Kampala on June 4th under unknown circumstances only to be found abandoned on the road side in Kyenjojo district on June 9th in bad health after enduring beatings, mistreatment and abuse throughout the week.

Muramuzi looks at the abduction of Kwikiriza as a revenge for speaking out against human rights abuses due to the Kingfisher project.

Muramuzi believes that oil companies and government security organs have a hand in Kwikiriza’s kidnap since he had previously received threats from Uganda People’s Defense Forces deployed in Kingfisher.

Muramuzi is calling for accountability from all those involved in the kidnap of Kwikiriza.

“What kind of country is this where citizens are abused in broad day light by foreign corporates in the name of mining Oil and stealing their land and you expect these oil host communities to just look on?  Stand warned and know that People don’t eat your oil. You found them living ppeaceful sustainable lives without your oil and the time is ripe for you to pack your bags and take back these evils to your homes,” noted Muramuzi.

Muramuzi expressed disappointment that it’s only in Uganda where citizens live in displaced peoples’ camps even when there is no war.

“Let these stop otherwise, enough is enough! We shall follow oil companies even to their own home governments so that they pay for the evils they have inflicted on oil host communities. Total Energies, the French Oil giant and CNOOC backed by security agencies and land speculators are grabbing peoples land, displacing thousands, degrading key ecosystem resources and abusing their rights through kidnaps and illegal arrests but they want affected communities to sit and watch!” added Muramuzi.

He said Oil and gas, wherever it has been exploited, has left host communities in tears giving examples of host communities now in the Albertine Oil rift, communities along the East African Crude Oil people (EACOP), communities in the Lake Turkana Oil belt of Kenya, communities in the Niger state of Nigeria, communities in the Amazon –Ecuador, communities in South Sudan, Sudan, Libya and Ghana among others.

He said extractive industry is irrelevant in the current age of worsening climate change and that it should be fought at all cost not only by civil society but every citizen in the country.

The abduction of Kwikiriza is in addition to other patterns of arbitrary arrests against environmental and human rights activists speaking out against human rights abuses and threats to the environment due to oil projects in Uganda.

On May 27this year, eight ‘STOP EACOP’ activists were arrested outside Chinese Embassy in Kampala for holding a peaceful demonstration calling on China to stop plans to support East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

GERMAN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN UGANDA’S OIL REGION

The German Member of Parliament, Ms. Cornelia Mohring has expressed concern over human rights violations faced by Uganda’s oil host communities amidst the ongoing oil and gas activities in the Albertine region.

During her visit to the region to have a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the oil host communities on 20th and 22nd May, Cornelia said she is aware that the capitalistic foreign actors involved in the oil and gas extractives are the ones violating the rights of local communities and pledged her total support. She also commended the communities’ efforts to build collective power and fight against the injustices.

“The issues faced by local communities in Uganda due to oil are the topics of discussion back in German parliament. I am aware that European corporate companies including those from Germany are the ones involved in human rights violations. This is a reason why I have come to Uganda to interface with affected communities and have a deeper understanding of the issues. I am also happy that you are not relenting; you are instead coming up together to find solutions especially women,” said Cornelia while meeting the communities.

Cornelia was on a visit to Uganda on invitation of the Katrin Voss, the Director for ROSA Luxemburg Foundation for East Africa. They were on a mission to visit ROSA supported projects and communities through National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE).

Katrin and Cornelia that were led by Samuel Kasirye, the Rosa Program Officer visited NAPE’s Community Green Radio offices in Kiboga where they met staff and radio listeners club members and communities affected by oil and gas activities in Hoima and Buliisa. Apart from sharing stories of resistance against the human rights violations, the communities treated the visitors to food exhibitions to showcase their efforts in promoting growing of indigenous food to promote food sovereignty.

During the meeting at NAPE’s Community Green Radio, the communities shared how Radio has offered a platform for discussing the plight of people affected by oil development, putting women at the Centre of fighting against gender based inequalities and promoting food security.

 “The radio has played a big role in sensitizing the communities about their land rights and advocating for fair compensation for communities affected by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). The group members have been able to participate in NAPE-initiated exchange visits with other affected members in Hoima and Kikuube and have been able to learn a lot from them especially learning more on how to deal with poor compensation, more knowledge on land related issue, improving livelihoods and championing the demand for their rights and entitlements,” said Asuman Ssembatya, a member of Nabidondolo listeners club in Kyankwanzi district.

Anamary Kityo, member of Kikajjo listeners club in Kyankwanzi district said they have had an opportunity to have their voices amplified by the radio and have been sensitized on their rights to land, fighting against gender based violence and promoting food security at house hold level.

In Hoima and Buliisa districts, the communities shared how they have been empowered under the NAPE sustainability school approach to mobilize communities and hold their leaders accountable and stand together in solidarity to challenge the oil and gas induced human rights violations.

Alice Kazimura, the Director for Kakindo Women’s Integrated Development Association (KAWIDA) in Buliisa district said the district has become a hub of industrialization as a result of oil boom which has in turn led to land conflicts; increased gender based violence and increased food insecurity. She said the communities with support from NAPE have played a big role in sensitizing communities about the challenges and finding solutions.

Mrs. Kazimura said they have been at the forefront of fighting for fair compensation, land rights and women empowerment thanking NAPE for spearheading the struggle.

At first people were poorly compensated but with continuous advocacy, the compensation improved with better housing units. Women have been empowered to speak and are fighting for their land rights and ending gender based violence,” she said. 

Ms. Kiiza Gorreti from Kigwera Sub County in Buliisa District, a single mother of three said, “Since the discovery of oil and gas women have faced challenges of gender based violence where men have taken the compensation money and used it to marry other women, land rights violations and family break ups. The oil Central Processing Facility (CPF) covered 5 villages which women were using to collect firewood, building materials for their grass thatched houses and grazing. However, women have been empowered to speak up through the sustainability school and we are proud that Green Radio offers us free and safe space where we air our views.”

Katrin said she is happy that the communities especially women are aware of the challenges and also taking swift efforts to solve the problems. She applauded them for taking a stance in promoting food sovereignty, fighting against gender based violence and promoting women’s rights.  She noted that she will continue to support such efforts to the best of her ability.

The oil discovery and subsequent oil developments in Uganda was initially welcomed with anxiety, anticipation and optimism by not only the government but also the oil- host communities, with flares of tapping wealth. Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has been outspoken in his support for oil production, which he says will transform the country to a middle income status and has continuously urged the local communities to tap into oil opportunities.

But the tales of oil host communities reflect the fading hopes as the oil activities continue to be marred by human rights violations. Issues of displacements of people from their land to pave way for oil related infrastructure with little or no compensation, destruction of sensitive ecosystems, increased land grabbing, increased human-wildlife conflict, food insecurity and gender-based violence dominate the encounter with oil host communities in the oil region.

Challenging the violations require transfer of power from the dominant and minority groups- the state and its development agencies to the poor and marginalized groups. Because of this, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) with support from Rosa Luxemburg Foundation has been mobilizing communities affected by oil and bringing them together to share and discuss their challenges with the view of getting the solution under the sustainability school and the Community Green approaches since 2012.

Rajab Bwengye, the Sustainability School Manager and Community Green Radio at NAPE, says the organization is working with the affected communities to resist the human rights violations and as a result, many communities are standing up to protect their ecosystems and their livelihoods. He says this, however, needs continuous financial support. He noted that NAPE’s new strategy in the coming years is building a knowledge base where these stories of resistance from the communities are amplified among regional and international stakeholders so that these that are responsible for the abuses are held accountable.

NAPE DEMANDS FOR UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF ANTI-EACOP ACTIVISTS ARRESTED FOR HOLDING PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION

NAPE STANDS IN SOLIDARITY WITH GRASSROOT WOMEN’S MOVEMENT IN DEMANDING FOR PROTECTION OF RIGHTS AS A PATHWAY TO ECONOMIC JUSTICE

As the World commemorates the International Women’s Day, the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) is standing in solidarity with grassroots women’s movement to call on the government to protect the rights of women and girls and accelerate progress towards advancing economic rights.

In commemoration of the day on March 8th, women organized under NAPE’s grassroots women movement in Kyankwanzi and Kiboga districts in central Uganda appeared on NAPE’s Community Green Radio to demand for collective actions and solidarity against climate injustices, food insecurity, land rights violations, gender based violence and male domination in leadership and decision making positions which are limiting their economic rights.

The women say government and corporate companies investing in large land based investments like oil and gas industry and large scale agriculture which are fueling women’s rights violations, affecting livelihoods and household incomes and also increasing climate injustice.

The women are appealing to government to protect their rights and involve them in decision making for sustainable development.

Julius Kyamanywa, the Station Manager of the NAPE’s Community Green Radio says the radio is committed to amplifying the voices of women and supporting them in holding the leaders accountable.

This year’s IWD is centered on the theme:  Investing in Women: Accelerating progress. The Ugandan theme is accelerating gender equality through women’s economic empowerment.

Frank Muramuzi, the Executive Director for NAPE says women’s economic rights cannot be realized when their rights to land is still suppressed by convergence of patriarchal social norms and commercial pressure on land and natural resources exacerbated by extractive industries and large scale agriculture. He says this has an impact on women including violence and forced evictions, loss of women’s livelihood and income and increased unpaid care work.

Muramuzi says government should invest in protecting the rights of women and girls to be able to achieve their rights.

Rajab Bwengye, the coordinator of projects at NAPE says the NAPE is supporting women to collectively claim their rights and resist land rights violations, climate injustices and build sustainable livelihoods.

The Grassroot Women’s movement started in 2018 mainly concentrating in oil producing districts in the Albertine region and has now extended to Central region in the districts of Kiboga ad Kyankwanzi.

Precious Naturinda, who is spearheading the field mobilization drive in Kiboga and Kyankwanzi, says the grassroots women’s movement which fights for the rights of women in addition to energy, climate and environment rights is targeting over 15,000 women by the end of 2027.

NAPE STRENGTHENS GRASSROOT WOMEN’S MOVEMENT AS IT EXPANDS TO CENTRAL REGION

The National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) has intensified the mobilization of grassroots women to build collective power and solidarity in the face of socio-economic and environmental injustices by extending Rural Women’s Movement to Central Region.

NAPE has been at the forefront of mobilizing and organizing grassroots women and supporting them to challenge Gender Based Violence, women’s rights violations and energy and climate injustices in Albertine Graben since the start of 2018 mainly concentrating in the Oil producing districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Buliisa and Nwoya. NAPE has deepened grass root women advocacy mainly against oil injustices of illegal land grabs, Sexual and Gender based violence, human rights abuses, food and ecosystem destruction at the hands of oil corporates.

Boosting of around 35,000 grass root women, and foreseeing further challenges presented mainly by the 1,443 km long East African Crude Oil and gas pipeline (EACOP), mobilization has now extended to the central region with the target of mobilizing over 5000 grassroots women by the end of 2026 and 15,000 by end of 2027 mobilized in at least 8 districts that will be crossed by the EACOP.

“The journey starts now with a target to at least identifying 50 grass root women activists, informal groups and community/local leaders with at least a membership of 600 grass root women, girls and male comrades by close of 2024 and building their knowledge and understanding on feminist analysis, values, approaches and the integration of contextual feminist knowledge in these informal groups of marginalized women. The marginalized women include widows, young women and girls, single mothers, women with disabilities, women living with HIV/AIDS and women living in displaced peoples’ camps, small house hold farmers, ecosystem dependent groups who are at a high risk of displacement and abuse from ongoing oil and gas extraction, oil pipeline, and other project developments”, saysPrecious Naturinda spearheading the field mobilization drive in Kiboga and Kyankwanzi districts.

Rural women’s Movement is an initiative of grassroots women that fights for women’s rights, energy and climate and environmental justice while creating alternative models of development in Uganda. The women’s movement has a goal of building an ecofeminist perspective of development alternatives.

The women’s organizing has come at the backdrop of profit-oriented investors that are purchasing or leasing land for large land based investments like oil and gas mining and sugarcane growing.  The struggle for land is deeply intertwined with women’s rights. Women make 76% of Uganda’s agricultural labor force and are more dependent on land for their livelihood. Furthermore, as a result of their gender roles, they are overwhelmingly responsible for food security of their families. Despite this dependence and responsibility, it is estimated that they own 7% to 20% of the land, and are the worst hit by land grabs and all other forms of gender injustices calling for an urgent need to reverse this narrative.

Bwengye Rajab, the head of NAPE programs says “‘the Movement strengthening project-2024’ initiated in Kikuube and Kyankwanzi; two of the many EACOP affected districts, will mainly focus on introducing discussions on feminism and collective organizing and engagement, knowledge and experiences already attained by movement members in the nucleus oil rich districts of Hoima, Kikuube and Buliisa under NAPE past mentorship and support”.

In 2006, Uganda discovered an estimated 6.5 million barrels of crude oil in Albertine Graben. Since then, the government and oil companies’ negotiations seeking to access to land from communities for oil development projects have been characterized by displacements, low compensation, violence, land degradation and loss of livelihoods.

According to the Feminist Participatory Research (FPAR) that was done by NAPE in 2017, the violent evictions, loss of livelihoods, food insecurity, environmental degradation, violence and discrimination at household level caused by land rush for extractives and monoculture have largely affected women.

But with the movement, NAPE has supported women to collectively claim their rights, resist unjust land grabs and rebuild their livelihoods. They are coming together to resist the land rush.

Lucy Mbuubi, one of the rural women activists of the movement from Kikuube district says movements empower women to know their land and compensation rights. Kikuube is one of the areas where women have suffered injustices related to loss of land-ownership rights and inadequate compensation for their land that was taken over by government and oil companies for the construction of oil roads, the oil refinery and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

“The women affected by EACOP and the construction Kabale-Kiziranfumbi have resisted poor compensation and challenged the government to ensure that women also sign for compensation together with men; thanks to the women’s movement that has built and strengthened women’s capacity to resist oppressive laws that do not protect women’s rights,” says Mbuubi crediting NAPE and Woman Kind for initiating the movement philosophy in the oil region.

According to Mr. Bwengye of NAPE, women in central region including Kiboga and Kyankwanzi districts that are equally affected by oil projects and other large land based investments need to be mobilized and empowered to fight against the injustices given the magnitude of impacts expected from the EACOP.

Bwengye says the 1,443 km long heated crude oil pipeline will be the longest the world has ever seen traversing 10 districts in Uganda, 25 in Tanzania, displacing around 100,000 communities, destroying key ecosystems and generally causing a food, environmental and climatic disaster in the region.

Frank Muramuzi, the NAPE Executive Director says this is the main reason why NAPE and other Civil Society collaborators have resorted to taking Total Energies-The French Oil giant exploiting Oil and gas reserves in Uganda to French Courts for Violating the French Duty of Vigilance Law” That expects French corporates to put Rights of Oil host communities and the Environment High on their development Agendas and which they have totally failed to respect in Uganda.

NAPE and Partners Call Upon Ugandan Government,World leaders to pay due attention to impacts of Climate Change

NAPE and partners, Fridays for Future (Uganda), Simma Africa and Girls for Climate Action currently attending COP28 in Dubai have called upon the Ugandan Government and world leaders to pay urgent and due attention to the impacts of Climate Change. 

NAPE and Partners Call Upon Ugandan Government,World leaders to pay due attention to impacts of Climate Change

NAPE, Partners ask court not to rush Government case against households affected by Tilenga Oil Project

NAPE and its partners; Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), Tasha Research Institute Africa and Community Voice and Planning organization (COVAPO) have appealed to court not to rush the hearing of the case in which the Government is suing 42 Households over TotalEnergies Tilenga Project.

NAPE, Partners ask court not to rush Government case against households affected by Tilenga Oil Project

Uganda National Meteorological Authority partners with Kiboga district to give weather updates to farmers

Precious Naturinda and Edison Ndyasiima

Peter Makubuye, a small holder farmer from Kakoora village in Kibiga sub county Kiboga district has had rough time dealing with unpredictable weather conditions. According to Makubuye, his main source of livelihood is growing maize, beans, coffee and banana plantations.

However, he says the erratic rainfall and extended dry spell has over time left him in losses. He says weather conditions have increasingly become unpredictable as opposed to olden days when they would use indigenous knowledge to predict.

“Whenever I would experience much heat, I would tell that the rains are around the corner and start preparing the gardens but this is no longer the case. These days we are taken by surprise. The rains come and disappear at a time you least expect. I put in a lot of money and get low yields,” said Makubuye.

It is against this background that Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) has partnered with Kiboga district local government to ensure that farmers get updated weather forecasts to help farmers plan accordingly.

The Authority started with training at the beginning of this month (September) of district technical officers from climate sensitive sectors – agriculture and water departments- and farmer group leaders on climate resilient measures.

Abubaker Kalema, a Senior Meteorologist at UNMA says the authority will be sharing early warning weather information with the farmers using mainstream media and WhatsApp groups.

He says Kiboga district, whose population predominantly relies on rain-fed agriculture, has been affected by unpredictable weather. He, however, notes that farmers have been lacking timely and accurate weather information. He says weather information sharing is key to build climate resilience at local level.

Makubuye, who was one of the beneficiaries of the training, says there has been a big gap in sharing information directly to farmers who are affected by the weather patterns from the UNMA. He says the partnership will make weather information dissemination to farmers easy.

According to information from Kiboga district agriculture department, the district experiences challenging unpredictable weather conditions of erratic rainfall and extended dry spell during the March-June planting season.

This has resulted into poor crop yields for annual crops such as maize and beans, horticultural crops like tomatoes, cabbages and also inadequate pasture and water production. The district authorities fear that this may lead to low future supply of agricultural commodities, moderate food availability supply and high prices.

Extreme weather conditions are increasingly frequent and severe across African region including Uganda.

According to Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN 2021), Uganda is ranked 10th most vulnerable country to the impacts of climate change and the 35th least readying in teams of preparedness for the climate change effects.

Court of Appeal starts hearing of the case against Hoima Sugar Limited

The Court of Appeal in Kampala has started hearing of the case that National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) and Water and Environment Media Network (WEMNET) filed for cancellation of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) certificate of approval issued to Hoima Sugar Ltd (HSL).

AFIEGO, NAPE and WEMENT are some of the members of the Save Bugoma Forest Campaign (SBFC). The appeal, which was filed in May 2021, is against Hoima Sugar Limited and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). Despite protests from Bugoma forest host communities, Kikuube district local government, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and civil society members, NEMA issued Hoima Sugar Limited with with an ESIA certificate of approval for the company’s Kyangwali Mixed Land Use Project in August 2020. The certificate allowed HSL to grow sugarcane, set up an urban centre and engage in other degrading activities in Bugoma central forest reserve.

Open the link to read the full statement of the Save Bugoma Forest Campaign. https://www.greenradio.ug/download/press-statement-on-hearing-of-bugoma-forest-case-appeal/

CSOs PETITION NCBA BANK OVER HOIMA SUGAR LIMITED ABUSES

Two environmental and human rights organisations in Uganda have petitioned NCBA Bank to stop financing Hoima Sugar Limited which they claim carries out its activities in a manner that contravenes environmental laws and disregards the rights of the host communities.

The two organisations, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE)-Friends of the Earth Uganda-and Strategic Response on Environmental Conservation (STREC) presented a petition to NCBA Bank Uganda Limited on 3rd July 2023 signed by 1,678 people directly impacted by Hoima Sugar Limited in the Bugoma Forest area.

In the petition addressed to Mr. Mark Mayobo, the Managing Director of NCBA Bank Uganda Limited, the CSOs and host communities accuse Hoima Sugar Limited’s Kyangwali Mixed Land Use Project of severely threatening the wellbeing and livelihoods of local people in the area.

“The project, which includes a sugarcane plantation along with other infrastructure developments has severely threated the well-being and livelihoods of local communities. The project has also resulted in the deforestation of natural, reserved forest and has violated several Ugandan laws,” the petition to NCBA Bank reads in part.

The petition follows a post by NCBA Bank on Twitter to the effect that it was providing asset financing to Hoima sugar limited enabling it to acquire transport vehicles and graders some of which have been used in degrading Bugoma Forest.

“The Bank’s support of Hoima Sugar links NCBA Bank to the various environmental, social and governance related issues associated with Hoima Sugar’s activities in Bugoma. This asset financing contradicts NCBA Group’s own commitment to “sustainable investment and community growth” the letter signed by Mr. Frank Muramuzi on behalf of NAPE and Cirrus Kabaale on behalf of STREC reads.

The petition was duly received by NCBA and the office of the Chief Executive Officer made a response.

“As part of our commitment to sustainable investment and community growth, we take the issues of environment, sustainability and governance seriously.

We are in conversation with our client, Hoima Sugar Limited and will respond conclusively to your concerns raised,” the response letter signed by NCBA Chief Executive Officer, Mark Muyobo, reads in part. Click on download below for the full petition.

NCBA BANK PETITION ON BUGOMA