Fishing communities along Lake Albert in Hoima district in Western Uganda are demanding for more police posts to curb lawlessness in the area.
In their petition dated 23rd October 2023, and addressed to Hoima Police Commander and the Resident District Commissioner (representative of the president in the district), the residents throughKaiso Women’s Group; a registered community based organization located in Kaiso fishing village, Kabale sub county Hoima raised concern that lack of police posts along the lake has increased underreported gender based violence cases.
According to the petitioners, Hoima district has only one police post along Lake Albert located in Kaiso fishing village that handles cases from other fishing villages of Kyehorro, Tonya, Mbegu Manok, Mbegu Madit, Nana, Fofo, Hoimo and Kijangi.
They noted that the next police post is located in Ssebigoro landing site in Kikuube district while another is in Kabaale Sub County which they say are all very far.
Ms.Sylvia Kemigisa, the group chairperson noted that the group established a community safe space with the help of National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) in 2021. The safe space is handling cases of gender based violence through mediation, counseling and referral to police by trained community based care takers.
However, the safe spaces are receiving overwhelming numbers from the villages mentioned.
“Some of the victims say the long distance to the police post, congestion at the only available police post which is causing lack of privacy and delayed solving of cases affect them from reporting the cases to the police post,” she said.
The petitioners request for more police posts or work with communities to open up more safe spaces.
Local leaders in Albertine region have been urged to be allies in ending gender based violence against women and girls.
According to 2022 Police Annual Crime report, Albertine region registered the highest number of domestic Violence cases in 2022 with 1,841 cases registered out of 17,698 cases country wide. The report further shows that more women and girls as victims of domestic violence compared to men.
Fred Lukumu, the LCV chairperson for Buliisa district attributes the high cases of domestic violence to land conflicts, oil and gas developments and impacts of COVID-19pandemic that have led to displacements, poverty and food insecurity.
Mr. Lukumu notes that to tackle this challenge, both women and boys should be involved in finding solutions to eradicate violence.
“Not only women but also men should see violence as unacceptable in society and be willing to stand up against it,” said Lukumu.
He appreciated men who are already engaged in conflict resolution and mediation in Buliisa under different platforms. He applauded National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) for empowering both men and women in ending gender based violence and solving conflicts through community safe spaces.
From 2021, NAPE established community safe spaces to handle cases of gender based violence under a European Funded project “Deepening grassroots women’s rights, participation and economic livelihood opportunities in the era of expanding of oil and gas extraction and COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda” in Hoima, Kikuube and Buliisa districts
According to Rajab Bwengye, the projects coordinator, both men and women have been trained to identify and address gender based violence through mediation, counseling, and referral and follow up to police in 20 community safe spaces established in three districts.
Eddie Watuma, one of the community based caretakers in Buliisa toen council community safe space, says men have a responsibility to take the lead and influence their peers in fighting against the stereotypes in community that cause gender inequality.
He noted also noted that men who are victims of gender based violence find it easy to report cases to their fellow men who are taking part in counseling and conflict resolution.
“During conflict solving sessions, we have learnt that men need sensitization and involvement if we need to end violence. Some men think that beating women is normal because that’s how society brought them up. But when we sit them down and counsel them, they turn out to be change agents,” said Watuma.
According to Bwengye, cases recorded by caretakers at all the 20 established safe spaces in all the 3 operational districts are 1,186 out of which 953 were resolved at safe space sites. He notes that others have been referred to police for further management contributing to a success rate of 80%.
Community Green Radio has been recognized for its contribution towards Rotary Cancer Run 2023 in Kiboga and the surrounding districts that saw Rotary Club of Kiboga raise 7.8 million shillings. The money will be used to facilitated the construction of a cancer clinic at Nsambya Hospital.
The radio Radio supported the club by arising awareness about the event which was held on 27th August through radio talk shows and adverts.
Rotary club of Kiboga awarded the radio with a certificate of appreciation. The certificate was handed over to the radio staff by Kiboga Rotary President, Ms. Doreen Mukisa at a function that was held at Kiboga Town Council Playground.
The Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development Judith Nabakooba has said the government is profiling powerful individuals involved in land grabbing across the country.
Speaking to residents and local leaders in Kiboga District on December 14, Nabakooba expressed concern that some wealthy people and powerful government officials are directly involved in land grabbing while others are doing it through their well-connected agents.
“Some top government officials have gone ahead to grab land that accommodates government institutions with the sole aim of hoodwinking the government to use the Land Fund to pay them. We have concrete information about this clandestine move and we will not allow it to happen,” the minister told a gathering at the district headquarters.
Nabakooba said those fuelling land conflicts and evicting poor sitting tenants are enemies of the ruling NRM government.
“I recall very well that since the NRM government took over power in 1986, people have been saying we can sleep however much we are poor and now the enemies are struggling to take that away by evicting the wanainchi (citizens) from their ancestral land”, Nabakoba observed as she voiced assurance that government is now determined to defend the peasants.
She asked the residents to stop being intimidated by land grabbers and fight on in defending their land by using the relevant offices.
Kiboga West Member of Parliament, Abdul Mutumba said land in Kiboga, especially public land, has been targeted by land grabbers who take advantage of the vulnerable occupants staying there on lease basis.
He called on government to protect people and the land for peace to prevail.
On 16th September 2022, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) held its Annual General Meeting at Community Green Radio Kiboga offices to reflect on performance for the previous years and plan for the coming years.
The meeting was attended by members of general assembly, Board members, and communities working at grassroots, NAPE secretariat and Community Green Radio staff.
Before the meeting, the team held a field visit to a group of women supported by NAPE in millet value addition. Kamu Kamu women’s group in Kasomoro village in Kyabigambire Sub County Hoima district that is currently packing millet was supported with trainings in millet value addition and given a millet milling machine.
Ephraim Lemmy Nuwagaba, the NAPE Board chairperson hailed NAPE for its sustained efforts in lobby and advocacy and impacting change at the grassroots level.
He said NAPE’s presence on ground is felt and the strategic decision to work with community groups bearing results as many empowered groups have been formed and income generating and environmentally friendly projects.
Frank Muramuzi, the NAPE Executive Director said the organization works hand in hand with government to ensure that the environment is conserved and human rights observed. Some of the NAPE community members appreciated NAPE for amplifying their voices in realizing their rights.
Every year, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) under Sustainability school program holds evaluation meeting with its sub grantees and Community Green Radio listeners clubs.
This year, the evaluation was held in Butimba village in Kikuube district in a learning exchange that was attended by sustainability school members from Hoima, Kikuube, Buliisa, Kiboga, Kalangala and Kyankwanzi districts in November.
The exchange was aimed at evaluating the activities undertaken by the sustainability schools, and sharing experiences and learning by members. It was mainly focusing on drama and food exhibition where the members showcased food they are growing to promote food sovereignty and conveyed their challenges through advocacy drama.
Rev. Fred Musimenta, the chairperson of Butimba Sustainability Conservation Association said the host communities are faced with violation of their rights related to no or poor compensation of their lost property to developments, high cost of living, environmental degradation and land grabbing which the communities need to fight against.
He said NAPE has played a big role in organizing communities into sustainability villages and strengthening them to stand up for their rights through capacity building and empowerment.
He said a lot needs to be done now that the challenges related to oil infrastructure development are surging and called on NAPE for continued support.
Kemigisha Sylvia, the chairperson of Kaiso Women’s Groupsaid the group uses advocacy drama to convey the challenges the women go through and how to overcome them.
She explains that through advocacy drama, they have been able to have their voices amplified by acting at public functions such as Independency day, women’s’ day and it has attracted government attention.
Kemigisha noted that the group has embarked on vegetable gardening after COVI-19, floods, poor fishing methods in addition to the effects of oil exploration affected fish catch leaving women with no other source of livelihood.
Joram Basiima, a member of Kigaaga Oil Refinery Women Development Association says the the group was formed in 2016 with support from NAPE. He said being near the oil refinery, they are the most affected by the developments.
He explained that the oil companies and government are frustrating the host communities with unfair compensation, loss of livelihoods and difficulty in accessing land titles.
He said the group is using drama as a tool of expression since it has an emotional attachment in changing people’s life style.
They said whenever opportunity comes in to meet government officials and other stake holders at both district and national level, they do express their grievance, challenges, achievements and their requests through music dance and drama.
Kasirye Sam, from ROSA Luxemburg said he was happy that the groups that were formed 10 years back were vibrant and working towards promoting human rights and environmental conservation and that the groups were breading community leaders and activist.
He said though donors have been greatly affected by COVID-19 leading to reduced funds, ROSA commits to continued support for the groups and their activities. Allan Kalangi, the sustainability school manager the day’s evaluation was done through advocacy drama and exhibition as a way of sharing experience.
Peruth Atukwatse, the program officer in charge of chemical management under National Association of Professional Environments (NAPE) has expressed deep concerned over poor emphasis on enforcing appropriate policies, laws and regulations in Uganda to help on guiding sound management of chemicals and chemicals wastes.
Speaking at a training workshop at Front page hotel in Kampala May 29, Atukwatse said laxity has presented key challenges to both government, the private sector, CSOs and the communities in general.
Atukwatse noted that dangers of chemical such as individuals developing health effects like headaches, skin rashes, eye irritations and cancer, endocrine disruption and birth defects are being experienced in Uganda amidst several policies in place.
She said chemicals can’t be avoided but there are best ways of using them when the population is not affected if well sensitized.
The meeting was aimed at launching a campaign of awareness rising on sound management of chemical and wastes by National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) in conjunction with National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).
National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) has launched a 2 year project aimed at promoting peaceful co-existence and preventing conflicts among the refugees and internally displaced people in Kyangwali Refugee camp, Kigyayo and Rwamutonga IDP camps in Kikuube district.
The project was launched in Kyangwali Refugee Resettlement Camp on June 2, where NAPE also opened a peace hub and also launched guidelines for Local Peace Committees that will help resolve conflicts and promote co-existence in the resettlement camp.
Joan Akiiza, the Project Officer and Legal Officer said the Local Peace Committees will facilitate dialogue, manage conflicts, and promote peaceful co-existences and strengthen social cohesion and resilience of local communities.
She explained that the peace hubs will be used to ensure that the conflicts among the refugees and internally displaced people are solved with the cooperation of local communities, leaders and other stake holders while sheltering victims of Gender based Violence.
“The peace hub is going to be a one stop centre for gender based a violence and natural resources conflict that includes land, clean water and firewood,” Akiiza said
Akiiza added that, “two more Peace hubs will be opened in Rwamutonga and Kijayo respectively and the Local Peace Committees that comprise of community members from these respective camps will help in resolving conflicts through dialogue and mediation,” she said during the launch.
Speaking at the launch, Frank Mulamuzi, the NAPE Executive Director said the project was established after realizing that people in the camps have failed to peacefully coexist and effectively use the natural resources due to differences in nationalities, tribes and norms and culture.
He said the project will help to resolve the conflicts through mediation with the use of local peace committees and local government leaders.
“In areas where there are Natural resources, government and other investors tend to mismanage the indigenous communities hence violation of human rights, displacements with less or no compensations, intimidations by security agencies and other forms of violations and as NAPE we are so much concerned,” said Mr. Muramuzi
He also expressed concern that girls and women are the most vulnerable and the project intends to increase the participation and decision-making of women in conflict prevention processes and responses.
“As NAPE we realised that women, girls and children are the most vulnerable so we have opened a peace hub here to handle all those issues for the betterment of everyone,” he explained.
Kebirungi Jolly, the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement Commandant under the Office of the Prime Minister said there have been conflicts over natural resources between host communities and refugees adding that the project is timely.
Kebirungi noted that Kyangwali settlement has several challenges connected to services offered to the refugees and the host communities and that the NAPE project on conflict prevention is relevant to the issues in the camp.
She added that it’s good that the project is 2 years a period in which the communities will be able to learn and acquire skills for sustainability of the project. She pledged support from the OPM office in ensuring the project objectives are met.
Peter Banura, the LCV chairperson for Kikube said the district is overwhelmed by conflicts over natural resources especially land and gender based violence. He said that it’s good the project is focusing on women who are vulnerable and marginalised in our societies because they also face challenges that range from rape to defilement among others.
He also stated “that Financial literacy should be emphasised to minimise conflicts that arise from mukopero’’ this is Money given to the refugees for upkeep and food from partners and agencies which has increased domestic violence in the camp.
The objective of the project is to increase meaningful participation and decision making of women in conflict prevention processes and responses.
Parents in Kayonza Sub County in Kassanda district have expressed concern over the increasing school drop out of children to tap into gold money in Kitumbi-Kayonza gold mining area.
The parents say drop out has been fuelled by the long holiday due to COVID-19 lockdown which has lured many children into trying gold mining as a lucrative venture of earning a living.
Samuel Mogen, a gold miner and a resident at Kayonza village says despite schools opening, children who are in mining are unbothered about reporting back which deprives them of their bright future.
Mogen explained that several meetings have been held to ensure children are chased away from gold mining area but just because leaders are reluctant, children continue to work in the mines.
However, Musa Nduga, the Kayonza Kitumbi Gold Miners Associations’ site supervisor says efforts to chase children from the mines have failed since these children make quick money.
He says they have introduced a new system of carrying out abrupt operations to chase children out of the mines, which too, has encountered resistance.
Clare Kamagara, the Kasanda District Environment Officer noted that district is not well facilitated to conduct operations and sensitizations in the mines to get children out of the mines.
She says though it’s illegal to use the children in the mines, it goes out of hand due to poor facilitation of the district leaders.
Peruth Atukwatse, the Project Officer for Sound Chemical Management Officer at National Association of Professional Environments (NAPE) explains that much as the local leaders have failed to act accordingly, more efforts will be doubled by NAPE through sensitizing communities and engaging leaders.
Listeners of Community Green radio through their listeners clubs have been argued to embrace environmental conservation and the need to preserve indigenous food species. The call was made by the chairperson of Butimba Sustainability Conservation Association, BUSUCA Reverend Fred Musiimenta during a learning tour by members of radio listeners’ clubs from Kiboga and Kyankwanzi organized by National Association of Professional Environmentalists in September this year.
“Many people consider planting Eucalyptus trees as conserving the environment yet they are equally dangerous since they cannot encourage agro forestry. Therefore it should start with us, let’s promote planting of indigenous trees and seeds for continuity and sustainable food supply,” he said.
The members from Kiboga and Kyankwanzi had gone to visit projects undertaken by BUSUCA with a view of replicating them in their communities. BUSUCA has projects in apiary, tree nursery beds and the indigenous seed bank.
Asuman Ssembatya of Nabidondolo listeners’ club in Kyankwanzi believes the lessons picked for Butimba are easy to replicate.
“We shall now focus on implementation. Our tour of this place has been of immense value and we are now going to act. The radio is now starting to be of great value than before”, narrated Mr. Ssembatya.
Ms. Janat Kengonzi of Lwamata Listeners’ club in Kiboga says the tour has inspired her to empower more women to engage in conservation and farming.
“I have seen women do it in Butimba, why not us?, I am going to work with my fellow women to ensure that we do what these people are doing”, she explained .
Community Green Radio works with listeners through the radio listeners clubs to work on different projects of their choice and interest through to cause positive change. The radio offers a platform for rural communities to share experiences and knowledge on how to run sustainable projects that promote environmental conservations.