GRASSROOT WOMEN MOBILISE COLLECTIVE POWER TO DEMAND FOR LAND AND CLIMATE JUSTICE AS NAPE HOLDS A FEMINIST SCHOOL IN NORTHERN UGANDA

Rural women have called for climate justice and protection of land- which is central to their livelihood. This was during a feminist school for rural women in the Northern Uganda that was organized by National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) between 14th and 18th November, last year.

According  to rural women, land rights for rural communities, specifically women, are being undermined by the recent wave of land rush by investors who are purchasing or leasing land for mining, monoculture or mega infrastructure development aimed at profit maximization.

MelaChaponda, an inspiring feminist from Zimbabwe joined a feminist school virtually said the development model based on capitalism has robbed rural communities of their livelihoods, their sustainable food systems and their climate justice.

She said there is need for women to challenge the oppressive religions, cultures and capitalistic systems that have degraded women and robbed them of their rights to natural resources and their livelihood.

“Women should ask themselves why they end up being treated as second class citizens yet both men and women used to depend on land and other natural resources happily with little gender variation; ask themselves how people ended up using culture, religion and globalization to manipulate and leave the women behind; and also ask themselves why women do much of work to sustain life like breastfeeding, producing food and cooking but the work is not appreciated. All these are happening because capitalism continues to dominate in the way people think and behave. The love for profit maximization which is fronted by men has led to exploitation of natural resources that women have lived on for ages hence degrading women,” MelaChaponda said.

She said women should say no to food systems that undermine sustainable traditional food sovereignty systems.

“Start rethinking of community based solutions to climate crisis and let communities know that climate crisis is real. Stop using pesticides, Genetically Modified Organisms are not solutions to climate change. Let us promote traditional seeds and ensure that the communities stick to that. Let’s take alternatives like agro ecology that does not destroy the ecosystem.  Let us not allow our food production systems be driven by capitalists needs but our own needs,” she said.

The women said it’s high time they challenged the systems that undermine their rights and mobilized to change the status quo and demanded for land and climate justice by building a collective power.

There is power in numbers to challenge what is happening. Let’s look at solutions not challenges,” Lilian Tamale, the Chief Executive Officer, CivSource Africa, a partner to NAPE.

They are demanding that strategies to address the systematic crises caused by extractive development models recognize the disproportionate burden on rural women and also need people-driven solutions and eco-feminist development alternatives.

“The government is doing nothing! A lot of nothing! When they were constructing Karuma dam, the government promised to build a good hospital as part of corporate social responsibility to communities but they just put a building with nothing in it and even people are suffering with electricity black outs. That’s why we need to mobilize a critical mass to fight these injustices,” said Connie Atoo from Lango

During the school, the women vowed to stand up and speak loudly about the injustices caused by capitalistic development models fronted by investors in mining, monoculture and mega infrastructure.

They vowed to form a collective power to fight for food sovereignty, eco-feminist development alternatives that ensure sustainability of natural resources, access to land, recognition of women’s roles and rights in agriculture and farmer’s control to indigenous food.

“We need to come together as one, our voices need to be heard and this can only be achieved through building a women’s movement. Let’s rethink of how the society has degraded our women and we work together to look for solutions ourselves,” said Harriet Apiyo, an activist from Northern Uganda.

SostineNamanya, a gender and food security officer from NAPE said the feminist school was aimed at creating an enabling environment for feminist engagement, strengthening women leadership and enhancing eco-feminist movement in Uganda.

The feminist school was organized by NAPE with support from CivFund

NAPE TRAINS WOMEN IN IDPs AND REFUGEE CAMPS ENTREPRENUERSHIP SKILLS TO ENHANCE SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS AND FIGHT AGAINST GENDER BASED VIOLENCE

Angelic Mbisemenshe, a refugee living in Kyangwali refugee camp in Hoima district has often found herself frustrated with lack of suitable sustainable income generating activity for her livelihood.

For about 25 years she has lived in the camp, Mbisemenshe, a married woman with 4 children says she has largely depended on a monthly relief assistance from World Food Program (WFP) in form of food or cash to meet her basic food needs. However, she explains that the relief has always been not enough to cater for her family’s basic needs and this has always sparked conflicts on sharing the little relief received with her family.

She is among over 30 women from Kigyayo and RwamutongaInternally Displaced Camps and Kyangwali refugee camp in Kikuube district that have benefited from the ongoing entrepreneurship skills training organized by National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE).

Mbisemeshe is optimistic that learning skills will help her get an income generating activity rather than entirely depending on relief assistance and hand- outs from organizations and government.

“I am currently learning crocheting and I will start making bags and dresses for sell. As a refugee, I don’t have land for cultivation in the camp and my education background is limited. This means my opportunities to get income are limited. And this has led to over dependency on my husband and relief assistance sparking conflicts,” says Mbisemenshe.

Joan Akiiza, the head of the project to reduce conflicts in the camps says the women are being trained in beading and crocheting livelihood options as part of the broader NAPE’s program to reduce gender-based violence, increase household income and promoting self-reliance to protect women and children.

Akiiza says people who flee their homes to the camps often lose their livelihoods and this in addition to lack of resources in the camp like land for cultivation lead to conflicts.

She says the program is targeting women because they are the ones mostly affected by gender based violence and access to income generating activities will enable them to become self-sufficient and be able to meet basic needs without necessarily depending on any one.

The program that started with a two-days training in crocheting and beading in December will continue until the women are competent enough to become trainers of other women in the camps according to Akiiza.

She also says that they will be given materials as startups.

HOIMA COMMUNITIES CALL FOR MORE SUPPORT IN CONSERVATION OF KIHAGYA CULTURAL FOREST; A SACRED NATURAL SITE FOR ABAHAGYA CLAN

On a beautiful Wednesday afternoon characterized by scotching sun, fresh air, slightly cold breeze and singing birds, the members of Abahangya clan scattered under tree shades near Kihagya natural forest as they welcomed a team from National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and a visitor from African Biodiversity Network (ABN). One could tell that the communities were enjoying the natural beauty that they would want to conserve for their generations to come.

Located in Kakindo village in Kyabigambire Sub County Hoima district, Kihagya forest, is a sacred natural site for Abahagya clan members. It is about 100 meters away from the homesteads of Abahagya clan. The forest which is seated on about 3 acres of land is characterized by thick forest with overgrown trees; some of which have dried up, and thick shrubs.

However, the forest has been faced with increasing threats of destruction with people clearing land for cultivation, cutting down trees and fetching firewood which questions its future existence for future generations to benefit from its cultural and biodiversity importance.

Suluman Bahugana, who is the chief custodian of the natural site in his 90s says the forest is highly respected due to its cultural importance and they use cultural beliefs which were left by their forefathers to protect the forest. He attributes the massive encroachment to eroding away of traditional religion and culture by introduction of Christianity and lack of sensitization of the young generation.

During the meeting that was held on November 10, Bahugana called for more efforts from National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and partners to continue supporting the communities to save the remaining forest.

“The forest was a no-go zone for any other activities apart from cultural activities. “No one would go to this forest to collect firewood, dig, cut a tree or do any other activity because it was considered as a holy place.”

Perez Nyangabyaki says NAPE has helped in saving the forest that was once about five acres from further encroachment by fencing it. He says a lot needs to be done especially engaging the youth intergenerational learning for the youth to understand and appreciate its importance rooted on culture and using the forest for livelihood improvement by promoting beekeeping and adding value to the herbal medicine collected from the forest.

“People’s faith on indigenous taboos based on cultural and spiritual faith is being lost and the traditional conservation practice is weakening because the young generation is busy encroaching on the sacred natural sites because they are not sensitized,” said Nyangabyaki

He added, “I call upon NAPE to help us to facilitate intergeneration learning so that we the elder people can transfer the knowledge to the young generation and also show them that besides cutting down trees, they can still earn a living by adding value to the herbal medicine and other non-timber products like beekeeping.”

Addressing the communities, Ventor Mwongela, the ABN Communications and partnership officer said she was happy that the communities are determined protect the ecosystem due to its cultural and ecological importance. He said the elders are the custodians of indigenous knowledge and need to transfer it to young generations.

She said ABN will partner with NAPE to continue strengthening the community cultural governance systems so that the communities can protect their cultural heritage.

“I am happy that you are determined to conserve the biodiversity and you have both women, elderly and youth on board which promotes intergenerational learning. I have taken note of your needs ad ABN will continue partnering with NAPE to ensure that the ecosystem is conserved and knowledge is transferred to generations,” Mwongela said.

NAPE SUPPORTING SMALL HOLDER FARMERS TO PROMOTE TRADIONAL APPROACHES TO FOOD SECURITY

Though weather patterns have changed tremendously due to effects of climate change, planting seasons in Uganda are known to begin in March and August of every year respectively. Towards that time, farmers are busy preparing gardens and seeds for planting.

Women are mainly at the centre of seed selection for planting and preservation due to their primary responsibility of household food security. Traditionally, women were crucial to seed conservation efforts to keep their families endowed with food throughout the cycle.

Jesca Buteraba, a resident of Butimba village in Kikuube district says using her indigenous knowledge, she would know which seeds are suitable for the changing climatic conditions, nutritious and high-yielding; and which methods are best applied to protect the crops from weeds and how to control pests and diseases after harvesting.

Annet Kasolo says the elders would follow the weather patterns using the indigenous knowledge and would as well use traditional methods like mixing seeds with ash to protect them from pests and diseases and also use traditional granaries in conserving the seeds for the next planting season and to ensure food security. “The elders would tell the beginning of rainy season by the direction of wind and changes in plants,” she says.

Using the indigenous knowledge to solve food shortage has been the powerful means of sustaining household food security in rural areas; a role that was mainly played by women. With this knowledge that was shared from generations to generations, the indigenous varieties have played a very important role in securing households against food insecurity.

However, with the introduction of ‘high yielding’ varieties and use of chemicals, farmers have moved away from the practice of saving and exchanging seeds and resorted to buying from seed giants. Because of this, the diversity of indigenous seeds has been eroded and the farmers’ indigenous knowledge systems related to farming and seed saving has slowly been lost.

Through working in groups, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) is supporting small holder farmers to trace and share seeds that are facing extinct and planting for multiplication with the help of elders, mostly women, who are the custodians of seeds in communities.

During a visit to small holder farmers, NAPE and its partner from African Biodiversity Network, the farmers showcased indigenous varieties of cassava, millet, sweat potatoes, simsim, ground nuts and beans that they are trying to save from extinction.

Rev. Fred Musimenta of Butimba in Kikuube District says the groups are reviving the indigenous crop varieties using the indigenous knowledge and methods that have been neglected in ensuring food security and enhancing the resilience of communities in fighting climate change.

During the visit, Ventor Mwongela from African Biodiversity Network said she is happy that the groups use indigenous knowledge to improve food security. She said the power is in their hands to resist any development that brings destruction to food insecurity and pledged for support through NAPE.

AFRICAN BIODIVERSITY NETWORK (ABN) TO PARTNER WITH NAPE TO PROMOTE TRADITIONAL APPROACHES FOR BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AND FOOD SOVEREIGNITY

African Biodiversity Network (ABN) has pledged to partner with National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) to promote indigenous seed governance for improved livelihoods and food sovereignty and strengthen cultural governance systems to conserve the ecosystems.

This was after the ABN Communication, Partnership and Advocacy Coordinator, Venter Mwongela, visited Hoima and Kikuube districts to understand NAPE activities in communities in relation to seed sovereignty and biodiversity conservation on November 10.

The field visit was conducted in Kyabigambire Sub County in Hoima where the communities Kihagya cultural forest, a sacred natural site for Abahagya clan, using cultural governance systems, Butimba village in Kukuube district where the communities are promoting indigenous seeds for improved livelihoods and a community indigenous seed bank at Community Green Radio Kiboga.

During the visit in Kihagya, the chief custodian of Kihagya cultural forest, Suluman Bahugana said the forest is highly respected as a place of rich and diverse nature that has special significance to the communities and the environment.

He said it was believed that a calamity would hit one upon entering the forest illegally to collect firewood, fetch water and cut down trees. He noted that it would only be accessed by the custodian to get herbs for blessings and luck to his people or be accessed by someone with the permission from the custodian.

“As Abahagya clan, this forest is highly respected for its riches and blessings. I use herbs from this forest to give blessings and luck to my people. It also helped in protecting our families from domestic violence and break ups, we would bring our women here, bathe with water in this forest and they would never divorce or quarrel” he explained.

Perez Nyangabyaki, the Deputy custodian said they have for long protected the forest against destruction until recently when people, especially youths have encroached on it for agricultural activities, collecting firewood and cutting down trees. He called upon NAPE for continuous support in ensuring that the forest is restored and also in adding value to the herbal medicine from the forest.

“People’s faith in indigenous taboos based on cultural and spiritual faith is being lost and the traditional conservation practice is weakening and the young generation is busy encroaching on the sacred natural sites because they are not sensitized. I thank NAPE for having supported us to fence it and also call for more support.”

In Butimba, the small holder farmer groups that converged from Kigaaga and Kabaale villages in Hoima district and Butimba in Kikuube district showcased the indigenous seeds they are conserving with the use of seed multiplication gardens and traditional seed storage facilities. Some of the seeds that were showcased include local beans, maize, pumpkins, millet, peas and sorghum.

Jesca Buteraba, a member of Butimba Sustainability Conservation said however much government is putting much emphasis on imported seeds that are only accessed in markets, indigenous seeds still prove to be resilient and sustainable in promoting food security. She noted that it’s the reason why they are using traditional approaches of indigenous seed storage and multiplication to ensure that the seeds are protected.

Buteraba also notes that the indigenous seeds are deeply rooted in culture and that’s why they need to be protected from extinction.

“Sorghum is highly used among Bakiga in bonding relationships. When you visit someone’s home, they have to prepare porridge (Obushera) to welcome you. When a child is born, they prepare it too in form of celebration. So what happens when it disappears?” said Buteraba.

At Community Green Radio, Mwongela visited the community seed bank. Julius Kyamanywa, the station manager said the seeds are collected through community green radio and shared with listeners for multiplication.

Vinter Mwongela said she was happy with the work done by NAPE in promoting indigenous knowledge by local communities and strengthening their capacity to promote biodiversity conservation, ecosystem resilience and livelihood improvement.

Addressing the communities, Mwongela said local people are the knowledge hubs and know how the ecosystems can best be conserved and food systems protected. She said the power is in their hands to resist any development that brings destruction to ecosystem services and food insecurity but this can only be achieved when they speak one voice.

She said ABN is ready to support them through NAPE but urged them to stay stronger in resisting whatever is eroding away their rights.

Women standing up to save the ecosystems as expansion of extractive industries takes shape in the Albertine Rift

The rapid growth of extractive industry in Uganda’s Albertine graben is at the same time rapidly affecting the ecosystems and communities previously intact. The activities of oil companies have displaced the fertile farmlands and green vegetation making agriculture increasingly unviable to the host communities.

In Hoima’s Buseruka Sub County where oil refinery is set to be constructed, it is visibly seen that the community land, rivers and ecosystems are being despoiled by extractive activities at an alarming rate. The green vegetation and farmlands can never return to their original state as they have been covered up for construction of Kabale International Airport, expansion of roads and oil pipeline development.

But ranged against this is a network of small holder farmers who are raising against the destruction of natural environment. By reducing the amount of fertile land and destroying the ecosystems, they heavily depend on the favorable climate for agriculture, the host communities are already envisaging reduction of capacity for food production and denying them hope of food sovereignty; which they are resisting.

A few kilometers from the oil refinery area, women small holder farmers organized under Tugarre Ebyobuhangwa women’s group literally meaning ‘Lets save the environment’ have been battling with the leaders and oil companies over the massive destruction of indigenous trees as a result of oil activities.

They accuse the government of fronting the needs of oil companies at the expense of community needs.

“In 2017, our group petitioned Hoima district local government over massive destruction of our natural resources due to infrastructural development for the oil industry like roads. We demanded that government should replace the indigenous trees that have been cut down due to oil activities, protect the communities’ land by issuing land titles and also protect the buffer zones of water bodies,” said Annet Kasolo the group chairperson.

Kasolo says the petition has yielded results. “After the petition, the government is now distributing indigenous trees to farmers to promote agro ecology. So far, I have already received over 1000 indigenous tree species from Hoima district local government and SBC Company that is working on the airport. The government has also promised to issue land certificates and people are currently being evicted from the buffer zones near major streams in this area and swamps,” said Kasolo.

The women are working to raise awareness, share knowledge, and directly resist the destruction of the environment to steward the larger ecosystems on which agriculture depends.

In Kigaaga village, which is in the outskirts of the refinery area, women under Kigaaga Oil Refinery Women Development Association (KORECWODA) are engaged in establishment of indigenous tree nurseries to reforest the area currently destructed by oil developments.

Penina Ruhindi, the group chairperson says as she was growing up, she loved the way her area was forested with dense canopy and indigenous trees. However, as mining extractives take shape, the forests are disappearing and this has a great impact on small holder farmers.

“We decided to start establishing tree nursery beds of indigenous and fruit trees and distributing among members. We encourage boundary tree planting to protect our land from grabbers as we increase the forest cover,” she says.

“With the training from National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), the members are engaged in alternative livelihoods such as beekeeping to reduce their dependency on unsustainable forest practices,” Ruhindi adds.

According to the farmers, the continued forest destruction has contributed to change in seasons which is already affecting farmers. Jesca Buteraba, a member of Butimba Sustainability Conservation Association (BUSUCA) says the farmers are already affected by the long dry spells and heavy rain fall which has threatened food security. According to Buteraba indigenous seeds still prove to be resistant to climate change effects and promoting them would promote food security.

Women are generally the primary custodians of seed diversity and wild biodiversity and therefore play a critical role in maintaining the health and resilience of local ecosystems. She says they are using traditional approaches of indigenous seed storage and multiplication to ensure that the seeds are protected.

NAPE ESTABLISHES LOCAL PEACE COMMITEES IN IDPs and REFUGEE CAMPS IN KIKUUBE DISTRICT

The National Association of Professional Environmentalist (NAPE) has established and trained three Local Peace Committees (LPCS) to promote peaceful co-existence in Kijayo and Rwamutonga camps for Internally Displaced People and Kyangwali refugee camp.

The LPCs were established during a meeting that was held at Riviera Hotel in Hoima City on August 27, aimed at increasing their understanding on their roles and responsibilities and also strengthening the collaboration between the district leaders, local leaders, police  and community members.

Addressing the participants, Joan Akiiza, the Project lead and NAPE Senior Legal Officer  said the committees are expected to hold regular meetings to dialogue and mediate issues brought up by the communities and be able to follow up reported cases at different levels for redress and document the outcomes.

She said they should be able to receive updates on early warning conflict incidents and try to mitigate them early enough to avoid escalation of violence.

“As LPCs, you should help in peace building through dialogue and mediation, identify early warning signs of gender based violence and mitigate them and document the types of conflicts registered in your communities,” Akiiza noted.

Oyuk Sam, the Albertine Regional Police Human Rights and Legal Officer said the LPCs should work with police in their communities to promote justice.

“You need to collaborate with police by sharing of information and intelligence in time and refer cases of criminal in nature to police,” Oyuk said.

Annet Kabahaguzi, the Senior District Community Development Officer for Kikuube district said the committee will help to bridge the gap between district local government and the citizens.

“I am happy that NAPE is coming up with this initiative. In addition to existing structures available, the citizens will use these committees to provide instant response to citizens and reach out to relevant offices where a common person cannot reach,” Kabahaguzi said.

NAPE SUPPORTS WOMEN WITH A MILLET GRINDING MACHINE TO IMPROVE THEIR HOUSEHOLD INCOME

Beatrice Makune, a 52 year old small holder farmer from Kasomoro village in Hoima district has been relying on farming for all her life. Growing up from a peasantry family and missing out on education, Makune got married at 17 years.

To make matters worse, she was widowed at 38 years and left with less than an acre of land to raise her 10 children. As a subsistence farmer, Makune has been utilizing her small piece of land; growing different crops including millet to get income and food for the family.

However, she did not know that adding value to her drought resistant cereal crop would bring her abnormal profits until she attended a millet value addition training that was organized by National Association of professional environmentalists (NAPE) in March this year.

Makune is among the 60 women that were trained on access to better markets through millet value addition for improved livelihoods. The women were trained on how to plant millet, millet preparation, branding and marketing. Fast forward after the training, the women formed Kamu Kamu Women’s Group and are now supplying packed millet flour in their community.

“I was making losses! I would sometimes sell millet from the garden or immediately after harvesting. I would sell a kilogram of millet at 1,500 Uganda shillings. Right after the trained us, we could wait to make losses anymore! We contributed millet as members and started packing clean millet. Now our profits have doubled. We sell at 5000 shillings a kilogram of packed millet flour. We thank NAPE for opening our eyes,” said Makune, now the group chairperson of Kamu Kamu women’s group.

Under Participation and Opportunities for Women Economic Rights (POWER) project, NAPE has supported the group with a millet grinding mill to ease their work burden and also generate income as group.

The machine was handed over to the women by NAPE.

Ms.Makune, the group chairperson said the group was happy to receive the grinding machine. She said they have been having a challenge of taking their millet far for grinding which was time consuming. She said it will go a long way in improving women’s economic empowerment.

Kabahangi Monica, the area district woman councilor said the group was the first of its kind in the sub county to receive a grinding machine. She said some of the challenges affecting women in their community include violation of women’s rights due to limited income and violation of property rights.

Ms.Kabahangi appealed to women to use the project to improve women’s income and ensure that women start buying land on their own.

Women in Kasomoro are among the women that have been supported under POWER project implemented by NAPE and National Association of Women’s Action in Development (NAWAD) to actively promote and protect women’s land and economic rights in Hoima, Buliisa, Nwoya and Amuru districts.

Sostine Namanya, the Project Lead and Gender and Food Security Officer at NAPE said women bear the burden of feeding and supporting families yet compulsory land acquisition in these districts has left them without access to traditional livelihood resources.

She said women have been trained in different local alternative livelihoods like kitchen gardening, beekeeping and crafts making to improve their economic muscle while others have been supported to pursue their land related cases.

While handing over the milling machine, Namanya urged women to ensure that the operationalization of the machine is women-led.

ARTISANAL GOLD MINERS BLAME LEADERS FOR LACK OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH INTERVETION AMONG ARTISANAL MINERS IN KASANDA

Artisanal small scale gold miners in Kassanda district have blamed their leaders for not enforcing occupational safety and health measures which puts their life at risk.

The artisanal miners said Kayonza-Kitumbi Miners Association (KKMA) leaders have not taken action on the artisanal miners who access the mining area without personal protective equipment like gloves and helmets and allow children to access the mines; which exposes them to health risks associated with direct use of mercury in extracting gold.

“We use mercury with little knowledge on its effects on our health. Why can’t the leaders be strict in ensuring that before anyone accesses the mines, they have to be having gloves and helmets,” wondered Sophina Nakate, a gold miner.

This was during the awareness raising workshop on the effects of mercury and other chemicals in Kasanda district that was conducted by National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) on 4th May, 2021 in Kayonza mines.

However, Musa Nduga, the KKMA’s site supervisor says their call of putting on protective gears to miners has fallen in deaf ears.

Dr. Medih Kyakonye, the Kasanda District Environmental Officer, said women in mines in Kasanda take children to the mines; breast feed children and carry pregnancies while touching mercury, which is very dangerous on their health and children’s growth.

He said; “As a student pursuing PHD in Environmental Chemistry, I have found through research that mercury affects the central nervous system and causes reproductive errors like Mongolism and Down syndrome on children. And the problem with mercury is that it does not reduce and it increases through generations.”

He explained that protection of consumers against dangerous chemicals starts with an individual by ensuring responsible consumption, self-regulation against dangerous chemicals and knowing their consumer rights.

Peruth Atukwatse, the Project Manager for Chemicals management and climate change at NAPE said miners should always be mindful of the future generation while using mercury and ensure they embrace mercury-free methodology.

NAPE will continue sensitizing people on sound chemical use and management and possible alternatives of mercury in gold mining.

The miners said they use mercury without knowing its adverse effects and hailed NAPE for continued sensitization and their efforts to introduce Borax method. They formed a Community Green Radio listeners club dubbed “Kayonza mercury-free listeners club” to increase awareness on the dangers of mercury among the miners using the radio.

LEADERS TO DIOLOGUE OVER VIOLATIONS IN IDP AND REFUGEE CAMPS IN HOIMA DISTRICT

District leaders in greater Hoima district have promised to conduct a dialogue aimed at addressing the conflicts facing communities in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in Kijayo and Refugee camp in Kyangwali.

During a validation workshop for a baseline survey on land/natural resources, tribal and Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) conflicts facing communities from Kyangwali Refugee Camp, Rwamutonga and Kijayo Internally Displaced People’s Camp in Kikuube, the affected communities decried continued human rights violations under the watch of district authorities.

The LCI chairman for Kijayo village, Edward Tumusiime said the internally displaced people in Kijayo camp have continued to conflict with Hoima Sugar workers over water, land and access roads despite reporting the matter to relevant authorities.

“Our access roads have been destroyed with molasses from Hoima sugar factory, the water sources are all contaminated with molasses. We have no access to water as women and girls have to walk long distances to find safe and clean water. We have dragged Hoima Sugar Ltd to court seeking for justice for our land but the courts haven’t given any ruling on the case. Why have leaders abandoned us?” said the Tumusiime.

Ms.Harriet Kemirembe, another resident of Kijayo camp asked the district leaders to reach on ground to understand the challenges people are going through.

In response, the Kikuube Chief Administrative Officer, Moses Kapoloni said he will call for a meeting involving the affected people, the district leaders and Hoima Sugar Limited to have a discussion on peaceful co-existence. He said natural resources should be shared equitably since they are for all.

“It is unfortunate that people in the camp are facing such violations. I had sent the Environmental Officer to discuss the water contamination issue with Hoima sugar limited and I thought the issues were resolved. But since it has persisted, we shall have a dialogue immediately after swearing in of district political leadership involving all the district leaders, Hoima Sugar Limited and Kijayo camp residents so that we can forge a way forward together. Meanwhile, the area chairperson should write to me officially over the contaminated water so that I handle this immediately,” he said

In Kyangwali, the refugees decried conflicts over land, sexual exploitation and corruption in accessing health services calling on the district leaders to meet the Officer of the Prime Minister over the matter.

 “It’s hard to access health services or get employment opportunities without money. If you are a lady, they want to first sexually abuse you. Limited resources like money and land have also become the center of gender based violence. All these need redress with the intervention of the district authorities,” Ms. Margret Angelic a refugee in Kyangwali said while presenting issues of Kyangwali.

Kapoloni said he will investigate the issues and address them with OPM immediately.

“Issues of sexual exploitation and corruption should be reported, they are criminal matters that cannot go unpunished,” he responded.

Joan Akiza, the NAPE Lawyer and Project Officer for the 2 year project on conflict prevention said such interfaces with the authorities help the affected people to seek redress on issues affecting them. She said the approach of the project is dialogue and mediation to ensure peaceful co-existence of all persons in these camps.

She said NAPE will follow up and organize the dialogues so that the issues raised are addressed and communities continue to live peacefully.