Transiting from the use of mercury to a more user friendly, less harmful and more productive methodology of using Borax in artisanal gold mining is still slow but catching up with intensive trainings among artisanal miners especially in Kassanda district.
Despite some of them knowing the harmful impacts of mercury, their mindset is still stuck to the fact that mercury is still the best option alternative, perhaps due to lack of enough sensitization on alternative choices.
“I used to work in Mulago National Referral Hospital as a technician before coming here in the mines. We used to ensure that mercury is not poorly exposed because of its harmful impacts on someone’s health. But when I came here, I found people touching, inhaling and even pouring it on ground which is very dangerous. But because most of us miners are here to make money for our children, we are aware that we shall not live long but shall leave the families happy,” said Wasswa Ssekalye, 52, a gold miner in cygonmining (Kayonza) site in Kitumbi sub county.
With the efforts to change this mindset and promote mercury free gold mining, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) organised a learning exchangeand experience sharing where experienced artisanal mining trainers who have used borax method in Buhweju and Namayingo districts to train their counterparts in Kasanda district.
NAPE, working with support from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF)-Uganda, a small grants program under United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on a project to promote mercury free methodology in artisanal and small scale gold miners put up a demonstration site in Kayonza mining site which is being used as training center for artisanal miners in Borax use in gold mining that is less harmful to human health and the environment.
During the training, over 20 artisanal miners were trained in Borax technology so that they are able to train others in Kitumbi-Kayonza gold mining. Kitumbi-Kayonza gold mining site brings together over 500 artisanal miners registered under Kitumbi-Kayonza Gold Miners Association (KKMA) in Kitumbi Sub County Kasanda district.
Sande Patrick, an artisan trainer from Namayingo district said he was ignorantly using mercury to extract gold from iron ore not knowing its negative impacts on health and environment until 2014.
“I started using mercury in 2009 when I joined artisanal gold mining. We used to get challenges like corrosive skin, headache and general body weaknesses not knowing that it’s as a result of absorption of mercury into our bodies,” Sande told artisanal miners during training.
Sande added, “However, when we met NAPE in 2014, we were sensitized about the dangers of mercury and trained in Borax use as an alternative and since then we have never looked back. A few of us who were trained have been able to train others and we are slowly phased out mercury use in Namayingo because we need life.”
Jane Ahimbisibwe, another artisanal trainer from Buhweju said for the time she has been using Borax she has observed that the gold recovery from iron ore is high and borax is readily available and less expensive in the market since it is not illegal like mercury.
“As women, we are the ones who normally move with children to the mines, who inhale mercury vapor even when we are pregnant and this puts our children’s growth at stake. Its better we spearhead this campaign against mercury use,” she said during the training.
The miners expressed willingness to switch to the use of Borax but called for more training to learn the methodology better.
“We need more training for the miners to get acquainted with Borax technology. And when we know the big number has been trained, it will give us a basis of fighting mercury in the mines as leaders,” said Ssempala Herbert Edward, the Manager for KitumbiKayonza Miners Association.
Mr. Ssempala hailed NAPE for coming up to train artisanal miners on alternatives of extracting gold.
“We shall ensure that every one gets trained and from there it will help us to phase out mercury knowing that everyone has knowledge on the alternative,” Ssempala said.
He, however, notes that the government is partly to blame for the weak laws to control mercury from being smuggled into the country and lack of enough sensitization on other methods to be used in gold extraction.
“Mercuryuse in the mines isillegal in the country but we don’t know how it ends up here. KKMA is against Mercury use but how to control it is a problem. The government should help us by ensuring that it is not smuggled into the country and also promote other alternatives as we work together to promote mercury free gold mining,” Ssempala says.
Peruth Atukwatse, the Program Officer in Charge of Sound Chemical Management at NAPE said since the artisanal miners areorganized under KKMA for the case of kayonza, the association leaders should spearhead the fight against mercury use by embracing the opportunity of getting training on Borax use and slowly phasing out use of mercury.
She also said the government should speed up the process of passing the Mining and Mineral Bill 2019 that is currently in draft form and ensures that there is emphasis on regulating the chemicals like mercury that miners use to extract gold.
On 1st March 2019, Uganda became a signatory to Minamata Convention, the first global treaty that seeks to protect human health and the physical environment from mercury emissions and its release into the environment.With Minamata Convention coming into force, there is need to raise more awareness on the dangers of mercury and promoting less harmful alternative mining practices. This project is contributing to such global efforts of phasing out mercury use.
In a move to raise public awareness on sound chemical use and waste management, the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) has disseminated awareness materials to the districts of Kiboga, Kassanda, and Kyankwanzi.
The materials in form of t-shirts, caps, stickers and posters that display information on proper use of agro-chemicals, health impacts of mercury use and proper waste management were handed over to the district officials in the respective districts and other members of the public for easy information dissemination.
Ms.Peruth Atukwatse, the Program Officer in charge of Chemicals Management at NAPE says though chemicals are used in day to day life in different products, there is need for consumers to be conscious of the contents of the products they use. She says different chemicals may pose great threats to ecosystems and human health if not properly handled.
Ms. Atukwatse believes lack of awareness in handling, storage and use of most of the chemicals like pesticides and herbicides in still a big issue in many communities. She says poor disposal of wastes and uncontrolled dumping continues to pose a threat to people and the environment.
“Artisanal miners use mercury to extract gold which is harmful to their health and environment. Even farmers are using agro-chemicals without protective gears. Therefore, we are coming up with these materials to disseminate information on these dangers and proper handling but also promoting less harmful alternatives,” she said while handing over the materials to Kassanda district officials.
While receiving the materials, JohnBosco Ssewankambo, the Kassanda Deputy Chief Administrative Officer said the materials were timely since artisanal gold mining has now become a big economic activity in the district where miners use mercury. He also added that Kassanda is known for growing maize and coffee and sometimes farmers use agrochemicals without protective gears.
“These materials will help us to raise public awareness because they understand better when you are showing them pictures explaining the dangers, we are going to also disseminate the materials to the respective communities” Ssewankambo said.
In Kiboga, the materials were received by the district Senior Natural Resource Officer, Patrick Musasizi who hailed NAPE and Community Green Radio for contributing towards natural resource conservation.
“However much we try to sensitize the public on dangers of improper handling of chemicals and poor waste management, the intake is still low. We therefore thank NAPE for these materials and the radio for always advocating for environmental conservation. You are easing our work,” Musasizi said.
Several residents affected by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project in Hoima, and Kikuube districts have lost patience and returned to the land reserved for the oil pipeline to cultivate crops.
The decision stems from the delayed compensation of the affected families and lack of activity on the land.
Samuel Tugumisirize, the Butimba village chairperson in Kikuube district says the affected people chose to return to their land and cultivate maize, beans, tomatoes, sweet and Irish potatoes since they are uncertain when the pipeline activities will resume.
Tugumisirize says it is unacceptable to keep the land and houses idle.
“Many people have been asking me on whether they should use their land and I gave them a go ahead because the land is idle. However, those whose unfinished buildings were affected are stuck because they were assured that they would only compensate only what was valuated during mapping and valuation exercise,” Tugumisirize explains.
Kirungi Kadri, the Hoima District Chairperson says the suspension of the oil pipeline activities have since triggered mixed feelings among the affected residents.
He reveals that government hasn’t engaged the affected communities on the next course of action, adding that the PAPs have to keep track of the pipeline process through regular sensitization, which is not done.
Total Uganda contracted New Plan Limited to carry out the mapping and valuation exercise.
However, government suspended the oil pipeline project in September 2019 following the collapse of Tullow-Total deal, which slowed the project. In 2020, government entered a joint venture partnership and resumed the project. The new deal was expected to be signed early this year.
However, the Energy and Mineral Developments Minister, Mary Goretti Kitutu Kimono says the matter was left to the president, saying she has nothing much to comment on the matter at the moment.
The Ugandan section of the pipeline is about 296km and passes through 10 districts, 25 sub-counties and 172 villages, of the total length of 1,443km from the proposed pump station in Hoima to Chongleani terminal near Tanga port on the Indian Ocean.
Artisanal gold miners in Kasanda, formally Mubende district are calling for more awareness and sensitization on other methods in gold extraction to completely phase out mercury use which is hazardous to environment and harmful to human health.
According to artisanal gold miners, most of them still use mercury in extraction of gold despite its visible dangers on their health and environment.
Ivan Kauma, a member of Kitumbi-Kayonzo Miners’Association (KKMA) in Kasanda says though borax method has been introduced, the miners are still stuck on old technology of mercury use which calls for intensive trainings.
Mr.Kauma explains that many artisanal miners are used to mixing mercury with gold ore before exposing the mixture to the heat to separate the gold from the rock. He explains that the miners are poisoned by mercury vapor released in the process of heating.
Bernard Mutesasira, another gold miner notes that most miners use mercury without protective gears and that the washed water polluted with mercury is just poured on the ground; contaminating the soil and underground water.
“Those who have been in the business have complained of absorption of mercury into the skin causing corrosive skin, headache, back pain and constant shaking which is highly attributed to the use of mercury,” Mutesasira says.
Joyce Katusiime, a woman miner dealing in buying and crushing the ore in Lubali mining site in Kasanda says though the demonstration on how Borax works has not yet been done, the theory trainings they have had so far show that use of borax is better if adopted by all the miners.
She explains that much sensitization is needed to ensure that gold miners work in a mercury free environment in addition to further awareness rising on the effects of mercury.
National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) with support from the Global Environmental Facility(GEF)-Uganda, a small grants program under United Nations Development Program(UNDP) has been working with other partners and government to reduce mercury use and promote use of borax as an alternative technology in Kasanda and other mining districts in Uganda.
Peruth Atukwatse, the officer in charge of chemicals management and climate change at NAPE is delighted that the artisanal gold miners now know and appreciate the dangers associated with use of mercury and are willing to uptake other safer alternative technologies.
She says the introduction of Borax is in line with Minamata Convention on mercury which was adopted in 2013. The convention, which Uganda is a signatory, set clear time-bound targets to phase out the manufacture, export and import of mercury and mercury added products.
Ms. Atuwatse explains that as NAPE, they aim at reducing the health and environmental risks of mercury and they will continue to sensitize miners on borax use until mercury use is completely phased out. She says borax is advantageous over mercury since the former increases productivity and high gold recovery that results in better overall economics of miners, borax is readily available on the market, cheap and its use in mining legal in Uganda.
The survey carried out by NAPE and other partners between July and August 2018 established that the levels of mercury pollution in the blood of miners, soil, and water and food crop contamination were very high in the mining districts of Busia, Buhweju, Mubende, Namayingo and Karamoja.
Human rights activists have asked the security operatives to respect human rights as measures are being enforced to curb the spread of corona virus.
The Human Rights Officer at Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) Hoima Regional Office, Hope Bagota said the commission has received many complaints of human rights violations during the period of COVID-19. She said the commission is currently investigating cases of torture by security agencies and other human rights violations so that the victims get justice.
Bagota explains that the respect of human rights is enshrined in article 221 of the Constitution of Uganda and security agencies should work in line with that.
“Human rights such as right to fair hearing, freedom from torture and others cannot be taken away by state or any other person at any circumstance,” she explained.
This was during the radio talk show on Human Rights that was held at Community Green Radio Kiboga and organised by National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) with support from Fund for Global Human Rights on May 21.
Others that attended the radio talk show included ASP Francis Magumba, the Community Liaisons Officer for Albetine Region, Surgent Lawrence Byansi, the Community Liasons Officer for Kiboga Central Police station and JescaNanyondo, a community member from Mulagi Sub County in Kyankwanzi.
During the show, many listeners accused securing officers of harassment and use of excessive force during the lockdown.
“LDUs always ask for evidence from pregnant mothers on whether they are pregnant, women in early stages of pregnancy have had rough time explaining this,” said Mildred Atuhaise from Kasanda district.
“Why do you have to wait for the COVID-19 curve to flatten for the human rights perpetrators to be charged before court yet they continue to abuse people’s rights,” Annet Kengonzi from Kaiso Tonya in Hoima district asked.
Jesca Nanyondo also mentioned that in most cases women have been the victims of torture during the lockdown and curfew due to their traditional roles of providing food and care for the families.
“Sometimes women are caught up when they are from looking for food or medicine for the children. However, it has been hard explaining some of these cases to police officers on duty,” she noted.
In defence, ASP magumba said people have misinterpreted the presidential directives and they sometimes provoke security operatives.
However, the Human Rights Officer, Bagota said all these cases, backed by evidence, should be reported to the commission so that they can be followed up.
Nanyondo appreciated the show and called upon NAPE to organize more talk shows so that people can have a better understanding of their rights and have interactions with security operatives and human rights activists.
Joan Akiza, the senior Gender and Legal Officer at NAPE noted that rights of vulnerable persons such as Persons with disabilities, women and children should be protected and it’s sad that mothers are dying as they walk to health facilities due to the ban on public & private transport. She promised to organize more talk shows aimed at sensitizing communities on how they can enjoy their rights during the covid-19 crisis.
In the recent press briefing, the Acting Chairperson UHRC, said the commission had so far received 128 complaints of human rights violations, some of which are the cases of torture by security agencies.
In the wake of rising COVID-19 cases, Community Green Radio has dedicated time and resources to provide the population with information of the pandemic, increase positivity and reduce anxiety among people.
The radio broadcasts public health messages from health officials on how communities can keep themselves safe. The radio constantly gives updates on government plans and preparations for the virus and how it has impacted on communities.
This is despite the challenges the staff are going through to deliver this noble cause. The ban on public transport has rendered some staff immobile while some of the staff working during curfew time hours have been forced to be accommodated at office.
According to the Station Manager Mr. Julius Kyamanywa, some vital programs like community dialogues and debates were cancelled. They have also changed its programming to focus on the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We had to redesign the programming to suit the government guidelines especially on staying home, social distancing and night curfew. We tremendously reduced on the guests we host in studios”, explained Mr. Kyamanywa.
The manager maintains that even when the radio has been forced to make adjustments, this has not stopped their goal of amplifying the voices of local communities.
“We have been able to give the communities a voice particularly on the impact of COVID 19 on their lives and what they expect from public office bearers. We have been using phone recorded audio to collect peoples voices”, the Manager explained.
A 50 year old Ruth Kasimba lives in Butimba village in Kikuubedistrict; a few kilometers near where Uganda’s proposed oil refinery will be constructed in Kabale parish in Uganda’s oil-rich Hoima district.
Like any other rural woman, Kasimba collects firewood for cooking- the exercise she describes as physically exhausting but also mentally draining.
However, as a peasant farmer who grows different types of crops for food and sale, Kasimbacould not believe that the daily-throw away garbage like banana and cassava peelings could turn into fortune tosave women from the long distance walks to collect firewood.
In one of the Nyinabwenge radio talk shows at Community Green Radio, Kasimba learnt about how to covert peelings into charcoal briquettes.
“I learn on radio that after collecting the peelings, they are spread under the sun for some hours until they get dry. The dried peelings are then burnt slowly until they become ash,” she said.
“The ash is then mixed with soil and cassava porridge and then poured into a charcoal presser machine to come up with briquettes or one can use hands to make the briquette size of their choice,” she added.
Kasimba, who is a member of Butimba listeners club, sold the idea 15 other group members and now they are currently making briquettes for home use and are trying to expand the business for economic venture.
Kasimba is among many listeners who are trying to put into action what they listen on radio.
Away from making charcoal briquettes, Butimba listeners club is engaged in making indigenous tree nursery beds to conserve the environment.
Butimba listeners club is one of the pioneer clubs that started with Community Green Radio during its inception in 2014.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 women-dominated listeners’ club members don’tonly listen. They put into action what they have learnt and also train other new listeners clubs about what they are doing.
PeninaRuhindi, a member of Kigaaga Community Radio listeners club in Kabale village in Homa district- which is adjacent to the oil refinery says they are putting into action the lessons from the radio to ensure sustainable agriculture by planting indigenous trees which encourage agro-forestry and also defend their rights as women.
“When we listen, we reflect on our community and identify the challenges talked about. We then try to find the solutions. Like now we are taking it upon ourselves as listeners club members to encourage women to gain confidence and speak up on issues affecting them and defend their rights. We encourage women to go on radio, as women we have started practicing boundary tree planting to defend our land from grabbers,” she said.
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. I did not know that me as Bahongye, a rural peasant farmer can be on the radio. I thank the radio management for aiming at amplifying women. I have indigenous knowledge on farming like best seed selection and pest control which I have shared on radio, and even people come looking for me to learn. I also know that as a woman I have a right to protect my crops from being sold by my husband from the garden. This has been common by the way because men knew we can’t defend ourselves. But listening to my voice on radio itself makes him think am empowered and I can do anything to protect myself,” She said.
Since the discovery of commercially viable oil deposits in Albertine Graben in Uganda in 2006, the high demand for land to pave way for oil exploitation as well as speculative investment has heavily impacted on host communities in theregion. The host communities are faced with evictions and displacements to pave way for oil developments. However, for the vulnerable groups such as women and children who largely depend on land for livelihood, the situation is worse. (The article on this link explains how women are impacted,http://www.nape.or.ug/10-blog/132-there-is-nothing-good-out-of-the-mines)
Despite the challenges faced by women, the voicesremained mute with untold suffering, their stories untold and underreported.
This is why National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), a local Non-Governmental Organisation, introduced Uganda Community Green Radio in 2014 in Bunyoro region to address human rights violations.
Nyinabwenge show- Women’s programwas put to specifically amplify the voices of rural women so that they can be heard, to engage them in policy making and protection of property rights, improve food security and address gender gaps in the environmental arena.
The program runs every Saturday evening for two hours and is done by Precious Naturinda as the main host and field reporter, Sara Kyeyune as a co-host, Julius Kyamanywa as the Program Director and Allan Kalangi as the overall radio manager.
The radio has helped women to gain confidence by recording them and inviting them in their radio show where they feel it’s a safe space for them to talk about issues affecting them without fear and hold their leaders accountable.
Women are engaged in conservation efforts and addressing climate change being leading by examples in their communities and disseminating their expertise using the radio. Butimba listeners club in Kikuube district, Kigaaga listeners club in Hoima district and Ngwedo listeners club in Buliisa among others are all engaged in raising indigenous trees and distributing to community members. They are also engage in food security and seed sovereignty campaigns by constructing granaries at households and having group seed multiplication gardens(of indigenous seeds which are facing extinct) which are then distributed amongst themselves.
The radio started with affiliation through another radio but last year, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) purchased Radio Kiboga FM which is being rebranded to Community Green Radio.
According to Allan Kalangi, the officer in charge of the Radio at NAPE, many women contribute a lot towards development but their contributions and success are underreported. However, giving them a program has become a platform for them to sensitize others and they feel they are recognized in society.
Uganda community radio has won 2020 Liz Hughes award from Farm Radio International for the radio’s effort in amplifying the voices of women and addressing local gender equality issues.
The radio was awarded in recognition of its Nyinabwenge women’s program that specifically amplifies the voices of rural women so that they can be heard, take part in policy-making and protection of their rights, improve food security and address gender gaps in environmental arena among others.
“I would like to congratulate you on winning the 2020 Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio. We received more than 60 applications, and your were chosen as this year’s winner. Your application clearly shows that you have identified gender equality issues in your community and are working with women, men and gender experts to discuss and even change these dynamics. You also dedicate a lot of airtime to your women’s program, and make sure to air it at a time and in a language that is convenient for your audience. I congratulate you on your hard work on the program and your fantastic storytelling,” read part of the mail from Katie Burnham, the resource coordinator for Farm Radio International.
Uganda community radio came up as winners beating RTB Gaoua from Burkina Faso, Radio Munyu from Burkina Faso, Radio Kwizera from Tanzania, KituloFm from Tanzania and Fana Broadcasting Cooperation from Ethiopia.
Farm Radio is expected to hand over the award to Uganda Community Green Radio on 8th March in a colorful ceremony that will be held at the radio officers in Kiboga district in Uganda.
Nyinabwenge program runs every Saturday for two hours. It has helped women to gain confidence and is trying to change the narrative on gender roles.
The Liz Hughes Award for her Farm Radio is an award given by Farm Radio International to recognize radio programs that address gender equality and create opportunities to share the voices of rural women.
Allan Kalangi, the officer in charge of Community Green Radio at National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) expressed excitement over the award saying it depicts the great mile stone achieved in amplifying the voices of rural women and promoting gender equality.
Uganda Community Green Radio: Winner of the Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio
Residents of Kyakaboga resettlement camp in Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district have decried the devastating conditions in the camp in addition to injustices resulting from delayed promises from government.
The residents, who opted for resettlement after being evicted from their land to pave way for oil refinery in Kabaale parish, say they are fed up with government’s ‘empty promises’ offirst class marrumroads, land titles and safe water as it was indicated in the Resettlement Action Plan.
SadamTekakwo, the Chairperson of the Resettled residents says they feel insecure without land titles in the oil-rich district where land grabbing is high.
“Seven people in the resettlement camp have been affected by the oil pipeline, however, they have failed to sign consent forms because they have no land titles. Even us who prefer to sell our houses in the camp due to poor living conditions and shift to other places, can’t sell due to lack of land titles,” says Tekakwo.
PhabisShabohurira, a resident says poor roads have cut off access to markets for their produce affecting their livelihood. She adds that though they have water tanks, women trek long distances to water points where one has to even join a long cue.
“The roads are very poor; we are forced to sell our produce cheaply because we have no option. This is affecting us women since most of us depend on agriculture for livelihood,” she decries.
The residents also say that congestion in the camp has led to conflicts and poor hygiene.
“The toilets, which are close to the houses, have already started smelling with in just 2 years of our stay here. Besides that Buseruka is known for having cholera outbreak during rainy season. We are worried the future is not bright for us,” says KetraMusinguzi.
Grace Cupato another resident says conflicts among residents are on increase due to cultural differences and congestion.
“One cannot live a goat or chicken at home, you find when it has been either stolen or killed,’ says Cupato
Innocent Tumwebaze, the secretary for Oil Refinery Affected Residents Association (ORRA) says they are continuing to put pressure on government to ensure that the promises made are fulfilled.
Tumwebaze says with empowerment from National Association Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) they willcontinue to petition government in quest for justice.
“If we do not fight for ourselves, no one will fight for us. Recently when I contacted one of the officials from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, he told me they are still processing our land titles. We shall not give up until we get what we were promised,” says Tumwebaze
Poor and delayed compensation has frustrated the livelihoods of the residents affected by Central Processing Facility (CPF) in Ngwedo Sub County in Buliisa district.
Government acquired land measuring about 310 hectares which will host CPF, access road and base camp during the petroleum activities, according to the Resettlement Action Plan, leaving over 700 people affected.
According to Ngwedo Sub County Chairperson, Steven KaliisaMunange, compensation for property has been marred by delays and low rates, which has adversely affected residents especially women, who derive their livelihood from agriculture.
He explains, “Three years down the road, government has gone silent on 8 people who preferred cash compensation for their land after rejecting 3.5 million shillings per acre. Those who preferred land to land compensation have waited in vain while those who were compensated for crops and property were inadequately compensated.”
Margret Nyakato, 42, a mother of 8 says she was given 20 million shillings as compensation for the crops and a single roomed house which is undergoing construction.
She says she thought the money given to her would help her acquire her own land but due to delayed compensation, the money found her in debts. She says she has now resorted to selling firewood for survival since she has nowhere to cultivate.
She also wonders how she will stay in a single roomed house constructed to her with the 8 children.
“I had my cassava, oranges and jack fruit trees which I would sell and get school fees and income. But now I am stuck that’s why I have resorted to selling firewood. They stopped us from cultivating early yet they delayed to compensate us. This left me with no other option but get a loan so when the compensation money came, it cleared the loan and I remained with nothing,” Nyakato explained.
Margret Asiimwe, 52, says she was supposed to get a house and cash compensation for the land but has since waited in vain despite being stopped from using the land. She says she is now surviving on selling firewood and grass for food since she has nowhere to go.
“I am affected twice. I am HIV positive and my land was taken away from me. Why can’t government give me my money so that I can buy land for my children before I die?” she said.
For Dorothy Mbabazi, who preferred land to land compensation, government identified land which was rejected by residents saying it was not fertile. She says since then, government has remained silent.
“I don’t know whether government has forgotten us or when they will help us. They should rather let us use the land since it is lying idle until they start using it,” she said.
Kaliisa says Ngwedo is the main food basket for the entire district since it is the only area for agriculture. He says tampering with agricultural land in the area affects food security in the entire district.
He suggests that since the land that was acquired for the pipeline was idle, government should allow the affected residents to continue using the land until they get set to start the developments.
Alice Kazimura, the Executive Directive for Kakindo Orphans Care, a local advocacy group that works with National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) says they continue to advocate for the rights of communities by engaging government and oil companies. She says they are also sensitizing women to come up with alternative income generating activities apart from selling grass and firewood