In commemoration of International Women’s Day, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) held a networking and exhibition event where women were able to share experiences, connect with feminists, climate activists and artists on innovative ways of addressing climate change.
The event that was held at Innovation village in Jinja city was organized by the Gender and climate Change coalition partners –NAPE, Fridays for Future Uganda, Girls for Climate Action and Simma Africa Creative Arts Foundation.
During the event, the women affected by climate disasters shared experiences of how massive crop failures as a result of long dry spells, heavy rains and floods have destroyed their livelihoods.
Ms. Monica Namutebi, a 52-year-old mother of 9 children narrated how she lost her livelihood and sustained injuries when the heavy down pour blew off her roof top and forced her to relocate from Kaliro district in 2019.
Ms. Namutebi, who relocated to Butiki ward in Jinja city, said that she was with her children in the house at around 10:00 PM when the strong wind blew off the roof top following three hours of heavy rains.
“As it was raining heavily, the wind suddenly blew off the iron sheet and hit me while I was trying to save the children. My husband had gone to the bar and I had no one to save me. When I survived, I left the place and relocated with my children,” she narrated.
Ms. Esther Batwala, one of the residents from Jinja who relocated from Bududa district following the mudslides noted that losing her property and livelihood to floods has left her to start from scratch.
Ms. Joan Akiiza, the Senior Gender and Legal Officer at NAPE noted that as government is put to task to accelerate efforts to contain the climate crisis which is mainly affecting the women whose livelihood depends on natural resources and the future of the young generation, women and young people should embrace climate smart innovations and technology.
Ms. Sandra Suubi, a musician and a visual artist asked the women and youth to get innovative solutions of ending plastic pollution. Ms. Suubi, who came dressed in an outfit made of plastics, said she is using her talent of visual arts to turn plastics into decorations and also address climate advocacy through music.
“I normally put on the plastic outfit and go the lake shores and this sends a message to them that plastics need to be recycled. As an artist, listening to such heartbreaking stories of women impacted by climate disasters trigger me to compose them into songs which I share with the world on internet and also sing every time I get an opportunity. I am using my talent to advocate for climate justice because it affects everyone including me,” said Ms. Suubi during the experience sharing.
Ms. Patricia Namirembe from Fridays for Future Uganda noted that they are using social media to amplify the voices of youth and women affected by climate change and call on leaders to act.
The women were treated to an exhibition which involved dustbins made out plastic bottles, biogas and short videos on making energy saving stoves to minimize on firewood use and electricity bicycles.
The theme for this year’s international women’s day was, “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality.
As a way of enhancing the adaptability of radio staff and listeners to the growing technological needs in communication and use of social media platforms, the National Association of Professional Environmentalists last month conducted a training for Community Green radio staff and representatives of listeners on the use of Twitter.
The training was conducted at the radio premises in Kiboga town in central Uganda and was specific on how to use twitter to convey information.
Ms. Grace Kirabo from LWEGA TECH LTD took participants through the use of various tools and features on twitter. These included creating content, attaching images and using twitter space. Twitter space enables individuals to hold virtual meetings, accommodating up to 100 participants.
Allan Kalangi, the NAPE Sustainability School Programme Manager appealed to participants to continue using social media especially twitter to convey messages to distant audiences for advocacy purposes.
“Given the current trend of technological advancement, many people are now using social media to communicate. There is need to learn more about using different social media platforms to help us reach out to far audiences but also to advocate for community good and human rights”, Mr. Kalangi explained.
Kalangi assured the participants that the organization will continue organizing more of such trainings to enhance the capacity of the radio staff and listeners in the use of other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Twitter is a free social networking site where users broadcast short posts known as tweets. These tweets can contain text, videos, photos or links.
The ministry of Water and Environment, National Association of Professional Environmentalists(NAPE) and Walkers Association of Uganda are on a campaign to remind Ugandans to conserve the environment. The campaign entails an annual water and Environment week, code named “Uganda Water and Environment Week (UWEWK)”. It is a weeklong event that is organized annually by the Ministry through the Water Resources Institute. Since its inception in 2018, the event seeks to contribute towards the attainment of Sustainable Socio-economic Transformation and achieving Ugandan National Development Plan and vision 2040. The week provides an interface between sector actors and other stakeholders for knowledge exchange, dialoguing, learning for improvement of Uganda’s water and environment resources.
“People have forgotten their role in conservation and this event (Water and Environment week) is meant to remind citizens that it’s their role to protect the environment”, said Mr. Babi Gerald from the Ministry of Water and Environment while on Community Green Radio on March 6th, a day before a community clean up exercise in Kiboga town Kiboga District.
This year’s week, that runs between 12th and 17th March will explore the linkage between climate resilience and economic growth in emerging challenges in management and development of water and environment resources, and the need for a systematic review of links, policy options and knowledge gaps. It will also explore the balance between pre-disaster and post-disaster investment needs to be examined more explicitly, Innovative financing to improving access to capital for medium and long-term investments in Water and Environment developments with the implementation of measures to support climate resilience infrastructure and a better understanding of which tools work well for vulnerable populations and recognizing that different tools might be needed to respond to different needs.
This year, through Walkers Association of Uganda, the campaign involves a 270km walk for water and environment for climate resilient development from the King Fisher Development Area, Kikuube District to the Ministry of Water and Environment in Luzira, Kampala via the North Western route from 27th February to 10th March, 2023 a distance of approximately 320 Km. The objective of the walk is to provide an understanding of the role of Water and Environment resources in contributing towards the climate resilient development and Socio-Economic Transformation of Uganda.
RATIONALE OF THE 270KM WALK
Due to the existing and emerging issues such as Oil and Gas Development and its adverse environmental impacts in the Albertine Graben, Pollution from industrial activities, Encroachment on the water, wetlands and forest (Bugoma CFR) including other biodiversity and the exertion of pressure on natural resources by the communities and Refugees in refugee hosting communities. It is viable that the communities, developers, CSOs, NGOs, Religious and Cultural Institutions, industrialists, government institutions, schools among others come together and dialogue on the issues and provide solutions and as well showcase the interventions towards mitigating the impacts of climate change, adapting to climate change and sustainable co-existence with the environment.
The radio talk show on Community Green Radio was attended by Ms. Florence Naiga, the climate change Officer at the Ministry of Water and Environment, Ms. Margret Nanyonga, Forestry Officer Kiboga District and Ms. Nakandi Zainabu, the Senior Environment Officer Kiboga District.
During the show, Ms. Naiga said Uganda is under obligation to fight climate change given the country’s position in international climate platforms.
“Uganda is a member of the COP (conference of parties) where member countries have nationally determined contributions. As Uganda, we are obliged to fight deforestation through afforestation to help in carbon capture”, Ms. Naiga explained.
Rev. Fred Musimenta is among the affected persons in Butimba Village, Kizirafumbi Sub County in Kikuube district that have not yet been compensated for their land earmarked for the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.
According to Rev. Musimenta, he resolved to halt signing of evaluation and compensation forms pending response to his complaints about unfair compensation.
“My property was undervalued and I refused to sign for that little compensation. The evaluation rates that were used were not current, since then nothing has been done,” said Rev. Musimenta.
80-year old Norah Kakenge, another project affected person from Butimba village also wonders why the compensation has been delayed and fears that she might die before receiving her package.
“I am staying with orphans. My land was being used as collateral in the bank to get loan for school fees and now I am not able to do it. It has since affected me that I have nowhere to get money from and these delays make me fear that I might die before I receive it,” she said.
Eng. Herbert Magezi Mugizi, the Principle Engineer in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development – MEMD disclosed that close to 68 percent of the PAPs have already been compensated while the pending compensations are expected to be concluded by the end of 2023
Despite the delays, cabinet has approved the application by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Company Limited for a license for the construction of the 1,443 km long East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline in Uganda.
Addressing a press conference on 19th February, Mr. Magezi, said the approval of the applicable license now grants the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Company Limited legal access to start actual construction.
Rev. Musimenta says the green light to pipeline construction leaves them in fear that they will be compromised into consenting to the unfair compensation values as they have done to some of their colleagues.
The land acquisition program for the said project was rolled out in August 2018 and the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) promised to start compensation in early 2021. However, until today, the project-affected persons have not received compensation, even though they were stopped from using their land.
Kikuube Vice Chairperson, Vincent Opio said people’s livelihoods and development progress have been affected by delayed compensation urging the government to accelerate the compensation process for the smooth running of the project.
The new Director for Rosa Luxemburg Foundation for East Africa, Katrin Voss has commended the efforts of Community Green Radio and communities in promoting human rights and preserving indigenous seeds for food sovereignty in Albertine Region.
Ms.Katrin and Mr.Samuel Kasirye, the Rosa Program Coordinator for Uganda were on a 2-day tour to Community Green Radio and Sustainability Members supported by RLS through National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) in Kiboga, Hoima, Kikuube and Buliisa districts.
During her tour, Ms.Katrin was treated to exhibitions of indigenous food species and eco-friendly projects carried out by listeners clubs and sustainability school members to promote food sovereignty and conserve the environment.
At Community Green Radio, the Listeners Club Members exhibited packed honey, tradition crafts and rabbits. Sarah Kamyuka, the chairperson of Kapeke Listeners club said they listen and put into practice what they learn on radio and also share with others. She said each listeners club has a project they are carrying out to act as role models through improved livelihoods and environmental conservation.
In Butimba, Lucy Mbuubi, a member of Butimba Sustainability School said NAPE has supported them in fighting for human rights and promoting food sovereignty. They exhibited indigenous maize, ground nuts, beans, millet and sorghum that the group is conserving and promoting in communities.
In Buliisa; Alice Kazimura, the Director for Kakindo Women’s Integrated Development Association (KAWIDA) 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 led t food insecurity. She said the communities with support from ROSA through NAPE have played a big role in sensitizing communities about the challenges and finding solutions. The group exhibited indigenous cassava, sweet potatoes, beans and pumpkins the group is promoting.
Katrin said she was impressed that the communities are actively taking part in conserving the indigenous seeds which are resilient to climate changes and can promote food sovereignty in homes.
She said she was shocked by what capitalists are doing the country; taking away land for industrialization, forcing land titling to communities and introducing Genetically modified seeds which in turn are largely contributing to violence against women, threatening food insecurity and causing injustices on land.
She said she is equally happy that the communities especially women are aware of the challenges and taking swift efforts to solve the problems.
“I am proud of you! Seeing you strong and standing together in solidarity to fight against violence against women, taking care of local seeds and finding solutions, I feel so impressed. And I encourage you to continue saving the seeds, have kitchen gardens to maintain food security and continue protecting women against violence caused by developments,” she said.
She pledged Rosa’s commitment to continue supporting the communities.
“Rosa will not stop supporting the projects and we are proud of you!” she said addressing communities in Kikuube, Hoima and Buliisa districts in separate engagements.
Cabinet of Uganda has approved the application by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Company Limited for a license for the construction of the 296 km long East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline in Uganda.
The State Minister of Information Communication Technology – ICT and National Guidance, Godfrey Baluku Kabyanga, and officials from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development communicated the development at a press conference at the Uganda Media Centre on Thursday.
Kabyanga said that Cabinet approved the application on Monday, indicating that the new corridor linking the two countries will bring benefits including the development of new infrastructure, logistics, and technology transfer as well as improving the livelihoods of communities along the route.
Eng. Herbert Magezi Mugizi, the Principle Engineer in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development – MEMD, said the approval of the applicable license now grants the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Company Limited legal access to start actual construction.
The East African Crude Oil Pipeline project will displace at least 118, 348 persons (56,460 in Uganda and 61,889 in Tanzania). However, challenges relating to land acquisition due to contestations of valuations by the project-affected persons – PAPs still remain eminent.
Eng. Magezi disclosed that close to 68 percent of the PAPs have already been compensated while the pending compensations are expected to be concluded by the end of 2023.
The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development says the engineering detail currently stands at 33 percent and major procurements have been awarded by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Company Limited for the purchase of line pipes, high voltage, and marine cables, among others.
The approved pipeline construction project, that will consume about 2,740 acres of land, was awarded to a private company, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Company Limited. The overall 1,443 km pipeline runs from Hoima district in western Uganda to the Port neighboring Tanzania.
The crude oil project which is worth 13.248 trillion Shillings (USD 3.6 million) traverses 171 villages across 10 districts of Kabaale, Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Mubende, Ggomba, Ssembabuule, Lwengo, Rakai and Kyotera.
The East African Crude Oil Pipeline Company Limited has a shareholding of 62 percent from Total Energies while 15 percent will come from the host Government of Uganda through the National Oil Company.
Equally, the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania owns 15 percent shares through the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation – TPDC, and 8 percent shares for China National Offshore Oil Company – CNOOC Uganda Ltd.
Notably, on September 15, 2022, the European Parliament passed a controversial “emergency resolution” by a large majority denouncing the consequences of Uganda’s oil projects citing specifically Tilenga and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.
The resolution called for the immediate suspension of drilling activities in the protected and sensitive ecosystem (Murchison Falls National Park) and the postponement of the EACOP project for at least one year to allow a feasibility study of an alternative path to preserve the environment.
However, two months later on November 2, 2022, the “emergency resolution” was overturned during the Joint Parliamentary Assembly of the African, Caribbean, Pacific – European Union (ACP-EU) sitting in Maputo, Mozambique. The Assembly voted to let Uganda proceed with developing the Pipeline Project.
During our phone conversation, Jelous Mugisa Mulimba sounded disgruntled and exhausted but not ready to give up on fighting for adequate compensation.
“Let government take that cash compensation forever, I want a house not money!” he repeatedly emphasized as he hung up on phone.
Mulimba, 50, a family head of nine people is among seven people that are battling a court case for allegedly sabotaging a government project after they protested against inadequate compensation of their land.
His land is part of a 772-acre piece of land that was acquired by government in 2017 to host an Oil Central Processing Facility currently under construction in Kasinyi village, Ngwedo Sub County in Buliisa district.
“I opted for land compensation but to my surprise during disclosure to know the value of property affected by the project, I was told that I was to take cash compensation,” he said. “I dint understand why government was forcing me to take what I dint ask for. I and my wife insisted that we are not taking cash,” he added.
Mulimba said that he was then summoned to court in Masindi by the Attorney General.
The Attoney General wanted government to deposit their compensation money in court and allow the project to proceed.
“The members of our family accepted the compensation of the family land measuring 13 acres with each at 3.5 million shillings and disturbance allowance of 30 percent but for me I refused,” he explained.
According to Mugisha, on 30th April 2021, he and other respondents lost the case. He noted that with assistance of some NGO, they appealed but the case has never been heard.
“Since then, the case has not been heard. The NGO that took over our case tells us that they refused to fix the date for hearing. We are stuck but we have not given up,” noted Mulimba.
Mulimba said he is currently faced by threats and intimidation from government officials who think he is sabotaging government programs. However, Mulimba says he is not ready to give up on fighting for his rights.
“I want to leave a legacy for my children. They will live to know that I fought for their rights. I will not take that money. Let government take in if it wants,” he said.
At 63, Mrs. Teopista Nakamanyiro, a widow and a resident of Kiyuni village in Kyankwanzi district was sure that her 3 acres of coffee would sustain her livelihood in her old age.
She narrates that in a good harvesting season; she would earn a minimum of 3,000,000 Ugandan shillings throughout the season. But this retirement plan was cut short in February 2022 when the graders and excavators razed down her coffee plantation that has sustained her livelihood for years.
Nakamanyiro is among over 300 families whose gardens were destroyed following a forced eviction in Gayaza Sub County in Kyankwanzi district.
The affected residents are from Kyerere North, Kyerere East, Kiyuni central, Kiryajobyo west, and Kibanda villages. They are feuding with Linda Nyakairima, the widow of the late Internal Affairs Minister Gen.Aronda Nyakairima who is alleged to have fraudulently acquired a title for the land measuring about 5 square miles.
In July last year, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni promised to compensate Linda so that people will get back their land. The president’s message was delivered by the Minister of Land, Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Judith Nabakooba who visited the affected residents and also assured them of compensation of their destroyed crops.
However, the process of compensation seems to be slow yet the affected residents are in dire need of food.
“When we tried to follow up, the Minister told us that the president gave an order without readily available source of money for compensation. This left us in confusion. This means that the people will not get back to their land soon yet they have no food,” said Leosam Sebalunzi, the LCIII Chairperson for Gayaza Sub County.
Dr. John Mpuuga, the Kyankwanzi LCV chairperson said, “Minister Nabakooba delivered President’s message on compensation without verifying the source of money. She raised the false hopes of the affected residents who are currently languishing in starvation and lack of livelihood.”
Dr. Mpuuga said the government should expedite the process of compensation so that people go back to their land.
In December 2022, during her visit to Kiboga, Nabakooba noted that the issue of compensation is being handled by the president’s office and will soon be sorted.
Affected residents at the verge of starvation
The graders and excavators destroyed the crops including banana plantations, beans, maize, mangoes, cassava, coffee, jackfruit and rice planted by the residents.
“From the time our crops were destroyed, I am struggling to feed my children. Though the gardens were destroyed, the houses were left untouched. So our houses are surrounded by crops of people hired to till the land. And this is tempting. You cannot stop a hungry child from stealing maize planted in your compound. This leaves me in fear of being arrested,” said thoughtful Nakamanyiro.
Gayaza LC111 chairperson, Leosam Ssebalunzi said the residents are struggling to survive without food. He notes that they were denied access to their gardens by the soldiers who were deployed on the disputed land and outsiders who were hired to till the land.
He called upon the government to supply them with food and other basic necessities as they wait for the compensation.
Kiboga West member of Parliament, Abdul Mutumba Ssettuba has appreciated and recognized the contribution made by Community Green Radio towards the recently held health Camp in Kiboga Town. The MP, together with other stakeholders organized a health camp on 17 and 18 December 2022 in Kiboga town and the radio played a central role in mobilizing masses for the camp. Various ailments were diagnosed and treated.
In recognition of the radio’s role, the MP has today delivered a certificate of appreciation to the radio. The certificate was handed over to the Station Manager, Julius Kyamanywa by Kiboga Town Council Chairperson Henry Kagali.
While handing over the certificate, Mr. Kagali, who chaired the organized committee of the camp, thanked the radio for serving the communities.
“Honorable Mutumba and I are very pleased with the contribution you made and it’s the reason the camp was a success. Your resolve to serve communities is highly commendable”, Kagali said while at the radio premises in Kiboga.
The station Manager, Kyamanywa Julius appreciated the MP and the organizing committee for recognizing the work of the radio. He pledged continued support to similar causes that are aimed at empowering communities, especially the vulnerable women, children and the poor.
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.