As Uganda joined the global community in observing World Environment Day, the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) voiced concerns about the increasingly superficial nature of such celebrations and the inadequate enforcement of laws aimed at safeguarding the environment.
Frank Muramuzi, the Executive Director of NAPE, says that every year, authorities in Uganda responsible for environmental protection come together to celebrate these special occasions and deliver impressive speeches. However, he emphasizes that these events often lack any tangible impact on the ground.
Muramuzi also points out that despite the enactment of numerous laws aimed at protecting the environment, they remain ineffective in practice. Many individuals continue to engage in destructive activities with impunity, further exacerbating environmental degradation.
On June 5th, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) organized the national event for World Environment Day at Kololo ceremonial grounds. The event centered around the theme “Stop Plastic Pollution,” drawing attention to the urgent need to address the growing issue of plastic waste.
During previous discussions, Dr. Akankwasah Barirega, NEMA’s Executive Director, stated that the World Environment Day event served as a starting point for actively combating plastic pollution in Uganda. He mentioned NEMA’s proposal to restrict the importation of pallets used in the “virgin production” of plastics, aiming to promote recycling instead.
Practical solutions are already being discussed with major plastic manufacturers and importers. However, NAPE believes that focusing solely on plastic pollution neglects the broader range of environmental challenges facing Uganda. Muramuzi suggests that a comprehensive approach is necessary to address all environmental issues holistically, rather than solely emphasizing plastic pollution.
In their statement on World Environment Day, environmentalists also highlighted a series of recent incidents in Uganda directly linked to environmental degradation. These incidents include bridge collapses, mudslides and frequent flooding in various parts of the country.
NAPE expresses concern over the deterioration of wetlands and natural forests, as well as the issue of illegal sand mining and flower cultivation in the Lutembe Ramsar site. These activities seem to occur with the knowledge of those in authority or are ignored when they happen. Regarding plastics, they fault government of Uganda for impeding efforts to tackle the plastic challenge.
They specifically point out the frustration caused by the government’s failure to effectively regulate the use of plastic bags, locally known as “Kaveera,” and its continued issuance of permits to plastic manufacturers and importers.
NAPE demands that if government of Uganda is genuinely committed to addressing the issue, it should cease issuing licenses to such companies. They also call for the implementation of incentives to encourage plastic collection and recycling, among other proposed solutions.
Civic Society Organizations in Uganda, including the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) have resumed intellectual study groups attended by scholars, activists and professionals.
The first intellectual group engagement this year was organized at NICAN Hotel in Seguku –Kampala on 6th May 2023.
Allan Kalangi, the Sustainability School Manager at NAPE said the objective of the study group was to generate debate around Property compensation alternatives with a case study of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project, generate knowledge and information and also dialogue of the theory and how it is linked to practice.
He explained that it was a follow up of other series of study groups conducted by ROSA Luxemburg Foundation last year. He said the intellectual study group engagements are aimed at triggering thinking around critical issues through dialogues that gather thinkers from different fields and school of thoughts.
Samuel Kasirye from ROSA Luxemburg Foundation said the intellectual study groups started last year with the goal of creating new thinking around land governance.
Kalangi explained that EACOP compensation has been marred by delays and unfair compensation leaving the effected people frustrated.
“There have been challenges with compensation on customary land since land is communally owned by clans or tribes. There is a challenge of who to compensate under this tenure. Additionally, titled land is given a priority and because of this, people are now turning customary land into freehold to get land titles as a proof of ownership but the process of obtaining land titles is complex and expensive. In other areas, land is under Mailo; and is comprised of absent landlords, which has delayed compensation of the land users. Besides, the pipeline is passing through ecologically sensitive areas and has sparked massive destruction”, Kalangi noted
Joram Basiima, a community member from Kigaaga Village in Hoima district noted that the community is less involved in the compensation process.
“Compensation rates used in the process of compensation are outdated and people have not been involved in setting the compensation rates leading to unfair compensation. People have been frustrated by delayed compensation and I think this is a trick by oil companies to force people to receive little compensation,” said Joam.
During the discussion, Prof. Lwanga Lunyigo, wondered whether the affected people have the leaders.
“Where is the leadership in all this? Where are the members of parliament, the local governments who were elected to protect the rights of citizens? The question we should be answering is; what do you compensate and who are you compensating? People are lacking pro-people policies and people-centered solutions,” he said.
Suzan Nakacwa, another participant said compensation in Uganda should be defined in Ugandan context to be able to benefit communities.
“In Uganda, we have not contextualized our problem and uniqueness. Let’s go back to the drawing board and define compensation in a Ugandan context. Relocation and compensation requires like 15 years given to affected people for transition, if they want it fairly done. Let’s talk about transition of families, crops and everything. Let’s go to the communities and hear what the communities are saying and from there we go back to the drawing board”, she said.
The participants agreed to involve more affected people in the study groups.
The Executive Director, the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Frank Muramuzi has asked journalists to expose people who are encroaching on protected natural resources.
Speaking during a training of Albertine journalists that was held at Community Green Radio Offices in Kiboga on April 20th, Muramuzi said most journalists fear to expose wetland and forest encroachers.
“I heard that there are influential people in Kiboga, who are carrying out activities in wetlands. You need to investigate them, know how they got licenses and publish the stories. Even the encroachers of Bugoma forest! You need to continue writing about them,” he said.
Muramuzi said the developments taking place in Albertine region need objective and courageous reporters that are ready to take on encroachers without fear.
The meeting was aimed at training participants on reporting large scale investments with case study on East African Crude Oil Pipeline.
During the training, Adolf Mbaine, the Makerere university lecturer took the participants through reporting on East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
He said the processes and systems involved in producing and distributing oil and gas are highly complex, capital intensive and technological and makes it an underreported sector.
He, however, asked journalists to develop the passion and educate themselves on the industry so that they can report about it.
“Reporting on oil and gas needs a better understanding of characteristics and challenges to be able to know where to start from. Coming up with a strong story is sometimes costly as big money and influential investors who can use their positions and finance to influence. But such stories make us stand out as journalists,” said Mbaine.
Jacob Kitezi is one of the pipeline affected residents in Kyankwanzi district who has waited for his compensation cash to hit his bank accounts in vain.
Kitezi, a resident of Kigoma ward in Massode-Kalagi town council was affected by the Hoima-Kampala petroleum Products Pipeline that is proposed to transport refined oil products from the Uganda Oil Refinery in Hoima to a distribution terminal near Buloba in Wakiso district. The pipe passed through is coffee and banana plantation.
However, Kitezi says it’s now a year since he was promised his cash compensation. Away from the delayed compensation, he says his property was undervalued since he never participated in the valuation process.
He says the challenge is that he has failed to get the right channels to address his grievances since the area local leaders have no updates on when they are getting their compensation. He also noted that the community liaisons officers for oil companies are not known leaving with them a huge information gap.
“They only invited me to sign papers for my compensation but I dint participate in valuation of my affected property. The money given was little but it’s not also coming. Access to information has become a problem because I have no one to ask,” said Kitezi.
Rev. Fred Musimenta, a resident of Butimba Village in Kikuube district also expresses the same disappointments. He says addressing human rights concerns by the oil companies have become a problem as they are not clear on the way forward amidst the delayed compensation.
“When I rejected the poor compensation, they promised to get back to me and re-evaluate my property but I have been waiting for them in vain. Whoever I try to ask tells me that they are coming,” said Musimenta.
As of December 2022, 2,502(69%) EACOP PAPs were compensated out of 3,648 people in Uganda according to statics obtained from EACOP website.
Dickens Amanya, the Coordinatior for Bunyoro Albertine Petroleum Network on Environmental Conservation (BAPENECO) says people have the right to information and consultation and every district is supposed to have a grievance settlement committee aimed at addressing the concerns of the affected residents.
He said the people affected by the pipeline should follow up with their respective district in order to address the information gap. He was recently addressing people affected by the pipeline in a community engagement that was organized by National Association of Professional Environmentalists(NAPE).
Allan Kalangi, the Sustainability Officer at NAPE said NAPE will continue building the capacity of communities to be able to address their stakeholders on potential environmental and human rights concerns.
NAPE has made an analysis of the socio-economic and ecological values of Bugoma Forest in Buhanguzi County, Kikuube District .
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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.