EUROPEAN UNION APPLAUDS NAPE FOR COMBATING GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE, IMPROVING LIVELIHOODS AND BOOSTING FOOD SECURITY IN BUNYORO REGION

By Precious Naturinda

European Union has applauded National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) for its efforts in combating Gender-Based Violence, improving household income and boosting food security for communities affected by COVID-19 economic shocks and oil and gas extractives in Bunyoro region.

From 2021, NAPE has been implementing a European Funded project “Deepening grassroots women’s rights, participation and economic livelihood opportunities in the era of expanding of oil and gas extraction and COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda” in Hoima, Kikuube and Buliisa districts. Under the project NAPE has supported communities in a number of initiatives including establishment of safe spaces to handle cases of gender based violence, provision of farm tools and establishment of gardens to improve food security and income generating initiatives.

During a three days monitoring visit held from 19th to 21st September 2023, Thomas Kamusiime from European Union said he was impressed by the food gardens established, household income generating initiatives for community households such as honey selling, hand craft making, millet packing and the good work done by established safe spaces to combat gender based violence and promote stable families. 

Figure 1: Mr. Kamusiime Thomas(in checked blue shirt) in a mother garden for communities in Kigaaga

Mr. Kamusiime visited Community Green Radio Offices in Kiboga district that amplifies community voices in Kiboga district, and communities of Kaiso, Kabale and Kigaaga in Hoima, Butimba and Kyakatemba in Kikuube district and Kakindo in Buliisa district.

He said that it was a smart idea that NAPE coined the project and implemented it around existing community structures in addition to establishing new ones such as safe and operational spaces that handle issues of GBV.  He also applauded the radio for amplifying the voices of local communities and pledged continued partnership.

“I am thrilled to learn from safe space care takers that the work of the safe space in handling GBV, community counseling, conflict identification and mediation both on GBV and land related wrangles is done with close coordination with the Local council system, the family protection units of the Uganda Police and community models of good standing in the community,” said Mr. Kamusiime.

Mr. Kamusiime asked communities to use the good work achieved by the project to take advantage of the good road and other infrastructure being put in place by the oil and other sectors to boost their incomes through product selling, accessing markets and improving on value addition to attract market.

Figure 2; Kaiso Women’s Group Chairperson Sylvia Kemigisa explaining to Mr. Thomas Kamusiime from EU and Rajab Bwengye from NAPE about the kitchen gardens in Kaiso fishing village

The Communities said the farm tools like the hoes and wheel barrows have been instrumental in enabling them grow food and carry manure to the gardens. They also noted that the space spaces have helped in conflict resolution both in families and communities.

 “Gender Based Violence and food insecurity are major challenges at Kaiso fishing village. We largely depend on the Lake and markets for food.  But NAPE has supported us to have kitchen gardens which are helping us to improve food security. Besides, over 80 cases have so far been handled at our safe space but the numbers are overwhelming. We would requesting NAPE to support establish more safe spaces and more support as our members have been increasing also need support,” said Kemigisa Slyvia from Kaiso Women’s group, one of the communities’ supported.

Mr. Bwengye Rajab, the Project Coordinator applauded European Union for the support and called for more support. He said the safe spaces are receiving overwhelming numbers of people who need their issues resolved adding that there is need to establish more safe spaces.

According to Bwengye, the most recent spot talley of cases recorded by caretakers at all the 20 established safe spaces in all the 3 operational districts were 1,186 out of which 953 were resolved at safe space sites.  He notes that others have been refered to police for further management contributing to a success rate of 80%.

He also noted that the 30 targeted groups have registered increased number of members who need more support with farm tools.

ENDS//

Uganda National Meteorological Authority partners with Kiboga district to give weather updates to farmers

Precious Naturinda and Edison Ndyasiima

Peter Makubuye, a small holder farmer from Kakoora village in Kibiga sub county Kiboga district has had rough time dealing with unpredictable weather conditions. According to Makubuye, his main source of livelihood is growing maize, beans, coffee and banana plantations.

However, he says the erratic rainfall and extended dry spell has over time left him in losses. He says weather conditions have increasingly become unpredictable as opposed to olden days when they would use indigenous knowledge to predict.

“Whenever I would experience much heat, I would tell that the rains are around the corner and start preparing the gardens but this is no longer the case. These days we are taken by surprise. The rains come and disappear at a time you least expect. I put in a lot of money and get low yields,” said Makubuye.

It is against this background that Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) has partnered with Kiboga district local government to ensure that farmers get updated weather forecasts to help farmers plan accordingly.

The Authority started with training at the beginning of this month (September) of district technical officers from climate sensitive sectors – agriculture and water departments- and farmer group leaders on climate resilient measures.

Abubaker Kalema, a Senior Meteorologist at UNMA says the authority will be sharing early warning weather information with the farmers using mainstream media and WhatsApp groups.

He says Kiboga district, whose population predominantly relies on rain-fed agriculture, has been affected by unpredictable weather. He, however, notes that farmers have been lacking timely and accurate weather information. He says weather information sharing is key to build climate resilience at local level.

Makubuye, who was one of the beneficiaries of the training, says there has been a big gap in sharing information directly to farmers who are affected by the weather patterns from the UNMA. He says the partnership will make weather information dissemination to farmers easy.

According to information from Kiboga district agriculture department, the district experiences challenging unpredictable weather conditions of erratic rainfall and extended dry spell during the March-June planting season.

This has resulted into poor crop yields for annual crops such as maize and beans, horticultural crops like tomatoes, cabbages and also inadequate pasture and water production. The district authorities fear that this may lead to low future supply of agricultural commodities, moderate food availability supply and high prices.

Extreme weather conditions are increasingly frequent and severe across African region including Uganda.

According to Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN 2021), Uganda is ranked 10th most vulnerable country to the impacts of climate change and the 35th least readying in teams of preparedness for the climate change effects.

ROTARY CLUB RECOGNISES COMMUNITY GREEN RADIO’S MOBILISATION EFFORTS TOWARDS THE CANCER RUN 2023

Community Green Radio has been recognized for its contribution towards Rotary Cancer Run 2023 in Kiboga and the surrounding districts that saw Rotary Club of Kiboga raise 7.8 million shillings. The money will be used to facilitated the construction of a cancer clinic at Nsambya Hospital.

The radio Radio supported the club by arising awareness about the event which was held on 27th August through radio talk shows and adverts.

Rotary club of Kiboga awarded the radio with a certificate of appreciation. The certificate was handed over to the radio staff by Kiboga Rotary President, Ms. Doreen Mukisa at a function that was held at Kiboga Town Council Playground.

COMMUNITY GREEN RADIO CELEBRATES BELATED WORLD ENVIRONMENTAL DAY WITH A COMMUNITY CLEANING EXERCISE

Community Green Radio organized a cleanup exercise in Kibiga town in its host district- Kiboga to create public awareness on proper disposal of wastes in commemoration of belated World Environmental Day celebrated on 5th June each year.

The event was led by the radio staff and joined by local leaders and the radio listeners on 27th August.

It involved waste collection, sorting and sensitizing the members of the community on the dangers of poor waste disposal. The day was crowned with a friendly football match between the radio staff and the listeners which saw the radio winning 1-0.

The radio listeners appreciated the role the radio has played in raising awareness on environmental conservation.

The female district councilor for Kiboga town council, Ms. Sarah Nakitende said the radio’s education programs have supported the leaders’ efforts in raising awareness on environmental conservation.

Julius Kyamanywa, the station manager said plastics have become part of our daily lives due to their convenience but have been disposed carelessly leading to massive pollution. He explained that the drainage channels and soils are choking on plastics leading to floods, soil infertility and blockage of drainage channels.

He said the solution to reversing pollution starts with living as responsible citizens urging the public to desist from the behavior of indiscipline littering.

This year’s theme for World Environmental Day was Beat Plastic pollution.  In Uganda, the celebrations ran under the theme, “Stop Plastic Pollution today.”

According to the National Environmental Management Authority, Uganda has produced over 12,330 metric tons of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) plastics since 2018. Of this, 42%is uncollected, 15% collected through value chain approach and 43% collected by the service providers.  About 21,728 tons of plastic is burned, 47,457 tons is landfilled or dumped, 160 tons retained and 13,580tons finds its way into water systems.

NEMA also affirms that as a result of plastic pollution, the country has seen increased unexplained cancers, floods, poor air quality, decreased soil fertility, siltation of water bodies, death of livestock, fish and wildlife through ingestion and entanglement and enhanced greenhouse gas emissions.

GOVERNMENT OF UGANDA SUPPORTS FARMERS IN KIBOGA DISTRICT WITH TRACTORS

Government through the office of the Prime Minister has donated 4 tractors to farmers in Kiboga to engage and improve on agricultural production.

Three tilling and one drilling tractors were given to individual and groups at an agricultural exhibition that was held in Kiboga town council on 20th August.

While handing over the equipment, Ugandan Prime Minister Robina Nabbanja urged the beneficiaries to utilize the equipment communally to boost agriculture production and productivity.

She also urged the farmers to use the Parish Development Model(PDM) funds as startup capital for agri-businesses. He urged technical staff at the District to ensure that they follow up farmers to give them technical advice.

Abdul Mutumba, the Kiboga West Member of Parliament urged schools to have school gardens to enable learners get skills at schools.

The exhibition was aimed at mobilizing and educating farmers on value addition.

Among the exhibitors was Fridays for Future Uganda which is working with National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) under gender and climate coalition to empower young women through organic kitchen gardens, value addition and trainings.

The coalition under the PISCCA project is being supported by the French Embassy.

The exhibition was broadcast live on Community Green Radio to give a voice to other farmers who were not able to make it to the function.

CASH IS OVER BUT NO DEVELOPMENT; PIPELINE AFFECTED PERSONS HAVE NOWHERE TO GO ONCE PIPELINE WORK STARTS IN KYANKWANZI AND KIBOGA

People affected by Hoima-Kampala Petroleum products pipeline in Kiboga and Kyankwanzi districts in central Uganda are pondering the next move once the pipeline works begin after misusing their compensation money.

The Hoima-Kampala Petroleum products pipeline will stretch for 211km from Hoima in Western Uganda to Buloba along Kampala-Mityana road in Wakiso district in central Uganda. The Resettlement Action Plan was handed over to Strategic Friends International.

The residents poke holes in the unsatisfactory land acquisition and compensation process which they say has been characterized by inadequate and delayed compensation, lack of financial literacy programs and lack of guidance on property for property compensation.

Leo Ssebuwufu, one of the affected people from Lwanda village in Kiboga district says due to anxiety for cash coupled with delayed and inadequate compensation, many affected people got loans and by the time the money came, it was unable to replace what had been lost to the pipeline.

“I have no tangible development from my cash compensation. It came at a time I was overwhelmed by loans and it ended up paying the loan,” says Ssebuwufu.

Asuman Ssembatya, the Nabidondolo parish chairperson says the sensitization meetings have concentrated in Hoima, Kikuube and Buliisa districts which are hubs of oil activities leaving other districts where the pipelines are passing abandoned.

Ssembatya says the few sensitization meetings have only targeted local leaders leaving people directly affected by pipeline ignorant of how to live a better life after displacement. He notes that as a result, the cash compensation is finished and no livelihood improvement.

“People were not given clear guidance for cash and property compensation. People whose houses were affected have failed to construct new houses because their compensation money was not enough and others misused the money. I wish we know there was an option of property compensation, we would have guided them,” said Ssembatya.

Ssembatya said people whose houses were affected and given cash compensation have instead renovated their houses with the hope of getting more compensation from government.

George Matwa, 58, another affected resident from Luanda village says he received his compensation this year in June after more than four years of waiting.

“During the disclosure of my cash compensation, the oil companies only gave me a total figure of my coffee, fruit trees, banana plantation and house that were affected by the pipeline. I don’t know how each was valued and I feel I got little money,” Said Mr. Matwa.

He adds that, “I feel too weak to start the process of constructing a new house, if I knew of house-to-house compensation, I would have opted for that”.

During the community engagement meeting that was organized by the National Association of Professional Environmentalists, NAPE on 1st August this year at Atkon hotel Kiboga, the affected people of Kiboga and Kyankwanzi identified information gap on the whole oil compensation activities as one of the challenges.

They said they have no clear grievance handling channels and the leaders who would be helping address their issues are also ignorant about what takes place.

The meeting that comprised of participants from Hoima, Kikuube, Kyankwanzi and Kiboga districts.

For Hoima and Kikuube, the affected residents said the process of compensation and land acquisition was fair and people have received better houses from government as compensation.

Allan Kalangi, the Sustainability Manager at NAPE said there is need to sensitize affected people especially those in Kiboga and Kyankwanzi on the progress of the pipeline project. He said NAPE will continue organizing sensitization meetings and also through Community Green Radio.

Mr. Kosea Wambaka, the Head of Party and Programmes at Strategic Friends International recently told New Vision newspaper recently that the pipeline will pass through 21 sub counties and will impact 4, 276 individuals. He said 84% of the people have already received their cash compensations in Kikuube, Kyankwanzi, Kiboga and Mityana districts.

Court of Appeal starts hearing of the case against Hoima Sugar Limited

The Court of Appeal in Kampala has started hearing of the case that National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) and Water and Environment Media Network (WEMNET) filed for cancellation of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) certificate of approval issued to Hoima Sugar Ltd (HSL).

AFIEGO, NAPE and WEMENT are some of the members of the Save Bugoma Forest Campaign (SBFC). The appeal, which was filed in May 2021, is against Hoima Sugar Limited and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). Despite protests from Bugoma forest host communities, Kikuube district local government, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and civil society members, NEMA issued Hoima Sugar Limited with with an ESIA certificate of approval for the company’s Kyangwali Mixed Land Use Project in August 2020. The certificate allowed HSL to grow sugarcane, set up an urban centre and engage in other degrading activities in Bugoma central forest reserve.

Open the link to read the full statement of the Save Bugoma Forest Campaign. https://www.greenradio.ug/download/press-statement-on-hearing-of-bugoma-forest-case-appeal/

CSOs PETITION NCBA BANK OVER HOIMA SUGAR LIMITED ABUSES

Two environmental and human rights organisations in Uganda have petitioned NCBA Bank to stop financing Hoima Sugar Limited which they claim carries out its activities in a manner that contravenes environmental laws and disregards the rights of the host communities.

The two organisations, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE)-Friends of the Earth Uganda-and Strategic Response on Environmental Conservation (STREC) presented a petition to NCBA Bank Uganda Limited on 3rd July 2023 signed by 1,678 people directly impacted by Hoima Sugar Limited in the Bugoma Forest area.

In the petition addressed to Mr. Mark Mayobo, the Managing Director of NCBA Bank Uganda Limited, the CSOs and host communities accuse Hoima Sugar Limited’s Kyangwali Mixed Land Use Project of severely threatening the wellbeing and livelihoods of local people in the area.

“The project, which includes a sugarcane plantation along with other infrastructure developments has severely threated the well-being and livelihoods of local communities. The project has also resulted in the deforestation of natural, reserved forest and has violated several Ugandan laws,” the petition to NCBA Bank reads in part.

The petition follows a post by NCBA Bank on Twitter to the effect that it was providing asset financing to Hoima sugar limited enabling it to acquire transport vehicles and graders some of which have been used in degrading Bugoma Forest.

“The Bank’s support of Hoima Sugar links NCBA Bank to the various environmental, social and governance related issues associated with Hoima Sugar’s activities in Bugoma. This asset financing contradicts NCBA Group’s own commitment to “sustainable investment and community growth” the letter signed by Mr. Frank Muramuzi on behalf of NAPE and Cirrus Kabaale on behalf of STREC reads.

The petition was duly received by NCBA and the office of the Chief Executive Officer made a response.

“As part of our commitment to sustainable investment and community growth, we take the issues of environment, sustainability and governance seriously.

We are in conversation with our client, Hoima Sugar Limited and will respond conclusively to your concerns raised,” the response letter signed by NCBA Chief Executive Officer, Mark Muyobo, reads in part. Click on download below for the full petition.

NCBA BANK PETITION ON BUGOMA

Understanding the paradox of idle land and large based agricultural investments in Uganda

In his draft paper, Chinese Agricultural Investments in Uganda and the Paradox of “Idle Land”, Banjwa Adventino, a Ph. D. fellow at Makerere University thinks through the paradox of idle land in contemporary debates on land in Uganda and Africa at large.

The paper points out that the idea that Africa is a home to unrivaled idle land but highly productive continues to inspire numerous.

Banjwa argues that the discursive rendering of land idle when everyone knows that people always lived on and used the land before but were forcefully evicted is the epistemological contest concerning what constitutes productive use of land and land use in general. He says on one hand, there is neoliberal state allied with private agricultural capital and on other hand; there are communities in society that become the demands of agricultural capital.

Banjwa’s paper, which is based on two Chinese agricultural investment sites in Uganda: Hanhe Farm and Kehonga China Uganda Agricultural Industrial Park, was at the centre of discussion in Intellectual Study Group Discussion on large based agricultural investments and the paradox of idle land.

The Intellectual study group was organized by National Association of Professional Environmentalists in partnership with Rosa Luxemburg Foundation East Africa and attended by scholars, members of civil society, journalists and community members and was held on June 24th at Nican Hotel in Kampala.

Banjwa argues that however much government and investors make claim that the land is idle, the claims have been refuted by people whose dwelling were dismantled to pave way for the agricultural projects.

In his paper for instance, Hanhe Farm which is located on 162 hectares of land in Nakaseke district was public land before.

“ …all this land was accessible to communities for grazing, fishing, harvesting of reeds for making mats and roofing houses and harvesting clay soil for brick making… One can look at this land as an epicenter of which people’s lives in this community rotated: they could not only count on the proteins obtained from the different forms in the swamp, their animals also depended on this land for grass and water. In short, the entire art of their dwelling was weaved on this basis of land: from obtaining materials and tools to construct their homes, to burying their dead, and to obtaining food for themselves and their animals”, according to an extract from the paper.

Banjwa states that the communities’ understanding of what constitutes productive land cannot be defined outside the broader web of their engagements on the land but the government and investors still defined it as idle land.

He concluded that contemporary ‘idlisation’ of  land is key to fueling the neoliberal character of current state in Uganda and suggests that the idea of displacement be expanded beyond the conception in terms of displacement of people from their land to encompass the displacement of people’s knowledge on what constitutes broadly productive land.

In his discussion on the paper, Prof. Samwiri Lwanga Lunyiigo said when investors come to Sub Saharan Africa; they see invisible Africans with visible land.

“When these investors come to the Sub Saharan Africa, What do they see? Invisible Africans! Why not seen? Because of the concept of development that has been engrained by our leadership. They look at capitalistic view of development. Our leaders have developed a concept that if we don’t develop, other people will develop us,” he said.

He said what is needed in Africa is pro-people government to take into considerations the pro-people development.

“Land to me is spiritual, cultural and ideological. People are actually using the land for fishing, growing food, grazing their animals but the capitalistic view of development is blind of this. In Mubende, for example, Nyakahuma tree that is respected by a certain clan, it can be cut and converted into timber but its spiritual importance cannot be marketed,” he explained.

He said Africans have not come up with what kind of development they need, whose development or whom the development is trying to help. He said food is critical and natives produce food from the said wastelands, empty or idle land.

Sam Kasirye, the ROSA representative in Uganda appreciated Banjwa for the paper. He said such discussions need to be trickled down to local communities to help them appreciate their mode of development before their intellectual disarming, use of coercive forces and militarization of land by investors and government.

Allan Kalangi from NAPE appreciated the discussants and pledged NAPE’s commitment in ensuring that the discussions continue.

Accept Compensation or Lose Your Land’ Government of Uganda tells Tilenga PAPs

The government of Uganda has issued a one-month ultimatum to Project Affected Persons-PAPs under the Tilenga project to receive compensation or forcefully lose their land.

Up to 623 people in Kasenyi village in Buliisa District in western Ugandawere affected when government acquired 320 hectares of land in Kasenyi village in Ngwedu sub-county in Buliisa to pave way for the construction of the Tilenga central processing facility-CPF.  The facility will be used to process crude oil produced from Buliisa and Nwoya districts to extract water, gas and other impurities, before being piped to the refinery in Kabaale, Hoima District.

In addition to the CPF that will process 190,000 barrels of oil and 700,000 barrels of total liquid per day, the Tilenga project needs land for 426 well pads; 160 kilometers of flow lines which will transport crude oil and water from the wells to the CPF among others.

However, some of the PAPs have up to date rejected compensation from the government, protesting what they see as low compensation rates for their land and other properties.

Some of the PAPs have been compelled to drag the government to court of law.   The PAPs also resisted government attempts to settle them in areas with worse or no social services.

Some of the PAPs were offered between 3.5 and 5 million Ugandan Shillings per acre of land in 2017 while others demanded between 10 to 20 million Ugandan Shillings per acre of land. 

Ruth Nankabirwa, the Minister for Energy and Mineral Development issued the one-month ultimatum on Monday, June 12, while officiating at the handover ceremony of 105 houses constructed for some of the PAPs at Kirama village in Kigwera Sub County, Buliisa District.

The minister warned that government has no other option but to forcefully take over the land should the PAPs reject the compensation money.

According to Nankabirwa, the government will not tolerate any delays in the progress of the oil and gas sector beyond July 31, cautioning all PAPs who have rejected compensation money due to various factors to cooperate with the government and accept to be compensated as per the compensation rate adopted by the chief government valuer.

She says beyond July 31, the government will forcefully access and establish oil-related projects on all the pieces of land acquired for oil developments in Buliisa and the entire Bunyoro sub-region. She says government will deposit the money for the PAPs who have rejected the compensation with courts of law and take over the land forcefully.

Nankabirwa said the PAPs can drag the government to court but it will not allow any frustration in the oil and gas developments.

She said that for the case of Tilenga, the government has failed to trace six project-affected persons while 27 other PAPs are embroiled in family wrangles on who exactly should get the compensation money.

Story by Uganda Radio Network