In studio of Community Green radio Kiboga sits three women from Lwamata Sub County in Kiboga District. They are members of Lwamata Community Green Radio listeners’ club. They are all smiles as they describe how they slowly formed a listeners club.
“The idea of forming a listeners club arose out of the various educative topics that were being aired on Green radio especially of income generation and livelihood improvement”, narrated Ms.Jannat Kengonzi, the secretary for mobilization of the club.
Ms. Peace Kagogobe, a member of the club has high hopes that the club will transform their lives. “We are certain that we are not going to remain the same. The few exchange visits we have had to Kikuube (Butimba Listeners’ club) and Kihagya in Hoima have already opened our eyes”, explained.
Ms. Ramulah Namiranda said it was a dream come true to appear on radio. She said the radio has brought her to working with other community members on projects that benefit her as a person, her family and the community in general.
“I was introduced to this kind of radio by Ms.Kengonzi. I have never turned since then and I’m eying big things with this kind of interaction”, explained Ms. Namiranda.
The members made the revelation during an air show on “Akatuuti” program on Community Green radio. “Akatuuti” program is a topical daily show that runs every evening for an hour and discusses various topics in spheres of social, political and economic aspects of society. The members had appeared on the radio to share on their experience with working with the radio especially through listeners’ clubs.
Lwamata Listeners’ club is one of the newly formed clubs in Kyankwanzi and Kiboga districts. The radio now has over fifteen clubs in Hoima, Kikuube, Buliisa, Kyankwanzi and Kiboga Districts. Listners’ clubs are listeners’ groups through which listenrs participate in daily radio programming by raising issues that affect their communities, share experience and listen to the radio together.
Listeners of Community Green radio through their listeners clubs have been argued to embrace environmental conservation and the need to preserve indigenous food species. The call was made by the chairperson of Butimba Sustainability Conservation Association, BUSUCA Reverend Fred Musiimenta during a learning tour by members of radio listeners’ clubs from Kiboga and Kyankwanzi organized by National Association of Professional Environmentalists in September this year.
“Many people consider planting Eucalyptus trees as conserving the environment yet they are equally dangerous since they cannot encourage agro forestry. Therefore it should start with us, let’s promote planting of indigenous trees and seeds for continuity and sustainable food supply,” he said.
The members from Kiboga and Kyankwanzi had gone to visit projects undertaken by BUSUCA with a view of replicating them in their communities. BUSUCA has projects in apiary, tree nursery beds and the indigenous seed bank.
Asuman Ssembatya of Nabidondolo listeners’ club in Kyankwanzi believes the lessons picked for Butimba are easy to replicate.
“We shall now focus on implementation. Our tour of this place has been of immense value and we are now going to act. The radio is now starting to be of great value than before”, narrated Mr. Ssembatya.
Ms. Janat Kengonzi of Lwamata Listeners’ club in Kiboga says the tour has inspired her to empower more women to engage in conservation and farming.
“I have seen women do it in Butimba, why not us?, I am going to work with my fellow women to ensure that we do what these people are doing”, she explained .
Community Green Radio works with listeners through the radio listeners clubs to work on different projects of their choice and interest through to cause positive change. The radio offers a platform for rural communities to share experiences and knowledge on how to run sustainable projects that promote environmental conservations.
New members of Community Green Radio listener clubs in Kyankwanzi and kiboga Districts have been enticed to engage in activities that promote environmental conservation and improved livelihoods.
During a meeting between Community Green Radio staff and Listeners from Lwamata, and Nabidondolo villages, the listeners said they are motivated to do more to conserve the environment and change their lives economically.
“Most of us were not aware of the values of conserving the environment and now the radio is opening our eyes to some of these things”, explained Joseph Kisuule a member of Lwamata listeners’ club.
Ms. Janat Kengonzi, the mobilize of Lwamata Listeners’ club says that apart from raising indigenous plant and tree seedlings, as a club they have also established a poultry project that has 15 active members.
“We are more than 15 members and every member has to bring a local breed of chicken to be considered active”, she explained to a Community Green radio reporter.
Asuman Ssembatya from Nabidondolo listeners’ club says the radio has mobilized communities towards working together. He believes working as group will quickly transform communities.
National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) through the various Community Green Radio programs encourages communities to engage in schemes that aid Environmental Conservation and activities that improve their household income and conserve the environment.
Richard Mugisha, the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, OSIEA Country Director for Uganda has applauded the National Association of Professional Environmentalists, NAPE for the efforts exhibited towards empowering communities to conserve the Environment and ensure food security.
“I thank NAPE for empowering the communities in promoting food security through planting indigenous food crops and undertaking activities that help conserve the surrounding”, said Mugisha.
Mr. Mugisha made the remarks during the official opening of Butimba sustainability Conservation Association, BUSUCA’s offices earl August this year. The offices are in Butimba village, Kidoma parish in Kiziranfumbi sub-county Kikuube district.
Mugisha explained that the idea of engaging communities in cultivation of indigenous species of cassava, beans and maize, that are resistant to harsh climatic conditions, is the best for conservation purposes as well as storage to curb food crises.
At the launch of the offices, other sustainability School Village members who were present included Kabaale “Tugare E’byobuhangwa” Women’s group and Kigaaga Oil Region Women’s Drama Association (KORICWODA).
The communities have been facing significant negative impacts of oil and other related activities on food because of oil discovery in the region. There has been increased demand for food more than what the ecosystem can support yet the region has seen a large influx of many land grabbers.
Rev.Fredrick Musimenta, the Chairperson for BUSUCA explained that farming activities carried out by the association like Apiary, crop cultivation and forestry have not only helped in promoting food security and Environmental conservation but also improving household income.
“Apart from seed multiplication gardens we established as a group to aid indigenous types of plants, we also have natural tree nursery bed seedlings that can be planted to mark boundaries” explained Rev. Musimenta.
Meanwhile, Ms. Annet Kasoro the chairperson Kabaale “Tugare E’byobuhangwa” Women Association, a group that promotes indigenous seed restoration, revealed that the association is focused on reviving traditional millet, sesame, beans and maize and ensuring that every member has a granary.
“We predict the weather to ascertain whether or not it favors farming before we plant and after harvest, we preserve the seeds with ash and red pepper to keep them free from weevils then store them in the granary season to avoid hunger”, Ms. Kasoro explained.
Frank Muramuzi, the Executive Director of NAPE thanked the communities for being adherent to matters concerning the Environment and cultivate food for home consumption and called on them to use the radio for further conservation.
“I encourage you to continue using Community Green Radio-Kiboga to air out the issues affecting your community and continue practicing bee keeping, tree planting cultivating indigenous food species that aid conservation” said Mr. Muramuzi.
NAPE’s Sustainability School Program Manager Allan Kalangi explained the need for the communities to engage in sustainable activities that improve their livelihood, household income and practice what they are empowered to do through borrowing ideas shared during exchange visits.
In Mid-June this year, Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) organised public hearings in Kikuube and Hoima districts to get the public views about Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for Kingfisher oil field in Kikuube district.
The ESIA report that was submitted by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Uganda Ltd to National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) was seeking approval to kick start commercial oil developments in the area.
CNOOC Uganda which was licensed to operate Kingfisher oil field contracted Golder Associates and Eco to conduct ESIA on the development of the oil field.
The public hearings were overwhelmed by public concerns of environmental degradation and threatened community livelihoods by displacements, lack of jobs and failure to get market for locally produced goods.
Locals and leaders asked government and oil companies to improve community livelihoods, enhance environmental protection and community benefits from oil projects.
Kadri Kirungi, the Hoima district Chairperson said that those affected by oil projects are miserable due to lack of financial literacy skills to improve their livelihoods.
“People who were displaced in the land earmarked for the oil refinery received a lot of money for compensation but today they are the poorest in the district,” Mr. Kirungi said.
The district chairperson also asked government and oil companies to give primary consideration for jobs and business to communities hosting oil developments so that they benefit.
“Poverty has hit us despite having these projects. Please change and give us economic benefits,” he said.
Buhaguzi county Member of Parliament, Daniel Muhairwe noted that speculators are grabbing land, which has pushed residents to the wetlands and forests for survival. He asked government to give land titles to customary land owners who are being displaced by speculators who he said are obtaining titles fraudulently.
“If a person’s land is grabbed, he will not fail to encroach on a wetland or forest for survival,” he lamented.
Betty Bagadila, a resident of Kaiso-Tonya in Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district said the report did not address challenges of women such as long distances to fetch water and firewood.
“Natural forest cover is being degraded by the oil developments and even some water sources have been affected. This has a great bearing on women who are responsible for collecting firewood and water. They are already walking long distances for the same. So, how shall we as rural women benefit from the project yet you are not addressing our challenges,” Ms. Bagadila asked.
Others expressed concern that CNOOC Uganda did not outline how it planned to avoid or mitigate the effects of oil spill on Lake Albert, its catchment and other ecosystems.
The Retired Bishop of Bunyoro Kitara Diocese, Reverand Nathan Kyamanya noted, “I expected risk management for unplanned events to be included in this report because it concerns my life. They are telling us that they have it in mind but we want it here because we want to know.”
NEMA Deputy Executive Director, Christine Akello agreed that the oil spill threats are real but she observed that they could be avoided with proper plans.
The Kingfisher ESIA report states that during the development of project, there is a risk of water, soil and air pollution, degradation of vegetation, displacement of people and disturbance of previously unidentified cultural sites.
Members of Community Green Radio listener’s clubs in Bunyoro oil-rich districts have been urged to lead by example in raising their voices against human rights violations by government and oil-companies as they intensify oil developments in the region.
During their visit to learn how sustainability school and radio listeners clubs work in promoting the rights of communities in Bunyoro region, Malcom Mpamizo from Civic Source Africa and the Greg Regagnon from Wellspring, who are also friends to National Association of Professional Environmentalists, said communities have a right to prior and fair compensation, prior informed consent and right to a clean and health environment.
During their visit to Kigaaga listeners’ club in Buseruka Sub County Hoima district and Butimba sustainability school in Kikuube district, Greg said the members need to work as a team and stay strong in engaging and challenging government on human rights violations.
“These oil companies do not have the right to profit from communities’ human rights violations. You have a right to say no and you should not bow to poor compensation,” Greg noted
His comments followed concerns that were raised by members of poor and delayed compensation to residents affected by pipeline and road projects in the districts.
“We have challenges as a result of oil developments but as empowered members of community, we are mobilizing others to ensure that these issues are solved. We have already prepared our petition on poor compensation on road project and it awaiting hand over to our member of parliament,” Rev. Fred Musimenta, a chairperson of Butimba sustainability Conservation Association noted.
Musimenta said NAPE has greatly empowered them to stand up and fight against injustices, resist land grabbers and lead the environmental protection campaign and restoring indigenous seeds.
“Before NAPE came, we could not stand up and oppose any government leader. But they have trained us to act; it has been so good to us. Now we are on the campaign against Bugoma forest giveaway to sugarcane growers, promoting indigenous seeds and fighting against human rights violations by oil companies,” he said.
Greg commended NAPE for supporting communities and urged it to continue advocating for the rights of communities.
Community Green Radio celebrated this year’s World Environmental day by taking part in a cleaning exercise in Kiboga.
The exercise saw public places such as markets, town council headquarters, Taxi Park and different streets in the town cleaned.
On the same day, over 100 trees were planted as one way of conserving the environment.
The trees were planted at the district playground, district and town council headquarters, and others were planted along Hoima Kampala high way for beatification and environment conservations purposes.
The world environment day commemorations attracted other players like Rotary club, World Vision plus schools.
Julius kyamanywa the station manager community green radio explained that NAPE being an environmental organization it can’t sit back and watch as the world is marking the environmental day.
He said taking part in the celebrations is part of Nape’s core mandate and responsibility.
“We are the environment and it’s our mandate to protect it.
Kiboga town council LC III Chairperson Hajji Suleiman Ssekiwunga thanked the organizations for the cleaning and tree planting exercises. He hailed Community Green Radio for the mobilization work that he said made the day a success.
“Community Green radio gave us a talk show and presenters kept mentioning this day. We are really blessed to have you”, Hajji Ssekiwunga explained.
He appealed for more organization operating in Kiboga district to come out and give support towards having the town clean.
Government Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Kiboga District Ruth Nankabirwa Sentamu has hailed Community Green radio for government programmes by providing free airtime to government officials.
“We used to pay money to appear on radio. I want to thank the ownership and management of this radio for inviting us to speak to citizens freely. We are now able to talk about development and security issues. We are now able to mobilize citizens for development”, said the minister.
Minister Nankabirwa made the remarks in June while appearing on the Community Green radio’s Akatuuti show during the time designated for the Resident District Commissioner, RDC (President’s representative in the district).
The minister pledged moral support to the radio in its endeavors to cause positive change in the area.
Community Green radio has, since its inception, been providing space for government officials to share with the listeners on the available government programs. It is through such engagements that the listeners find an opportunity to seek for accountability from public office bearers.
Government officials share vital information in regard to various programmes aimed to uplifting the social welfare of women, youth, elderly and the general public.
Already, the radio has hosted Gender and Social Development minister Janet Mukwaya and other government dignitaries.
Kigaaga sustainability school has stepped up efforts to plant indigenous trees to conserve the environment and ensure sustainable agriculture ahead of oil boom.
Joram Basiima, one of the Community Educators says Kigaaga village- which is adjacent to the future oil refinery and Hoima International airport in oil-rich Hoima district- has been massively affected by high rate of deforestation as a result of oil developments and influx of displaced people in area.
He says the school also known as Kigaaga Oil Refinery Women Development Association (KORECWODA) has partnered with SBC- a company that is constructing the airport ,to distribute indigenous tree seedlings to communities and also monitor and supervise those who receive the seedlings so that they can be planted.
“Because we are known for planting and nurturing tree seedlings of indigenous seeds, we were selected by SBC to be in charge of distributing indigenous tree seeds, supervising those who receive them,” he says.
He explains that over 2,000 indigenous trees have so far been planted and distributed.
“So far 1842Musizi and 910 Musisa trees seedlings have already been distributed to community members,” he adds
Basiima who is also the chairperson of Kigaaga Community Radio listeners club says they are reinforcing lessons from the radio to ensure natural resource management by increasing forest cover and sustainable agriculture by planting indigenous trees which encourage agro-forestry.
“Community Green radio has also contributed a lot in creating awareness about environmental issues which has prompted communities to practice activities like tree planting,” he says
Peninah Ruhindi, the chairperson of KORECWODA says they have also started a campaign to plant trees along river lines and protected water sources.
“We are encouraging more people to plant trees as we lead by example. We have planted along Kanywabarogo river line and also on two protected springs,” she explains.
With support from National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), community members are raising indigenous tree seedlings to conserve the environment.
For four years, Community Green Radio was operating through affiliation with Liberty FM in Hoima. It would broadcast from Thursday to Sunday from 1.00pm to 3.00pm. But this is history! For one year now, the radio is fully operational with its own home, frequency and studios.
At the frequency of 103.9 FM, the radio broadcasts live and clear, daily not only with radios but also online.
This has excited listeners club members who have seen it outgrow affiliation; and had for long demanded for a fully-fledged radio to be able to have enough time to advocate for environmental Conservation and human rights.
Karuhanga Moses, the chairperson of Butimba listeners club says he is happy that the radio broadcasts daily. He says the members now can go on radio anytime to discuss issues affecting their areas; not like those days where they were limited to specific time.
“We are happy that now the members can go on air anytime they wish not like those days when they would have to wait for time between 1.00-3.00 pm. Am happy with National Association of professional Environmentalists (NAPE) for adhering to our demand,” he noted
He adds that, “more voices of local communities will be amplified to actively participate in natural resources management, especially in Bunyoro region which is already fighting with challenges related to oil developments.”
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. We know our rights, we have engaged in planting trees to conserve the environment, and we have income generating activities, it’s good that Nyinabwenge program has been put at a time when many people are at home and are able to listen,” she says.
Last year, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) purchased Radio Kiboga FM which is being rebranded to Community Green Radio. This followed demand from listeners’ club members.
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 radio has been operating with listener’s clubs for they work as a link between community members and the radio.