The NAPE Community Green radio has received the 2020 Liz Hughes award for her Farm Radio at a function held at the radio premises in Kiboga. Green radio won the award after beating other 59 radio stations worldwide. The award was handed over by Mr. Ecaat Stephen the Country Representative Farm Radio International to the NAPE Executive Director Frank Muramuzi and the radio staff on March 8th.
While receiving the award, Mr. Muramuzi thanked Farm Radio International for recognizing the efforts of the radio in promoting women. He promised more empowerment to women.
“We are so delighted that finally our efforts in amplifying the voices of women have been rewarded. We shall continue to give wider space to women to air their views”, Mr. Muramuzi said.
In his remarks, Mr. Ecaat said the radio won the award because they devote enough time to women issues.
“What made you stand out was the huge amount of time you give to women to discuss their issues. You have also allowed women to speak for themselves on radio”, he said.
Israel Yiga, the Kiboga District chairperson praised the radio for giving ample time to programs that address women issues.
“I have been listening to this radio and following the time they accord to women issues, this award is not a surprise to me. I implore them to continue promoting women issues”, the chairperson explained.
The award giving ceremony coincided with the International women’s day. The function was attended by local leaders and the radio listeners predominantly women.
Community Green Radio is one of the major programs of National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE).The radio is an offshoot of the sustainability of the Sustainability School Program which works on empowering communities to identify their rights and entitlements and works towards attaining and defending them.
The radio is aimed at amplifying the voices of local communities in the eco-sensitive Bunyoro and Buganda Regions to effectively participate in natural resource management processes.
The Liz Hughes award was created by Farm Radio International to recognize radio programs that address the issue of gender equality and create opportunities to share the voices of rural women. Liz Hughes was a board member of Farm Radio International who was passionate about broadcasting and a champion of gender equality. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation broadcaster helped Farm Radio International to develop its FAIR journalistic standards, which emphasize Fairness and balance, Accuracy, Integrity, and Respect.
A 50 year old Ruth Kasimba lives in Butimba village in Kikuubedistrict; a few kilometers near where Uganda’s proposed oil refinery will be constructed in Kabale parish in Uganda’s oil-rich Hoima district.
Like any other rural woman, Kasimba collects firewood for cooking- the exercise she describes as physically exhausting but also mentally draining.
However, as a peasant farmer who grows different types of crops for food and sale, Kasimbacould not believe that the daily-throw away garbage like banana and cassava peelings could turn into fortune tosave women from the long distance walks to collect firewood.
In one of the Nyinabwenge radio talk shows at Community Green Radio, Kasimba learnt about how to covert peelings into charcoal briquettes.
“I learn on radio that after collecting the peelings, they are spread under the sun for some hours until they get dry. The dried peelings are then burnt slowly until they become ash,” she said.
“The ash is then mixed with soil and cassava porridge and then poured into a charcoal presser machine to come up with briquettes or one can use hands to make the briquette size of their choice,” she added.
Kasimba, who is a member of Butimba listeners club, sold the idea 15 other group members and now they are currently making briquettes for home use and are trying to expand the business for economic venture.
Kasimba is among many listeners who are trying to put into action what they listen on radio.
Away from making charcoal briquettes, Butimba listeners club is engaged in making indigenous tree nursery beds to conserve the environment.
Butimba listeners club is one of the pioneer clubs that started with Community Green Radio during its inception in 2014.The radio started with 11 listener’s clubs from Hoima, Kikube and Buliisa Oil-rich districts. Currently, more listeners clubs have been created in districts of Kyankwanzi and Buliisa.
The women-dominated listeners’ club members don’tonly listen. They put into action what they have learnt and also train other new listeners clubs about what they are doing.
PeninaRuhindi, a member of Kigaaga Community Radio listeners club in Kabale village in Homa district- which is adjacent to the oil refinery says they are putting into action the lessons from the radio to ensure sustainable agriculture by planting indigenous trees which encourage agro-forestry and also defend their rights as women.
“When we listen, we reflect on our community and identify the challenges talked about. We then try to find the solutions. Like now we are taking it upon ourselves as listeners club members to encourage women to gain confidence and speak up on issues affecting them and defend their rights. We encourage women to go on radio, as women we have started practicing boundary tree planting to defend our land from grabbers,” she said.
Norah Bahongye, a member of Kigaaga listener’s club says she is happy to listen to her favorite women’s program-Nyinabwenge in evening time when she has retired from her day’s duties on Saturday.
“This radio has changed the lives of many women. I did not know that me as Bahongye, a rural peasant farmer can be on the radio. I thank the radio management for aiming at amplifying women. I have indigenous knowledge on farming like best seed selection and pest control which I have shared on radio, and even people come looking for me to learn. I also know that as a woman I have a right to protect my crops from being sold by my husband from the garden. This has been common by the way because men knew we can’t defend ourselves. But listening to my voice on radio itself makes him think am empowered and I can do anything to protect myself,” She said.
Since the discovery of commercially viable oil deposits in Albertine Graben in Uganda in 2006, the high demand for land to pave way for oil exploitation as well as speculative investment has heavily impacted on host communities in theregion. The host communities are faced with evictions and displacements to pave way for oil developments. However, for the vulnerable groups such as women and children who largely depend on land for livelihood, the situation is worse. (The article on this link explains how women are impacted,http://www.nape.or.ug/10-blog/132-there-is-nothing-good-out-of-the-mines)
Despite the challenges faced by women, the voicesremained mute with untold suffering, their stories untold and underreported.
This is why National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), a local Non-Governmental Organisation, introduced Uganda Community Green Radio in 2014 in Bunyoro region to address human rights violations.
Nyinabwenge show- Women’s programwas put to specifically amplify the voices of rural women so that they can be heard, to engage them in policy making and protection of property rights, improve food security and address gender gaps in the environmental arena.
The program runs every Saturday evening for two hours and is done by Precious Naturinda as the main host and field reporter, Sara Kyeyune as a co-host, Julius Kyamanywa as the Program Director and Allan Kalangi as the overall radio manager.
The radio has helped women to gain confidence by recording them and inviting them in their radio show where they feel it’s a safe space for them to talk about issues affecting them without fear and hold their leaders accountable.
Women are engaged in conservation efforts and addressing climate change being leading by examples in their communities and disseminating their expertise using the radio. Butimba listeners club in Kikuube district, Kigaaga listeners club in Hoima district and Ngwedo listeners club in Buliisa among others are all engaged in raising indigenous trees and distributing to community members. They are also engage in food security and seed sovereignty campaigns by constructing granaries at households and having group seed multiplication gardens(of indigenous seeds which are facing extinct) which are then distributed amongst themselves.
The radio started with affiliation through another radio but last year, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) purchased Radio Kiboga FM which is being rebranded to Community Green Radio.
According to Allan Kalangi, the officer in charge of the Radio at NAPE, many women contribute a lot towards development but their contributions and success are underreported. However, giving them a program has become a platform for them to sensitize others and they feel they are recognized in society.
Uganda community radio has won 2020 Liz Hughes award from Farm Radio International for the radio’s effort in amplifying the voices of women and addressing local gender equality issues.
The radio was awarded in recognition of its Nyinabwenge women’s program that specifically amplifies the voices of rural women so that they can be heard, take part in policy-making and protection of their rights, improve food security and address gender gaps in environmental arena among others.
“I would like to congratulate you on winning the 2020 Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio. We received more than 60 applications, and your were chosen as this year’s winner. Your application clearly shows that you have identified gender equality issues in your community and are working with women, men and gender experts to discuss and even change these dynamics. You also dedicate a lot of airtime to your women’s program, and make sure to air it at a time and in a language that is convenient for your audience. I congratulate you on your hard work on the program and your fantastic storytelling,” read part of the mail from Katie Burnham, the resource coordinator for Farm Radio International.
Uganda community radio came up as winners beating RTB Gaoua from Burkina Faso, Radio Munyu from Burkina Faso, Radio Kwizera from Tanzania, KituloFm from Tanzania and Fana Broadcasting Cooperation from Ethiopia.
Farm Radio is expected to hand over the award to Uganda Community Green Radio on 8th March in a colorful ceremony that will be held at the radio officers in Kiboga district in Uganda.
Nyinabwenge program runs every Saturday for two hours. It has helped women to gain confidence and is trying to change the narrative on gender roles.
The Liz Hughes Award for her Farm Radio is an award given by Farm Radio International to recognize radio programs that address gender equality and create opportunities to share the voices of rural women.
Allan Kalangi, the officer in charge of Community Green Radio at National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) expressed excitement over the award saying it depicts the great mile stone achieved in amplifying the voices of rural women and promoting gender equality.
Uganda Community Green Radio: Winner of the Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio
Residents of Kyakaboga resettlement camp in Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district have decried the devastating conditions in the camp in addition to injustices resulting from delayed promises from government.
The residents, who opted for resettlement after being evicted from their land to pave way for oil refinery in Kabaale parish, say they are fed up with government’s ‘empty promises’ offirst class marrumroads, land titles and safe water as it was indicated in the Resettlement Action Plan.
SadamTekakwo, the Chairperson of the Resettled residents says they feel insecure without land titles in the oil-rich district where land grabbing is high.
“Seven people in the resettlement camp have been affected by the oil pipeline, however, they have failed to sign consent forms because they have no land titles. Even us who prefer to sell our houses in the camp due to poor living conditions and shift to other places, can’t sell due to lack of land titles,” says Tekakwo.
PhabisShabohurira, a resident says poor roads have cut off access to markets for their produce affecting their livelihood. She adds that though they have water tanks, women trek long distances to water points where one has to even join a long cue.
“The roads are very poor; we are forced to sell our produce cheaply because we have no option. This is affecting us women since most of us depend on agriculture for livelihood,” she decries.
The residents also say that congestion in the camp has led to conflicts and poor hygiene.
“The toilets, which are close to the houses, have already started smelling with in just 2 years of our stay here. Besides that Buseruka is known for having cholera outbreak during rainy season. We are worried the future is not bright for us,” says KetraMusinguzi.
Grace Cupato another resident says conflicts among residents are on increase due to cultural differences and congestion.
“One cannot live a goat or chicken at home, you find when it has been either stolen or killed,’ says Cupato
Innocent Tumwebaze, the secretary for Oil Refinery Affected Residents Association (ORRA) says they are continuing to put pressure on government to ensure that the promises made are fulfilled.
Tumwebaze says with empowerment from National Association Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) they willcontinue to petition government in quest for justice.
“If we do not fight for ourselves, no one will fight for us. Recently when I contacted one of the officials from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, he told me they are still processing our land titles. We shall not give up until we get what we were promised,” says Tumwebaze
Poor and delayed compensation has frustrated the livelihoods of the residents affected by Central Processing Facility (CPF) in Ngwedo Sub County in Buliisa district.
Government acquired land measuring about 310 hectares which will host CPF, access road and base camp during the petroleum activities, according to the Resettlement Action Plan, leaving over 700 people affected.
According to Ngwedo Sub County Chairperson, Steven KaliisaMunange, compensation for property has been marred by delays and low rates, which has adversely affected residents especially women, who derive their livelihood from agriculture.
He explains, “Three years down the road, government has gone silent on 8 people who preferred cash compensation for their land after rejecting 3.5 million shillings per acre. Those who preferred land to land compensation have waited in vain while those who were compensated for crops and property were inadequately compensated.”
Margret Nyakato, 42, a mother of 8 says she was given 20 million shillings as compensation for the crops and a single roomed house which is undergoing construction.
She says she thought the money given to her would help her acquire her own land but due to delayed compensation, the money found her in debts. She says she has now resorted to selling firewood for survival since she has nowhere to cultivate.
She also wonders how she will stay in a single roomed house constructed to her with the 8 children.
“I had my cassava, oranges and jack fruit trees which I would sell and get school fees and income. But now I am stuck that’s why I have resorted to selling firewood. They stopped us from cultivating early yet they delayed to compensate us. This left me with no other option but get a loan so when the compensation money came, it cleared the loan and I remained with nothing,” Nyakato explained.
Margret Asiimwe, 52, says she was supposed to get a house and cash compensation for the land but has since waited in vain despite being stopped from using the land. She says she is now surviving on selling firewood and grass for food since she has nowhere to go.
“I am affected twice. I am HIV positive and my land was taken away from me. Why can’t government give me my money so that I can buy land for my children before I die?” she said.
For Dorothy Mbabazi, who preferred land to land compensation, government identified land which was rejected by residents saying it was not fertile. She says since then, government has remained silent.
“I don’t know whether government has forgotten us or when they will help us. They should rather let us use the land since it is lying idle until they start using it,” she said.
Kaliisa says Ngwedo is the main food basket for the entire district since it is the only area for agriculture. He says tampering with agricultural land in the area affects food security in the entire district.
He suggests that since the land that was acquired for the pipeline was idle, government should allow the affected residents to continue using the land until they get set to start the developments.
Alice Kazimura, the Executive Directive for Kakindo Orphans Care, a local advocacy group that works with National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) says they continue to advocate for the rights of communities by engaging government and oil companies. She says they are also sensitizing women to come up with alternative income generating activities apart from selling grass and firewood
November 25 marks the International Day of elimination of violence against women, which begins the 16 world wide activism campaign against gender-based violence that goes up to December 10. The day is observed every year to raise awareness on the fact that women are subject to rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence around the world. Following on from last year, this year’s global theme once again focuses on violence and harassment in the world of work..
As one of the activities to raise awareness campaigns, NAPE organized media interactions with Women human rights Defenders (WHRD’s)in Bunyoro region to share experiences, strategies and struggles in the face of violence against women.
The women expressed concern over the rising over rising cases of gender based- violence that often go unreported fear to speak out, impunity by perpetrators and gender inequality.
Peninah Ruhindi, a woman activist from Kigaaga in Kabaale Sub County in Hoima says the compensation of persons affected by oil developments has triggered violence in the oil-rich region as men want to take control all the compensation money.
Harriet Kemirembe, the chairperson of Kijayo camp of people who were evicted for Sugarcane growing in Kijayo in Kikuube district says many women who have undergone sexual harassment and rape in the camp have suffered in silence due to fear to break their marriages and shame. She says women are instead freeing their homes in the camps due to the psychological torture they undergo. “Women fear to pass through the sugar plantations because they have been raped and sexually harassed by the employees in the sugar factory but they can’t speak. Where do you start from? Even back in the camp, we are sexually harassed by our husbands in the face of our children due tothe nature of the makeshift huts we sleep in. A man wants to have sex with you when the children are listening. It hurts,” she said.
Jenipher Beitwamaswa, from Navigators of Development Association (NAVODA), a community Based Organization in Hoima says efforts to take up legal actions on sexual harassment and rape have become hard because the victims fear to speak out to give evidence.
“There is a case of rape from Kijayo camp that we were following where a man pushed the woman out of the house only to be raped by the sugarcane workers. However, we failed to take it on because the victim has failed to speak out,” she said.
Despite the challenges, women activists who have been empowered by NAPE are coming up together as a collective power to mobilize other women in communities to speak up in the face of violence. They say through their women groups, they talk about the challenges affecting them including gender-based violence and how to find solutions.
Evas Katusiime, a resident of Kakindo in Buliisa says violence is used as a mechanism that suppresses women yet women have equal access to resources, opportunities and services as men. She said women should join groups to be able to stand together to fight the challenges.
“I thank NAPE for empowering us, it has opened our eyes. Gone are the days when women were violated against and remained silent because there is widespread advocacy through trainings and forming groups. I believe together, we can speak up and fight for our rights,” Katusiime said.
WHRD’s urged the government leaders to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace by putting in place and implementing sexual harassment policies by regularly and promoting the policies, translate into relevant community languages. Put in place reporting mechanisms and promote gender equality. Provide regular trainings and information to women workers and activists.
Women human rights defenders like Evas face many risks to protect their rights, so NAPE and its allies will continue standing in solidarity with women in addressing violence through sensitization, amplifying their voice and bring out the untold stories that women and girls face.
Co-written by Precious Naturinda & Namanya Sostine
With some of the characters from Hoima and Buliisa, the documentary, Women Hold Up the Sky tells the story of how women activists affected by mining and other forms of large-scale extractives in Uganda, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are deeply engaged in resistance and active struggle to take back the control of their land, rights, bodies and their lives.
“Now that we are back on the land, nobody should interfere with our rights as women. If they come to evict us again, we will die to the last person standing,” said Lucy Ongiera a community group leader for Rwamutonga women savings group in Hoima district in the film.
It reveals the experience and activism of women in the three African countries but tells a much bigger story of the ongoing exploitation of natural resources and marginalization of poor communities, particularly women.
“The oil companies destroyed our crops, driving through with the tractors, graders, wires and trucks. When they came to pay, I realized the money they brought was not the right amount, so I rejected it. When I complained, they said they don’t care. I went to court to sue them. And the case has been in the high court since 2011, motionless. We are like squirrels against an elephant because the elephant is huge and can run over you and squash you,” said Margaret Kagole, the chairperson of the TulimeHamu Mbibo Zakadde Women’s group in Buliisa, another character in the film.
The film that was done with support from the WoMIN-an, African Gender and Extractives Alliance, in partnership with the National Association of professional Environmentalists (NAPE) The Uganda film launch was attended by women affected by oil developments, women activists, government leaders who pledged to unite together to strongly hold up their struggles on land and their rights in the era of oil development.
“I have heard in the documentary one women saying that her husband was beaten and left unconscious during eviction in Rwamutonga. What if it was my husband, me who has no eyes, who can’t see? How would I have looked for him? Some of these real life stories make us emotional but it’s a lesson for us as women to stand up and fight for our land. We need to come together as women,” said Joy Nalongo Rufunda, the Chairperson of Blind women association.
Margret Kagole from Buliisa said women should not give up in fighting for their rights on land and be organized in groups to be able to have one strong collective voice.
“I thank NAPE for empowering me. I have been empowered to stand up and fight for what belongs to me. Like for my land case that has been in court since 2011, I think the people I am battling with have now feared me. They have started calling me for peace talks but I refused because I have my lawyer. I have heard it in corridors that I will be compensated. This is what we need as women. We hold on, we don’t give up,” Kagole said.
Bernadette Plan, the Secretary for Gender for Hoima District asked women to work hard and hold up to their struggles against the injustices that have come with oil development in the districtwith the sky being the limit.
Catherine Byenkya, the Minister for Health in Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom hailed NAPE for going on ground to bring out the untold stories of women. She asked women to work together as women and build a platform where the voices from the grassroots to national level can be heard.
“Thank you NAPE for loving women. Let’s work together as women to build ourselves. Let’s stand bold and speak up in defending our rights on land,” said Catherine Byenkya.
Sostine Namanya, the Gender and Food Security Officer at NAPE applauded women who took part in the documentary. She said land issues, environmental degradation and climate displacements affect women most and the documentary gives a lesson on what women face in other countries compared to Uganda and how they are taking on their resistance struggles.
She added that ‘’ Women hold up the sky’’ is a character-driven film about African women who are deeply engaged in struggles to take back control of their land, their rights, their bodies and their lives. The film tells us about women’s experiences and their dreams for development.
The film will be used by allies in the global North will use it for training, political education, lobbying and advocacy. The film will also be the centerpiece of a women-led women’s rights African campaign on fossil fuels, energy and climate justice.
The film will cultivate greater awareness of the costs of extractives-driven development, and its gendered costs, amongst civil society organisations and the wider public, and it will be used to advocate and campaign for the needed development alternatives to governments and multilateral bodies, like the African Union and the United Nations.
Find out more about the film here: www.womenholdupthesky.co.za
Story by Ms.Namanya Sostine and Ms. Precious Naturinda
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the president of Uganda has attacked investors encroaching on wetlands and forests accusing them of contributing to climate change at its negative impacts.
While presiding over the 2019 High Level Uganda Responsible Investment Summit and award ceremony that was held at Equatorial Hotel on 22nd November, the president expressed concern over some irresponsible investors who have degraded forests and wetlands thinking they are promoting sustainable development saying he will not tolerate them.
“As I was walking around, I found people degrading forests and wetlands. I will not tolerate them. I am coming for them,” the president said.
He further told the private sector companies that, “it is useless and shallow thinking when you think of going to degrade forests and wetlands and then you want to think about sustainable development.”
At the ceremony that was organised by Public Opinions and Office of the Minister of State for Privatization and Investment, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) won the Uganda Responsible Investment (URI) award as the best environmental protection organization.
The NAPE Executive Director, Frank Muramuzi who was franked by the NAPE team received the award.
Mr. Muramuzi said expressed excitement saying it manifests the achievements that are seen by anybody especially in areas of environment protection and human rights.
“Now that the government can recognize NAPE, it means it has hit its target and goals as an environmental organization,” Muramuzi said.
Rajab Bwengye, the Coordinator of Projects at NAPE said receiving the award means that NAPE has excelled in environmental protection.
He said that all that NAPE wants is constructive engagement with private sectors so that as they produce and manufacture their products and offer their services, they should give the environment the first priority.
National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) has been awarded as the best environmental protection organization in Uganda.
NAPE was recognized and appreciated for its contribution towards attainment of Uganda Vision 2040 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SGDs) through promoting and upholding international best practices and standards.
The certificate of award was received by the NAPE Executive Director, Mr. Frank Muramuzi on 22nd November during the 2019 High Level Uganda Responsible Investment Summit and award ceremony that was presided over by Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The ceremony that was held at Equatorial Hotel in Kampala was organized by Public Opinions and Office of the Minister of State for Privatization and Investment.
Addressing the investors, President Museveni expressed concern over massive degradation of wetlands and forests which he said he will not tolerate. He attacked irresponsible investors who have degraded forests and wetlands thinking they are promoting sustainable development yet they are greatly contributing to climate change.
Mr. Muramuzi said the award manifests the visible achievements by the organization especially in areas of environment protection and human rights.
“Now that the government can recognize NAPE, it means it (NAPE) has hit its target and goals as an environmental organization,” Muramuzi said while addressing staff.
Rajab Bwengye, the Coordinator of Projects at NAPE said receiving the award means that NAPE has excelled in environmental protection.
“NAPE has been criticizing big environmental polluters and degraders, manufacturing industries, mining companies, oil companies, companies producing consumer products using chemicals and others. So being awarded as the best environmental organization in the presence of sector players is an indicator that we have done our part to ensure that these private sector companies observe the laws, guidelines and best practices for environmental protection,” Mr. Bwengye said.
Mr. Bwengye added that all that NAPE wants is constructive engagement with private sectors so that as they produce and manufacture their products and offer their services, they should give the environment the first priority.
NAPE was also recognized by Buliisa district local government for being a key partner towards the development of the district. The certificate was handed over to Ms.Sostine Namanya, the NAPE officer in charge of gender and food security by the District Community Development Officer, Bernard Barugahara on 13th November.
NAPE has been at the forefront of campaigns against environmental degradation among which includes campaign to save Mabira Forest, campaign against Bujagali dam and save Bugoma Forest.
In 2007, NAPE disputed the giveaway of around 27 square kilometers of Mabira forest to Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL) owned by Mehta Group of Companies for sugarcane plantations. The government in collaboration with SCOUL had proposed to de-gazette this part of the forested land and transfer its ownership to the sugar company. NAPE in conjunction with other civil society groups formed a pressure group codenamed ‘Save Mabira Crusade’ which mobilized Ugandans across the country and beyond to protest the forest de-gazettement plan. The government bowed to pressure and abandoned the plan to de-gazette the forest. However, in 2011, the government again attempted to resurrect the de-gazettement plan but NAPE and other civil society met the president who suggested a joint research between the activists and State House on economic values of the forest which would inform the government on their next step. Since then, the government has kept silent on the Mabira forest issues.
NAPE was also against the construction of Bujagali power dam saying it would not benefit Ugandans and it presented numerous social, economic and environmental problems. However, the Government and World Bank did not listen to the concerns of environmental activists and went ahead to approve the dam project in 2001. Today the dam that was expected to add 250 MW to the national grid is unable to produce 180 MW and electricity demand continues to rise in the country. NAPE warned that Bujagali would not generate the projected megawatts.
In Albertine Region, NAPE has campaigns against Bugoma forest give-away for Sugar cane plantation, campaign on food security and seed sovereignty and protection of sacred natural sites.
In 2006 Oil Palm growing started in Kalangala district. The growing of palm oil in the area came with the destruction of forests by both the company and out growers. Towa forest reserve was encroached on by the company and small scale farmers. Timber cutting and charcoal burning became order of the day in this forest. Many private forests were cleared and replaced by oil palm plantation chief among which were Lwonga, Buguzi, Bweeza, Bwendero, Kizira and Bbeta.
“The clearing of forests for palm oil growing has far reaching adverse effects on the environment and the environment is life”, says Ms. Joan Akiiza, the Legal Officer at National Association of professional Environmentalists, NAPE. NAPE has been working in this area with community members to ensure that palm oil growing does not completely destroy the environment.
David Kureba, the Programme officer in charge of forests at NAPE believes if palm oil growing is not checked, the forest cover in Kalangala might be history. He says the destruction of forests has a direct bearing on the lives of the people in the area.
“Forests are responsible for rain formation and are vital for crop production. This continuous cutting of forests will a cause food crisis here”, explained Mr.Kureba.
The chemicals that are sprayed in palm oil plantations end up in the water sources.
Fire wood has become a challenge since most forests were cut. Women trek considerably long distances looking for firewood.
Food security is at stake since many land owners turned their into palm oil plantations. This has greatly affected food crop growing. Salongo ‘Jim Jim’ Jagenda, a crop farmer explains the gravity of the problem.
“Most people here are now getting food from Kampala and Masaka since there isn’t any land for cultivation here”, explained Mr. Jagenda.
A palm oil growing project has been presented by proponents as source of income. However, environmental degradation concerns and land grabbing continue to dominate discussion in this area.
In May 2013, Friends of the Earth International released a report indicating that the palm oil project was being promoted as a poverty-reducing endeavor, yet it was causing displacement, food insecurity and deforestation.