Monday, February 7th, 2022 | By

As Uganda signs the Final Investment Decision (FID) that puts the oil projects into construction phase, host communities are worried that they might not benefit from the economic opportunities due to forced evictions.

Uganda, Total Energies and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (NOOC) ltd on 1st February 2022 took the Final Investment Decision (FID) on Uganda’s crude oil development.

The two oil giants reached a deal to invest US $10 in development of Kingfisher and Tilenga fields and the oil export pipeline at a function that was presided over by Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in Kololo Kampala.

This development will create over 160,000 jobs according to the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa.

However, the host communities in the Albertine Graben say evictions are already obstructing them from the opportunities that are coming with the developments.

While appearing on Community Green Radio on the day of singing the FID, the people affected by eviction in Rwamutonga village in Hoima district said the forced evictions have left them ill-equipped and unprepared to meaningfully tap into economic benefits of oil pipeline construction.

“These oil opportunities require us rural women to organise ourselves into groups and start supplying food to huge workforce in the oil sector. But the forced evictions in 2014 that pushed us in camps for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) for three years left us in extreme poverty and setback. We are now starting from scratch,” said Betty Kusemererwa, one of the residents of Rwamutonga village who were evicted from land by land grabbers in 2014.

Joan Kansiime, another resident says the forced eviction forced many youths to drop out of school at lower levels.

“Government is giving opportunities to the youth to learn hands-on skills like welding and driving to be able to work in the oil companies but most of us dropped out of school at primary levels. We ended up opting for early marriage for survival,” she said.

Esther Turyaheebwa, a resident of Kigyayo Camp for internally displaced people in Kizirafumbi Sub County in Hoima district says evictions have left them landless and unable to tap into oil opportunities.

“Our children dropped out of school after evictions so they have not been able to go to technical schools to work as oil workers during the construction. As women, we have nowhere to farm to be able to at least supply food. Therefore, those jobs will be taken by other people as we are here in the camp languishing in poverty,” says Turyaheebwa, who is among people in Kigyayo IDP that were evicted by Hoima sugar limited to pave way for sugar cane growing in 2015.

Besides forced evictions, undervaluation and delayed compensation have dominated the land acquisition process of the oil project.

Joan Akiiza, the Senior  programme Officer legal & Advocacy at National Association of Professional Environmentalists says conflicts over natural resources in the Albertine have affected women’s ability to tap into oil opportunities so that.

She says NAPE is training women in entrepreneurship skills to ensure that they reduce conflicts within the camps and get organised to benefit from oil opportunities.