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20,000 People Allegedly Displaced in Uganda for UK Forestry Company’s Carbon-Offset Program

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Extracted from treehugger , September 23, 2011

Nzabakulisiza Sirasi, 32, is one of over 20,000 people to have been evicted from their homes in Mubende District, Uganda, since the government licensed land to the New Forests Company. Photo: Simon Rawles / Oxfam GB.

With the spotlight turning this week to climate refugees, including the 30 million people in Asia reportedly displaced last year by environmental and weather-related disasters, the latest news out of Uganda seems even more poignant. More than 22,500 people, mostly poor farmers, have allegedly been forced out of their homes to make way for a project that purports to do something to counteract climate change: planting trees.Small farmers growing coffee and tending fruit trees and beehives in Mubende and Kiboga districts were evicted last year by the Ugandan government “to make way for the U.K.-based New Forests Company to plant trees, to earn carbon credits and ultimately to sell the timber,” John Vidal wrote yesterday for The Guardian. The farmers say they have lost everything, and cannot feed their children.

Victims Of Land Disputes
“Their land claims were being considered by the Ugandan courts when, they allege, the army and police forced them out in several waves of violent evictions which took place up to last year,” Vidal wrote, noting that land disputes are common in Uganda.

kiboga uganda street scene displaced farmers oxfam photo

Two boys in Kiboga, Uganda, where communities have absorbed thousands of people forced off their land since the arrival of the New Forests Company. Photo: Simon Rawles / Oxfam GB.

The story adds a sad new twist to the ongoing controversy over whether planting trees is an appropriate and effective way to offset carbon emissions. According to Oxfam, NFC — which has had two of its Ugandan plantations certified by the Forest Stewardship Council — claims to be planting and harvesting timber on “underutilized and/or degraded” land in Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Rwanda. One commenter on The Guardian‘s website took that statement to task:

So Ugandan land occupied by a Ugandan farmer is “degraded,” according to NFC. In fact his small-scale mixed agriculture is the most sustainable form of land use there is. Over time his trees will probably absorb more CO2 than NFC’s trees, because unlike NFC he doesn’t kill them for commercial timber when they are grown. For what it’s worth, unlike NFC’s managers, shareholders, and log transporters, his carbon footprint is negligible.

The New Forests Company, which is partially owned by HSBC Bank, denies the allegations of violence and says it played no role in the evictions. Following criticism by Oxfam, which is conducting an international campaign against “land grabs” in poor countries, the company has said it is conducting an investigation.

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The World Bank project affected persons have petitioned the court seeking to halt an illegal eviction by capital authority

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By witnessradio.org Team

 

Kampala – Uganda – more than 300 families at Kawaala Zone II, Lubaga Division in Kampala district have today, the 11th January 2021 petitioned the court seeking to restrain the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) from illegally evicting them off their land, which they have lawfully occupied and cultivated for decades.

 

The affected families through Witness Radio lawyers accuse KCCA of hiding under the Public Health Act to issue a demolition notice targeting all properties on the land to give way for construction of a multi-billion drainage channel, which is funded by the World Bank. KCCA is established by an act of Parliament and it’s responsible for the management and administration of the capital city.

 

Specifically, KCCA is using section 72(1) cap 281 of the Public Health Act, to force them off their land without consultation, sensitization, property valuation, and compensation claiming that they (residents) illegally constructed their houses in a wetland.

 

The court action follows Witness Radio and the affected attempted to engage KCCA over the irrational decision however efforts to hear from them were futile.

 

In 2015, KCCA acquired USD 175 million loan from the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) for Kampala Institution and Infrastructure Development (KIIDP) project. However, part of the money (USD 17.5 million, which is 63 billion Uganda shillings) was earmarked to construct Lubigi Primary Channel and it’s being used to dispossess poor urban communities without consultation, sensitization, and infringed communities’ right to know and access to information.

 

The 2.58 Kilometers project expected to end later this year, stretches from Bwaise roundabout to Hoima road, southwest of Kampala.

 

The eviction is taking place at the time when the government of Uganda halted all land evictions during the COVID 19 pandemic and the determination of KCCA to forcefully evict the urban poor raises many legal questions.

 

The victims want the court to issue an interim order and temporary injunction to restrain KCCA from implementing the decisions that are being challenged.

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Renewing demand for justice; the 28 land rights defenders have applied for bail

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By witnessradio.org Team

Mubende – Uganda – the defense lawyers of the 28 community land rights defenders have filed new applications for bail at Mubende High Court after spending 3 years in prison.

The 28 include two staff members of Witnessradio.org‘s Nantubiro Grace and Mugwabya Ronald.

Others are; Mugisha Focus, Ssekamana Kaloli, Mwikirize Keleti, Ssewanyana Kizza John, Tumwine Moses, Bigirwa Gilbert, Mulindwa Tadeo, Kayesu Patrick, Kyalimpa Tobias, Mugisha Stephen, Mwesigye John, Kiiza John Bosco, Byakatonda Aroon, Manirikiza Elidefunce, Tabalamule William, Kobwemi Christopher,  Kiwanuka Emmanuel, Senkula Charles, Ssemombwe George, Musinguzi Paul, Biryomumisho Fred, Maniriho Forodis,  Habimana Ernest, Byaruhanga Emmanuel, Mwesigye Julius and Kezaala Saul.

They are facing 9 counts including murder, and aggravated robbery among others.

The prosecution alleges that on October 12, 2018, the accused at Kambuye-Kanseera, Mubende district, killed and robbed Yunus Kasajja Tabu of his three mobile phones.

Late Tabu allegedly died during a fight with land grab affected community whose assailants are still unknown. Tabu was a manager of local businessman one Kaweesi George, under the protection of police grabbed 322.5 hectares and violently evicted over 3500 lawful occupants on Block 168; Plot 19, 22 and 23 covering five villages namely; Kambuye, Kikono, Kyabaana, Kanseera and Lwensanga in East Division, Mubende Municipality, Mubende district. The land is adjacent to Kaweeri Coffee Plantation is covering on.

However, police carried out a random arrest and targeted land rights defenders and activists that were mobilizing and empowering the landgrab affected community to resist an illegal and forceful eviction.

In January 2019, the attempt to get bail for witnessradio.org‘s Nantubiro Grace and Mugwabya Ronald was denied High Court in Mubende’s justice Joseph Mulangira.

According to officials at Mubende High Court, bail applications will be heard this afternoon.

 

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More than 800 families face eviction, petition district land Board

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By witnessradio.org Team

 

Mubende – Uganda – More than 800 families from Kyamukoona, Kijojolo and Kalagala villages- Mubende District have petitioned the district land board to immediately cancel the land title that was fraudulently issued out to one Samuel Wambi Maamali. They explain that the cancellation will avert the looming eviction.

 

The lease was issued out on August, 1st 2015, a process the community regarded as fraudulent because the title was acquired from the center (Land Commission), which contradicts the legal procedures of acquiring a freehold title.

 

The community members stated that the person who fraudulently acquired a land title never consulted the area, parish and sub-county land boards that should have advised and guided on whether the land was lawfully being occupied and cultivated.

 

The residents revealed that they have occupied the land for more than 40 years, and it houses government-aided schools, hospitals, churches, and several vital infrastructures.

 

It is reported that the residents, local leaders, and Maamali held a meeting in 2019 in which (Maamali) said he was not interested in the land because his initial interest was on a land situated at Kalingo LC1 Mugungulu Parish- Bagezza Sub country –Mubende district not that of Kyamukoona. He later asked the residents to refund the money (UGX 200, 000) which he claims having used to survey and demarcate the 1.5 mile land, which they without hesitation accepted.

 

However, Maamali overturned the meeting resolution as he has since issued the residents with an eviction notice.

 

“I have occupied this land for the last over  40 years, well knowing that this is public land but I was astonished to learn that the District Land Board went ahead and illegally processed a land title for block 240 Plot 12, which is totally wrong” Bwambale reveals.

 

Ahimbisibwe David, a resident of Kijojolo Cell says “I wanted to formalize my land ownership. I was shocked to learn that it was already surveyed by an unknown person in the area”.

 

It is alleged that the district land board has previously leased out people’s land to tycoons without following proper legal procedures.

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