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A call for civil disobedience against the privatisation of peasant seeds

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For thousands of years, communities have nurtured and taken care of the crops and seeds that sustain us. Seeds are part of human history, work and knowledge systems, and our relationship with them is a never-ending conversation of care. This mutual nurturing has given rise to specific ways of cultivating, sharing, feeding and healing that are linked to community norms, responsibilities, obligations and rights.

People’s freedom to work with seeds hinges on the responsibility of communities who defend and maintain them, who care for them and enjoy the goods they provide. And this freedom is under threat.

Today there is a strong assault on people’s seeds. It comes from the drive to regulate, standardise and privatise seeds to expand markets for corporations. This is done through plant breeders’ rights and patent laws, as well as seed certification schemes, variety registers and marketing laws. Whatever the form, it is about legalising abuse, dispossession and devastation.

Today’s attack on seeds aims to put an end to peasant and Indigenous agriculture, an end to independent food production. Where peasant food sovereignty prevails, it is difficult to turn us into cheap and dependent labour, people without territory and without history. We face a coordinated political and technocratic crusade to impose uniform and rigid laws and regulations in favour of agroindustry. There is a determined effort to discredit people’s historical practices and ancestral indigenous peasant knowledge in order to make us dependent on corporations. Communities who have resisted have faced criminalisation, repression, and even imprisonment

Whether in Africa, Asia, Europe or the Americas, communities are fighting this pressure and we are united and mobilised to actively support them.

In Benin, social movements have stopped the national parliament from discussing a law proposal to join UPOV, the Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties. UPOV sets global standards for seed privatisation in favour of transnationals like Monsanto/Bayer, Syngenta and Corteva.

– In Guatemala, Indigenous peoples are in the streets demanding that their government’s proposed bill to adopt UPOV standards be scrapped as well. They call it “the Monsanto Law” and its rejection is part of an ongoing nationwide strike.

– In El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, groups are working together to prevent the adoption of a new ruling that would open the doors to genetically modified seeds in all three countries at once.

– In Thailand, civil society organisations are fighting hard against free trade agreements that impose UPOV instead of protecting the rights of farmers and other rural communities to maintain and use their local seeds.

-In Indonesia, farmers and civil society organisations continue to reject UPOV, which is being imposed through free trade negotiations and under pressure from countries like Japan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4pD_yZG1lc

-In the Philippines, farmers, scientists, concerned citizens and civil society organizations filed an environmental case to the Supreme Court to stop the commercial propagation of the genetically modified golden rice that is patented by Syngenta and other agrochemical corporations. Moreover, Filipino farmers are spearheading the fight for the recognition and strengthening of farmers’ rights to seeds and farmers’ seed system by forwarding seed commoning as an alternative to the UPOV-like laws in the country.

– Internationally, peasant and other social movements are also trying to get the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) translated into enforceable national laws.

We are determined to resist the dispossession of seeds from the hands of the people. We vigorously oppose registration, certification, patenting and marketing schemes, treaties, conventions, national and international laws and legal frameworks such as UPOV and other seed laws that promote the dispossession of the common goods and knowledge of our peoples.

We, as peoples in resistance, guardians of the seeds, will continue keeping, sharing and reproducing our seeds so our presence will germinate from our roots.

Signatories (Only organisation name displayed):

ABSDD/Slow Food

Burkina Faso

Acción Comunal

Colombia

ACDIC

Cameroun

AFSA

Africa region

agrarinfo.ch

Switzerland

AgriMovement

Lebanon

AIFFRS

India

AKban Mague

Colombia

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

USA

A lo Verde Escuela de Huertos Agroecologicos

Ecuador

Alliance pour le Développement Durable et pour l’Environnement

Côte d’Ivoire

Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture

India

Amigos unidos con amor hojas de agricultura

Colombia

Anti-mining struggle committee

India.

ANAGAVEC

Ecuador

APBREBES

Global/Switzerland

Aravali Bachao

India

ARBA (Asociación para la recuperación del bosque autóctono)

Spain

Aseas

Colombia

Asoproorgànicos

Colombia

Association des Jeunes Agriculteurs de la Casamance

Senegal

Asociación de mujeres unidas por el desarrollo juanchopuquio encañada

Peru

Asociación Ecoaldea Aldeafeliz

Colombia

Asociacion Agroecologia y Fe

Bolivia

Asociación PROBIVIR

Colombia

Association pour la Défense de l’environnement et des Consommateurs (ADEC)

Sénégal

Asociación Shuar Sharup de cuidado y protección de semillas.

Ecuador

Association Sénégalaise des Producteurs de Semences Paysannes

Senegal

Association Tunisienne de Permaculture

Tunisie

Atukpamba y Red de Guardianes de Semillas de Ecuador

Ecuador

Audace Institut Afrique

Côte d’Ivoire

Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation (BAFLF)

Bangladesh

Badabon Sangho

Bangladesh

Bendito Prashadam

Colombia

BioThai

Thailand

Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya

Kenya

Biodiversity Information Box

Japan

Biowatch South Africa

South Africa

Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU)

India

Building Futures

USA

Cabildo Indígena de la cuenca del Río Guabas

Colombia

Cámara Verde de la Amazorinoquía

Colombia

Campesinos construyendo futuro

Colombia

Caritas Diocese of Malakal (CDoM)

South Sudan

Casa de semillas El Origen

Colombia

CCPA

Sénégal

CEIP

Colombia

CENDA

Bolivia

CERAI

Spain

Chile Mejor sin TLC

Chile

Chilis on Wheels

United States

C.netzero

DRC

City Mouse Garden

United States

COAG

Spain

Coati

Colombia

Cocapeutas Cooperatica Mujeres Medicina

Peru

Colectiva de mujeres Muralistas

Colombia

Colectivo Agroecológico Del Ecuador

Ecuador

Colectivo Cultura Saravita

Colombia

Colectivo por la Autonomía / Saberes Locales

México

Colombia Humana

Colombia

Colectivo Minga de soberanía alimentaria deChia

Colombia

Colectivo Semilla Negra

México

Colectivo Xiegua

Colombia

Comité de Derechos Humanos de la Sierra Norte de Veracruz

México

Comité Ouest Africain des semences Paysannes

West Africa

Commission of Charity and Social Actions – Caritas Dalat

Viet Nam

Comunidad Moneda Luna

Colombia

Comunidad Rural de la Buitrera

Colombia

comunidad kishuar Amazanga

Ecuador

Cooperativa Huacal

México

Coordinadora Ambiental Popular de Santa Rosa de Cabal

Colombia

COPAGEN

West Africa

CORDES MAELA RENAF

Colombia

Corpalabra

Colombia

CORPONIMA

Colombia

Corporación Aluna

Colombia

Corporación Creare Social

Colombia

Corporación Compromiso

Colombia

Corporacion Frutos de Utopía

Colombia

Corporación Síntesis

Colombia

Corredor biológico Montes del aguacate costa Rica

Costa Rica

CREATE

INDIA

CSRD

India

CSFdeepinnerMusic

Netherlands

Cuatro Rumbos Para Ti

México

CULTIVISA

Colombia

Cultivo Lo Nuestro

Colombia

Custodios de Semillas Ancestrales

Colombia

Darbar Sahitya Sansada

India

DESMI, A.C.

México

Ecofeminisarte

Colombia

Ecosinergia

Colombia

EdibleBristol

UK

El Jilote, SPG

México

Enda Pronat

Senegal

ESAL

Colombia

Escuela de Líderesas del Ecuador, y mujeres por el cambio, y defensa por la salud de los pueblos

Ecuador

Evobiota Consultancy Corporation

Philippines

Extinction Rebellion València

España

FAEB / Federation Agroecologique du Benin

BENIN

FIAN Indonesia

Indonesia

Finca Carrizales

Colombia

Frente de lucha Ambiental Delia Villalba

Uruguay

Friends of the Earth Nigeria

Nigeria

Fundacion Ambiental

Colombia

Fundacion Avá

Argentina

Fundación Julia Márquez

Colombia

Fundacion Biosistemas Integrados

Uruguay

Fundación la COSMOPOLITANA

Colombia

Fundacion Luna Arte

Colombia

Fundación Runakawsai

Ecuador

Gealac

Peru

Gender Justice

Zambia

Glesi

Netherlands

Good Food Community

Philippines

GRAIN

International

Grassroots klimaatboerderij

Belgium

Grassroots Trust

Zambia

Groupe d’action Écologique pour le développement intégral

RDC

Grow Local Colorado

United States

Grupo Allpa

Ecuador

Grupo Raquira Silvestre SAS

Colombia

Grupo Semillas

Colombia

HEKS Swiss Church Cooperation

Switzerland

Humaine

Belgique

Huerta comunitaria y Jardín Polinizador Con Ojos de Amor

Colombia

Huerta Marsella

Bogota

Huertas Swa Cho

Colombia

Huerto Agroecológico Atemajac

México

Incredible Edible Lambeth

United Kingdom

Indigenous Women and Girls Initiative

Kenya

Instituto Agroecológico Latinoamericano México

México

Instituto Humanitas

Perú

ISRA

Sénégal

JAL Diviso

Colombia

Joint Action for Water

India

Junta de agua vereda laureles

Colombia

JVE Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire

Kikandwa Environmental Association

Uganda

Laboratorio de Tierras

Ecuador

La Via Campesina East and Southern Africa

Zimbabwe

La Tucaneta

Colombia

Lapapaya

Colombia

La Cité Idéale

Burkina Faso

La Cuica Cósmica

Ecuador

La Savia

Colombia

Les amis de la Terre

Togo

Lideresa social

Colombia

Kansas interfaith Action

USA

Karnataka State Farmers Association (KRRS)

India

Malaysian Food Sovereignty Forum (FKMM)

Malaysia

MASIPAG

Philippines

Mesa Departamental de Diálogo y Concertación Agraría, Étnica y Popular de Nariño

Methods Lab

United States

MINGAnet

Colombia

Mink’a Comunicación

Argentina

Mirachik

Ecuador

Mouvement d’Action Paysanne

Belgium

Mouvement des jeunes pour l’agriculture,l’agroécologique,et Agro pastorale (M.J.A.A.P)

R.D.Congo

Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR)

Sri Lanka

Movimiento Agroecológico de América Latina y el Caribe-MAELA

Colombia

Movimiento Campesino de Papaye

Haïti

Movimiento pacto histórico

Colombia

Movimiento Rural Cristiano

España

Mujeres que reverdecen

Colombia

Munsenga cooperative

Zambia

National Alliance for Agroecology The Gambia

Gambia

NeverEndingFood.org

Malawi

Ntaamba Hiinta Development Trust

Zambia

Ofraneh

Honduras

ojoVoz

Mexico

OK Seed Project

Japan

ONG YVEO

Côte d’Ivoire

Organisation des Ruraux pour une Agriculture Durable

Benin

Organización campesinos construyendo futuro (OCCF)

Colombia

Panitar Pally Unnyan Samiti

India

Paralegal Alliance Network

Zambia

Perkumpulan INISIATIF

Indonesia

Perkumpulan Kediri Bersama Rakyat (KIBAR)

Indonesia

Plataforma del País Valencià per un tren públic, social i sostenible que vertebre el territori i refrede el planeta

Spain

Primavera Zur

Colombia

Promotores ambientales del eje cafetero

Colombia

Proyecto agroecologico familiar y educativo ambiental sueño verde

Colombia

PTR Associates

USA

Punarchith

India

RADD

Cameroun

Radio Bénin

Bénin

RECHERCHE SANS FRONTIÈRES RSF

RD Congo

Red de Agricultores Urbanos Bogotá

Colombia

Red de consumo Responsable y consciente

Colombia

Red Colombiana de Agricultura Biológica de Antioquía

Colombia

Red de Custodia de Semillas Criollas y Nativas (CESTA)

Colombia

Red de foresteia análoga

Ecuador

Red de huertos agroecológicos de Cali

Colombia

Red de huertos urbanos

Colombia

Red de Resersvas / Resnatur

Colombia

Red de semillas criollas y nativas

Uruguay

Red de semillas libres de Colombia

Colombia

Red Distrital de Agricultores

Colombia

Red en defensa del Maiz

México

Red Kunagua

Colombia

Redmac

Colombia

REDMUNORCA

Colombia

Red de Pueblos Hermanos

Colombia

Red de jóvenes por la Agrobiodiversidad

Perú

Red Yuma

Colombia

Regional Schools and Colleges Permaculture

Kenya

Reservorio de Semillas Techotiva

Colombia

RESNATUR – Red de reservas

Colombia

Reseau JINUKUN

Benin

Resource Institute of Social Education

India

Salt Films

India

Sanwad

India

Save Earth Save Life Movement

India

Save Our Rice Campaign

India

Secretaria de educación de Bogotá

Colombia

Seed In A Box

Lebanon

Semillas de Nuestra Tierra

México

Semilla Nativa Colombia

Colombia

Semillas de Identidad – SWISSAID

Colombia

Serikat Buruh Migran Indonesia Kalbar

Indonesia

SERVIHUERTA

Colombia

Siyada network

Arab région

Société civile environnementale et agro-rurale du Congo

RDC

Sociedad libre y Neocampesina

Colombia

Soil if Cultures

New Zealand

South India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements

India

SSN

England

Ssfafrica.com

Zambia and Africa

Sukrutham

India

Synergie Nationale des Paysans et Riverains du Cameroun

Cameroun

Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity

Tanzania

Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam

India

The Ecocene Project

India

The Failing Farmer

Tunisia

The Hummingbird Foundation

Kenya

The Sixth Element School

India

The Utopian Seed Project

USA

Tierra Fertil

Colombia

Tinto to go

Colombia

Tlalixpan, sobre la faz de la tierra

México

Unillanos

Colombia

Unión de Organizaciones de la Sierra Juárez Oaxaca

México

Union Démocratique de l’Agriculture

Maroc

Unión de Organizaciones de la Sierra Juárez Oaxaca

México

Unión nacional de organizaciones regionales campesinas

autónomas (UNORCA)

Mexico

Union Régionale des Associations Paysannes de DIOURBEL URAPD

Senegal

Uruguay Soberano

Uruguay

Waia Reserva Sagrada

Colombia

We Are the Solution

Senegal

West africa sea turtles conservation network

Côte d’Ivoire

WFDFFM

Indonesia

Wild Webcap

Australia

Women’s Alliance MN

United States

WMW/ATPA

Tunisie

xermoladas

Spain

Youth talk

RDC

Yuva Kaushal Vikas Mandal

India

Zambian Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity

Zambia

Source: GRAIN

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MEDIA FOR CHANGE NETWORK

Breaking Alert: Barely a year after signing the remedy agreement, World Bank Project-Affected Persons (PAPs) receive fresh land eviction threats

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By Witness Radio team.

Kawaala community, which signed a dispute resolution agreement between the Kawaala community and the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), facilitated by the World Bank Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) a year ago, has received a fresh land eviction threat. PAPs say they have received a three-day notice to vacate the land or face an eviction by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).

This community first faced a forced eviction in December 2020, shortly after Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) acquired a loan from the World Bank on behalf of the government of Uganda to construct the Second Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-2).

A USD 175 million project was started before consultations with the project-affected community, with no compensation or alternative settlement.

The remedy agreement signed on May 31st, 2023, aimed to mitigate the negative impacts of the drainage channel development on the livelihoods of the affected community and agreed to compensate all PAPs.

On June 3rd, 2024,  PAPs and their advisors  (Witness Radio and Accountability Counsel) issued a statement titled One Year Later, Justice is Delayed expressing disappointment in the way the post-agreement phase was being managed. In the agreement, KCCA, on behalf of the Government, offered to compensate all victims, resettle, and restore livelihoods, which have not been met since.

However, as the victim community is still waiting for the full implementation of the agreement by the KCCA, NEMA is forcing the urban poor community to vacate their land without any due process.

On June 13, 2024, NEMA’s representatives, under the protection of over 30 heavily armed soldiers and police officers, descended on the Kawaala Zone II community and issued an ultimatum of three days to vacate their land. Community members’ houses and other structures were marked with a big “X,” indicating they would be demolished.

“NEMA deployed at our homes soldiers and policemen to intimidate us, warning us that if we fail to remove all our belongings in three days, they will be brought down. Yet this is the land that we have held for decades. We are surprised that this is happening.” Kawaala community members revealed to Witness Radio.

According to Project-Affected Persons (PAPs), this is a collusion between KCCA and NEMA to evict them without receiving additional and fair compensation and their livelihood support under the Second Kampala Institution and Infrastructure Development (KIIDP2) project as terms of the May 31st, 2023 agreement.

Witness Radio investigations show that this is the third eviction attempt by the government to run away from its responsibility of providing fair and timely compensation to victims.

The first attempt occurred in December 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, when the Kawaala Zone II community received an eviction notice with a 28-day deadline and no explanation from the government. Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) officials heavily guarded by armed soldiers marked the houses with letter “X,” indicating they were to be demolished under the guise of the Public Health Act Cap 281.

KCCA had hidden intentions of taking the community land for the project without compensation. Upon learning that the project is funded by the World Bank, the Project Affected Persons filed a complaint to the World Bank’s inspection Panel demanding to be fairly compensated among others. The parties (KCCA and the Affected community) opted for the dispute resolution supported by the World Bank’s Dispute Resolution Service (DRS).

Still later on, on 23rd August 2022, when the community was still under the dispute resolution, NEMA emerged under the protection of the military, and anti-riot police descended on gardens for the same families in Kawaala Zone II, cut down food crops and demolished houses belonging to over 100 families.

The grieved PAP revealed that this tactic between the two government entities is intended to deny justice to them.

Mbabali Hamis, a 47-year-old father of 15, is cursing the World Bank-funded project. According to Mbabali, ever since they learned about the project’s implementation in their area, they have faced evictions by government agencies, including KCCA and NEMA, which they believe is a tactic aimed at grabbing their land. Mbabaali’s sentiments were re-echoed by many other project-affected persons.

“We have lived here happily for many years, but everything changed when this project began. Since then, we have witnessed numerous attempts to evict us from our land under the pretense that we have been living in the Lubigi Wetland. This is not true,” He revealed.

Like other residents, Mbabali has lived on his land since 1999, farming yams, sugarcane, and trees to provide for his family. When we spoke to him, his words were coming from far away, “he said, this is my land, and I have been living on it for two decades. I have all the documents proving ownership. Where do they want me to take my family when I bought this land with my hard-earned money?” he asked.

Currently, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is disguising itself as ‘evicting wetland encroachers’ a move targeting the urban-poor families’ land well aware that these individuals are the rightful owners of the land.

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Anti-oil pipeline activist in Uganda detained, pressure group says

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A Ugandan activist campaigning to stop the development of a $5 billion crude oil pipeline in east Africa by France’s TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA), opens new tab and others has been detained by Uganda’s military, the group he works for said on Wednesday.

Stephen Kwikiriza from the Ugandan environmental pressure group Environment Governance Institute (EGI) has been campaigning to halt the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

The 1,445-km pipeline is to carry crude from oilfields in Uganda’s west through Tanzania to a port on Tanzania’s coast.

The pipeline’s opponents, including Human Rights Watch, say the project will displace hundreds of thousands of people, destroy fragile ecosystems and undermine efforts to limit carbon emissions.

In a statement, EGI said the Ugandan military had detained Kwikiriza on Tuesday in the capital Kampala, according to a text message he sent to a colleague. His whereabouts are unknown, said EGI, which works with other groups to oppose the pipeline.

“The StopEACOP coalition…condemn this latest abduction and all the recent escalation of intimidation and arrests and urges the Ugandan authorities to release the human rights defender,” EGI’s statement said.

Deo Akiiki, deputy spokesperson for Uganda’s military said he was not aware of Kwikiriza’s arrest. He said EGI should make a report to police if they believed their colleague was missing.

TotalEnergies did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The company has defended the project in the past, saying that it adheres to strict Ugandan and Tanzanian environmental laws.

Pressure groups accuse Ugandan authorities of harassing activists who have been campaigning against EACOP. Ugandan authorities deny the accusation.

Last month seven activists were briefly detained outside the Chinese embassy in Kampala as they prepared to hand over a petition to the Chinese ambassador asking China to not fund the pipeline.

Source: Reuters

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PAPs and advisors cry foul over the mismanagement of the remedy agreement with the Uganda Government facilitated by the World Bank’s IAM.

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By Witness Radio team.

When Rita Zinsanze (not her real name due to fear of retaliation) signed a remedy agreement with the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) on behalf of the Uganda government, facilitated by the World Bank Independent Accountability Mechanisms (IAM), she was confident that her land, targeted by the Second Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-2), would be compensated fairly.

The agreement was aimed at mitigating the negative impacts of the drainage channel development on her livelihood and gave her hope for a just resolution.

Rita’s family is one of the hundreds of families affected by the construction of the Lubigi drainage project, which is part of the KIIDP2 project implemented by KCCA.

“I wanted fair compensation so that I could buy land elsewhere and resettle my family, hoping to rebuild our lives as we once lived,” she revealed in an interview with a Witness Radio journalist.

Before the coming of the project, Rita used to live happily with her family on her 100 ft70 ft plot (0.065 hectares) of land farming yams, sugarcanes, and trees, which she used to sell and earn a living to cater for her family’s needs.

“I used to earn at least 500,000 Uganda shillings (131.53 United States Dollars) from yams and sugarcanes every season plus doing other works that supplemented my living.” She added.

But now, Rita says her situation has worsened since the project got to her land. Now, she struggles to make ends meet for her family of 10 because the compensation is very little to enable her to find an alternative piece of land elsewhere.

Rita, like other Kawaala Project Affected Persons (PAPs), finds themselves disillusioned, as none of the promises made before signing the agreement have materialized.

“Every time I follow up on my additional compensation and other promises, they (governmental officials) keep extending days to get my entitlements. I am becoming hopeless for the endless and empty trips I have been making to their offices.” she lamented.

May 31st, 2024, marked the first anniversary since a remedy agreement was signed. In the agreement, PAPs were promised additional compensation, livelihood restoration projects, settlement, and other support.

Instead, the aftermath has brought more negative impacts on the community members, including increased flooding of the area caused by poor drainage, hate speeches, poverty, and family separation.

In a statement released on June 3rd, 2024, by both Witness Radio and Accountability Counsel under the title: One Year Later, Justice is Delayed called upon KCCA and the World Bank to pay agreed compensation, address livelihood concerns, provide a thorough update, and ensure effective monitoring of the implementation of the agreement among others.

Furthermore, the statement mentions that some members of the community are worried that the remains of their departed family members would be lost as some of these affected community members are yet to be compensated for this loss and have not been able to restore their loved ones’ grave sites.

For more details on the statement, click on the link below; https://witnessradio.org/one-year-later-justice-is-delayed-a-joint-statement-on-the-implementation-of-the-kiidp-2-kawaala-community-agreement/

A brief background of the project;

KCCA in 2015 acquired a 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) is to finance the construction of Lubigi Primary Channel.

On December 3, 2020, the Kawaala communities were shocked to find KCCA representatives in their village, accompanied by armed police officers, distributing eviction notices and informing residents that they had 28 days to vacate their homes. A few days later, for instance, in the wee hours of 05th/12/2020, the community started experiencing attacks by armed anti-riot police and workers of the construction company; destroying properties, without any prior consultation or plan for compensation and resettlement.

In a bid to find justice, in June 2021, the affected community filed a complaint with the World Bank’s Inspection Panel and raised concerns about forced evictions during COVID-19. At the time of the Complaint, the Kawaala community worried that their land would be taken away without adequate compensation and that the project had been marred with retaliatory attacks from people believed to be project implementers against project affected community.

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