Accountable Development To Communities
Breaking Alert! A community fighting forced eviction during COVID-19 lockdown, Witness Radio-Uganda together with Accountability Counsel file a complaint before the World Bank’s Inspection Panel…
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kawaala community of Kampala, Uganda, is facing eviction to pave the way for the construction of the World Bank-funded Lubigi drainage channel. Accompanied by armed soldiers, representatives of the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) turned up at shocked residents’ homes, placing a red “X” on many structures and explaining that they were earmarked for demolition – the first those families had heard of the KCCA’s plan to take their homes and land.
The construction of the Lubigi drainage channel will displace more than 100 families from their shelter and farmlands. These farms enable community members to feed their families and sell other produce, earning income that pays for their children to attend school. For some of the community members, family grave sites will be lost, as well as ancestral land intended for their children and grandchildren. Yet neither the KCCA nor the World Bank provided adequate information to the community about project plans, nor did they meaningfully consult them on the extent of displacement and any plans for compensation and resettlement, as required by World Bank policies, before issuing eviction notices.
After its glaring mismanagement of this project was highlighted by the Kawaala community and its local partners, including Witness Radio, KCCA and its agents have begun to push affected community members through a rushed and problematic resettlement process, prioritizing project timelines over the livelihoods and wellbeing of affected people and the accuracy and completeness of the process. Out of desperation, many community members have signed documents they do not understand.
The Kawaala community raised its concerns with the World Bank Uganda country office and asked them to closely monitor the project, but the World Bank refused – using restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse for their inaction – seemingly indifferent to the risks and impacts of forcibly displacing a vulnerable community during that same pandemic.
Given these failures, in the face of the severe threats to their wellbeing and livelihoods, the Kawaala community has filed a complaint about the project to the World Bank’s Inspection Panel seeking protection from the forced and unfair eviction processes, as well as meaningful consultation and participation in the design of a comprehensive and fair resettlement solution.
An attempted forced eviction, during a pandemic
In December 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, communities living in Kawaala Zone II, in Kasubi Parish, Rubaga Division, Kampala were awoken in the early morning hours to find excavators and armed guards destroying their property, without any prior consultation or plan for compensation and resettlement. The previous day, they had received eviction notices requiring them to vacate their lands within 28 days. The eviction notice was issued by the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). The KCCA, with support from the World Bank, is constructing the Lubigi drainage channel as part of a broader road and infrastructure project.
The Kawaala community has lived, built their homes, and earned their livelihoods through farming and livestock-keeping in the area since the 1960s. With a population of approximately 300, the community is composed mostly of elderly men and women. Given the high number of elderly persons in the community, most are illiterate. Their farms enable community members to feed their families and sell other produce, earning income that pays for their children to attend school.
On December 3, 2020, the Kawaala communities were shocked to find KCCA representatives in their village, accompanied by armed guards, distributing eviction notices and informing residents that they had 28 days to vacate their homes. KCCA representatives approached residents’ homes, placing a red “X” on many structures and explaining that they were earmarked for demolition.
The eviction notices included a claim that violations of health and safety code were the reason for the evictions. However, through active investigations, the community was able to confirm that the area was being cleared to make way for the expansion of the Lubigi drainage channel, part of the World Bank-funded Second Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-2).
Over the following two days, in contravention of the 28-day notice period, the KCCA began attempting to evict residents. They brought excavators and destroyed some homes and gardens before community members were able to contact local leaders, who successfully intervened and persuaded the KCCA to halt the eviction process.
The Kawaala community, with the support of Witness Radio, was then able to challenge the eviction by filing a case at the High Court in Kampala. This prompted the KCCA to halt the eviction process. However, the court case remains undecided and the eviction notice still has not been withdrawn, leaving the community at risk of sudden eviction.
The World Bank’s involvement
The World Bank’s KIIDP-2 project funds the construction and rehabilitation of roads and associated infrastructure throughout Kampala via a USD 175 million loan. This project includes, among other works, the expansion and construction of the Lubigi Primary Drainage Channel, which forms part of the eight primary channels in Kampala and is 2.5 kilometers long. The project also involves institutional and systems development support to the KCCA, including for engineering and technical services.
KIIDP-2 follows the Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-1), which had similar objectives. Around 2014, KIIDP-1 led to the construction of a channel diversion that ran through the land of many local residents and cut others off from easy access to schools and basic services. Residents report that this diversion was described to them as “temporary,” and they were therefore not offered resettlement compensation. Some received a small sum for temporary disturbance from project works, while other families affected by the diversion did not receive even this much and were thrown into a state of desperation or even homelessness following the original channel diversion. KIIDP-2 will expand on this diversion, widening it significantly and requiring forced eviction of residents across an area 70 meters wide and 2.5 km long. Many residents report that they never realized that the diversion would be made permanent until the forced eviction process began last December.
A general project fact sheet by the KCCA claims that all affected properties were registered years ago, and states that no new developments will be valued or compensated, but residents dispute this claim. The KCCA has since walked back from this assertion and begun a rushed and problematic resettlement process, based on a contested and non-consultative surveying process that residents believe does not accurately reflect their land rights.
The devastating impacts of this project
The Lubigi drainage channel project will result in most affected families losing their homes and others losing their farmland, leaving very little for them to sustain themselves. In addition to that displacement, the construction of the drainage channel poses a series of other environmental and social concerns:
- Loss and disruption of family remains: Some community members risk losing the remains of their loved ones that are buried in the land set aside for the project.
- Food insecurity: This risk comes as a result of the destruction of crops, including those crops already destroyed in the attempted forced eviction in December 2020.
- Loss of education: In case of any eviction or relocation without adequate compensation, community members fear that the children will be forced to drop out of school since the houses built and the crops grown on the land are their sole sources of income to cover their fees and tuition. Community members fear that this in turn will lead to increased marriage rates for young girls with limited options.
- Safety risks: Following the construction of the channel to date, the local area has become unsafe for children to play outside due to a constant risk of drowning, which is especially heightened during rainy periods. There have been reported cases of people drowning.
- Sexual exploitation: Some women in Kawaala have been compelled to engage in transactional sexual relationships to ensure that their children’s basic needs are met ever since the KCCA coerced them into abandoning their gardens to make way for the construction of the channel diversion under KIIDP-1. Residents fear that this pattern will be intensified if community members are not provided with fair and complete compensation to address the full extent of economic impacts from another forced resettlement.
- Cumulative impacts of multiple infrastructure projects: The Kampala Northern Bypass Highway, funded by the European Union and the Government of Uganda, as well as the Lubigi Sewage Treatment Plant, funded by the European Union and the German Government, were also constructed in the community’s immediate vicinity in recent years, surrounding the Kawaala community on multiple sides by government-sponsored and internationally funded infrastructure projects.
- Flooding: Far from improving the flooding problems that plague the area, community members have observed that flooding has actually increased in Kawaala Zone II, since the channel diversion and other multiple infrastructure projects began.
- Other social impacts: Residents expect that eviction without adequate compensation will likely lead to a host of other foreseeable social issues, such as increased rates of domestic violence, child abandonment, or other family rifts.
Because of the totality of these impacts, the community deems it best to be compensated and resettled elsewhere in order to live with dignity.
Raising concerns with the World Bank Uganda country office
The KIIDP-2 project is proceeding in blatant contravention of a host of World Bank commitments designed to ensure meaningful consultation of communities and to avoid or mitigate environmental and social impacts, including resettlement. Although the KCCA has walked back from its initial assertions denying residents’ rights to compensation, in recent months it has undertaken a forced, rushed, and non-transparent survey process that some residents were unable to participate in. Residents are deeply skeptical that any compensation determined based on this incomplete survey will provide them with fair and accurate compensation assessments.
On March 4, 2021, community representatives raised their concerns regarding the project and the potential harm in a meeting with KCCA officials and the World Bank Uganda country office team. The World Bank team directed that the KCCA intensify citizen and stakeholder engagement and provide adequate project information to the community in Luganda rather than English. Further, the KCCA was asked to carry out proper identification of the project-affected persons and, through a consultative process, determine the amount and type of compensation needed. Lastly, the World Bank team directed that the KCCA re-constitutes a Grievance Redress Committee composed of representatives of all the stakeholders in the project.
The World Bank, however, refused the community’s demand that Bank staff visit the project site and engage in follow-up meetings with the community. The community feared that, without this supervision, the KCCA would continue to abuse the rights of affected community members.
Those fears have been realized. The KCCA has not followed the directions of the World Bank and is continuing to rely on its forced survey process, as well as failing to meaningfully consult community members on the details of any compensation.
Inspection Panel complaint
Through Witness Radio, community representatives reached out to Accountability Counsel to support the filing of a complaint. Because of the non-responsiveness of the KCCA and the World Bank to their concerns, the community wanted to escalate those concerns to the World Bank’s independent accountability mechanism, the Inspection Panel. After several consultations with different groups in the community to understand their concerns and goals of the complaint, Witness Radio and community representatives filed a complaint on June 17, 2021 with the following demands (in summary):
- That the project should be investigated and evictions halted until affected people are properly informed about the project and consulted about its impacts and necessary mitigation measures, and are consulted on the formation of a resettlement action plan that addresses the concerns of local residents;
- That the KCCA formally withdraws the eviction notice issued under the Public Health Act Cap. 281 against the residents and other similarly affected persons;
- That the community be resettled and fairly compensated, given that the land is now uninhabitable;
- That the compensation processes be aimed at ensuring that the entire family is included and able to share in the benefits, rather than being provided to the head of household only, which can contribute to intra-family and social conflicts and gender disparities. For example, the KCCA should encourage both spouses to sign compensation documents and attend related meetings, and it should provide compensation funds into jointly-owned bank accounts; and
- That the affected people should be provided with resettlement assistance, including scholarships for their children at least until families have an opportunity to find an alternative livelihood. Any resettlement assistance should include social support programs such as stress management, anger management, and domestic violence sensitization programming to reduce common social problems that can accompany physical displacement.
The complaint is currently awaiting registration and an assessment of eligibility by the Inspection Panel.
Accountability Counsel is partnering on this case with Witness Radio, an advocacy and media organization focused on issues of rights in development in Uganda, cutting across sectors (including agribusiness, environment, mining, and extraction). They monitor, document, and report human rights violations using traditional and new media formats and, where possible or necessary, support communities to seek justice through judicial and non-judicial mechanisms.
Community representatives filed a complaint with the World Bank’s independent accountability mechanism, the Inspection Panel, on June 17.
Community representatives met with the World Bank Uganda country office and the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
In spite of the 28-day notice period communicated on the previous day, on December 4 and 5, the KCCA began attempting to evict residents. They brought excavators and destroyed some homes and crops before community members were able to contact local leaders, who successfully intervened and persuaded the KCCA to halt the eviction process. Shortly after, the Kawaala community, with the support of Witness Radio, was then able to challenge the eviction by filing a case at the High Court in Kampala. This prompted the KCCA to halt the eviction process. However, the eviction notice still has not been withdrawn.
On December 3, the KCCA issued a notice to residents of Kawaala Zone II to vacate their land within 28 days.
Through their local partner, Witness Radio, community representatives reached out to Accountability Counsel because their concerns were not being heard by the World Bank or its client, the Kampala Capital City Authority. As is too often the case, as soon as Accountability Counsel became involved, the World Bank became more responsive – although their actions continue to be woefully inadequate to prevent harm and comply with their own environmental and social safeguards.
Given those failures on the part of the World Bank and its client, community members decided to elevate their concerns to the World Bank’s Inspection Panel. In April 2021, Accountability Counsel’s Africa Communities Associate, Robi Chacha Mosenda, traveled to Kampala to document the community’s concerns and goals in preparation for complaint filing.
On June 17, 2021, Witness Radio filed an Inspection Panel complaint on behalf of the Kawaala Zone II community, seeking protection from the forced and unfair eviction processes, as well as meaningful consultation and participation in the design of a comprehensive and fair resettlement solution.
In close partnership with Witness Radio, we will continue to support the Kawaala Zone II community to prepare for, understand, and navigate through each stage of the Inspection Panel’s process, demanding accountability and remedy from the World Bank for its oversight and lack of due diligence that has harmed these communities.
- 5 March 2021 Witness Radio welcomes the World Bank’s intervention into Kawaala drainage channel project affected persons By Witness Radio Team
- 22 December 2020 The World Bank and its partners flout business and human rights standards to evict hundreds of families By Witness Radio Team
- 9 December 2020 Tension as more than 300 poor families are being evicted by a World Bank-funded project By Witness Radio Team
Family burial sites have experienced regular flooding ever since the initial channel diversion directed water through residents’ properties. These burial sites now in the path of the planned channel expansion (Credit Witness Radio).
This channel diversion constructed around 2014 will be widened to 70 meters, requiring extensive evictions. (Credit: Witness Radio).
A makeshift bridge connects Kawaala residents with schools and shops across the channel but creates a safety hazards, especially during frequent flood events.
The channel diversion constructed in 2014 has led to increased flooding and safety hazards, including at least one drowning due to inadequate walkways around the channel. (Credit Witness Radio)
A community kickboxing academy marked for demolition by KCCA.
A homeowner hesitates to finish construction his home, as it is marked for demolition by the KCCA.
Original Source: accountabilitycounsel.org
Accountable Development To Communities
Starvation is rooming in Kiryandongo district as families count losses after missing the seventh planting season consecutively to a multinational.
By Witness Radio team
As farmers are busy planting their garden fields during this rainy season in Uganda, the hopes for Kiryandongo smallholder farmers continue to dwindle as the multinational continues with forceful evictions and bars them from accessing their gardens for seven consecutive seasons since 2020.
They said in every planting season, the company employs private security guards from Saracen that are assisting the company’s employees to stop the smallholder farmers from planting their crops. This has contributed to food insecurity and poverty since the community had entirely been depending on subsistence farming as their main source of livelihood.
Jerusalem-Kisalanda is one of the villages in Kiryandongo district, Western Uganda, that have faced constant violent attacks and forced evictions from Agilis Partners Limited, a company owned by two American brothers and deals in the grains and seeds business. The village is now in the middle of the Agilis farms.
Agilis Partners Limited, since 2017 has been carrying out forced evictions in the Kiryandongo district with the interest to pave way for large-scale industrial agriculture.
According to the affected villagers, since last week on Saturday the 11th of March, 2023, the company has employed both its employees and guards from a private security company, Saracen to frustrate any farming activity by community members on their land. The company accuses the people of illegally occupying the land.
Mr. Samuel Kusiima, a community land rights defender and one of those affected by the evictions, in an interview with Witness Radio Uganda, revealed that the maize and beans he has been planting get destroyed by the company, saying we are “encroaching on the company’s land.”
“These guards come at 6:00 am and leave late in the night, they say they are employed to keep the company garden, and cannot allow us to access our fields. They initially said they had given me 10 acres of my land but also the ten remain inaccessible. Over 10 families are at the edges of starvation.” The defender revealed.
He added, “We used to earn millions from our gardens but we are now starving and the company is profiteering from our misery. It does not care about us.”
“These guards are often violent and threaten to shoot us if we resist, last week they found my wife in the garden and threatened to shoot her. They always say they have orders to do whatever they want but we are tired of this” the defender further added.
Mr. Nkuzimana John, another victim, said he survives by the mercy of God since he has been victimized. He adds that there has never been any intervention from authorities and courts of law for the past seven seasons.
“Even when you report these incidents to authorities including police, there is no change or hope for a change. My family currently starves because I don’t have food to feed them. I cannot access the 50 acres of land that I had. The company told me to use a quarter of an acre of it last season, which is impossible. Last season I planted maize on two acres of my land but it was harvested by the company.” He said.
Currently, Sam and the rest of the community are living in abject poverty with no hope of recovering from it, a situation they claim has been brought by Agilis partners. “This has been ongoing since 2020. Even when we resist and continue to plant the crops, they either bring a tractor to plow our crops or spray them with chemicals. Do they want us to go steal to earn a living?” the defender questioned.
The community now, makes ends meet by being hired as laborers by neighboring communities, burning charcoal, and also surviving on handouts from their relatives and friends.
“We are collecting tree stems that are thrown by the Company. This is what we burn and get charcoal that we sell to earn a living. It is also not easy because sometimes we are prohibited from taking them, hence risking our lives. If not that, we ask for support from our relatives and friends or seek opportunities to be hired as laborers.” One of the Community members shared.
For the past five years, Kiryandongo has had a history of forced evictions by multinational companies. According to Witness Radio, over 35000 people have been evicted by three multinational companies which include, Agilis partners, Kiryandongo Sugar Company, and Great Seasons SMC all interested in carrying out large-scale plantation agriculture on the fertile lands of Kiryandongo.
When contacted for a comment on the abuses performed by Agilis partners, Mr. Emmanuel Onyango, the company’s Public Relations Officer told our reporter to write to him an email, for a better and easier response within a short period.
By the time of writing this story, Mr. Onyango had not yet responded to the email.
Accountable Development To Communities
Minister orders for reinstatement of a local community back onto its land.
By Witness Radio team
The Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has ordered over 500 families that were brutally evicted from Kapapi and Kiganja sub-counties in Hoima district to be returned to their land.
In the wee hours of the 10th of February 2023, Waaki North, Kapapi Central, Waaki South, Runga, and Kiryatete villages in Kapapi and Kiganja sub-counties were raided by a team of police officers backed by private guards and violently evicted people from their land.
The violent attack left over 500 families evicted some community members injured, houses torched, property worth millions destroyed, and animals looted. The affected residents have been pitching camp at Rwenyana Church in Kapapi whereas others are scattered in other areas staying with relatives.
Addressing a meeting in Rukola village Kapapi sub-county, in Hoima district attended by the victims of eviction, area leaders, police, and Resident District commissioner, and many others, Judith Nabakooba said the eviction was unlawful and was conducted at night, which is contrary to the law.
Nabakooba directed the security committee to allow the victims of the forced eviction to return to the land since they have nowhere to go, adding that the investigations into ownership of the land will continue.
David Karubanga, the Kigorobya county member of parliament wants the Hoima district security committee investigated for conniving with land grabbers and failing to protect the local communities.
James Kiriti, one of the victims told the minister that the evictions were orchestrated by the entire district security committee of Hoima that has been compromised by what he termed as “land grabbers” but they distanced themselves from enforcing the evictions, claiming they were unaware.
The residents who were evicted on two pieces of land are feuding over land with seven tycoons accusing them of using security forces to grab their land without following the due processes.
One piece of land is being grabbed by six people including Ndahura Gafayo, Aston Muhwezi, David Mpora, Monica Rwashadika, Agaba, and Wilber Kiza, and measures 1030 hectares while the other is being claimed by Moses Asimwe measuring three square miles.
“We only saw police and private security guards attached to magnum security group rounding up the village and started beating people, torching houses, and ordering us to leave our land where some of us have lived since birth. Our animals including cows and goats were also looted,” Mr. Mugume Deus, a father of twelve told Witness Radio Uganda.
Since 2020, the community members have been receiving violent threats of eviction leading to arbitrary arrests and detentions of over seven (7) villagers. They claim several members were kidnapped and driven to unknown destinations, and they have not been found.
The community claims that people targeting their land use the police and the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) to arrest and unscrupulously charge community members with false charges intended to force them out of the land.
In January 2022, 12 community members were arrested by police and charged with theft, criminal trespass, malicious damage, and threatening violence. They are currently on remand at Hoima government prison.
However, the alleged land grabbers want the communities to vacate the land claiming they are occupying it illegally.
Accountable Development To Communities
Community petitions the Police Professional Standards Unit over the unprofessional conduct of Kiryandongo DPC for abetting land grabs…
By the Witness Radio team.
A community of smallholder farmers has petitioned the Commandant of the Police’s Professional Standards Unit (PSU) over the unprofessional conduct of the Kiryandongo District Police Commander (DPC) Edson Muhangi for allegedly aiding and abetting land grabbing in Nyamuntende village, Kibeka Parish, Kiryandongo Sub County in Kiryandongo district.
PSU is a department within the Uganda Police Force (UPF) established to handle complaints from the general public concerning the misconduct of police personnel and neglect/non-performance of duty among the members of the police. It has the power to take disciplinary measures against Police Officers.
Muhangi is accused of conducting an arbitrary arrest and detention of 2 community members and ten (10) farmers of Nyamuntende in Kiryandongo district in the wee hours of 8th February 2023. He and his agents broke into people’s houses, severely assaulted communities, and caused bodily injuries.
The raid caused the arrest of two (2) community land rights defenders including; Mulekwa David and Mulenga Jackson and ten (10) cattle farmers who among others included, Tumukunde Isaac, Kanoni Vincent, Kanunu Innocent, Musabe Steven, Munyankole Enock, Lokong Gabriel, Tambara Geoffrey, Kagenyi Steven, Mukombozi Frank, and Kuzara Frank. The two farmers (Tumukunde Isaac, and Kanoni Vincent) were later released at Kiryandongo Central Police Station upon the that they are underage.
Mulekwa and Mulenga have been mobilizing the cattle farming community to resist forceful and violent evictions by Somdium Limited Company and its agents.
“We found Mulekwa, one of the defenders with wounds, visible skin marks due to physical assault and bruises, and others. The victims accused Muhangi, the Kiryandongo district police commander of forcefully breaking into their houses, assaulting them, and causing damage to their properties”. Revealed, Arinaitwe Peter, one of the attorneys.
Earlier on the 1st of February, 2023, the community had protested a land grab by Mr. Mbabazi Samuel who ordered his workers to cultivate the community land. Over 50 acres of community, land were forcefully taken by the land grabber’s workers.
According to the community’s lawyers, the illegal arrests and detention of community members are a carefully orchestrated land-grabbing scheme by Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel receiving support from top security officials in the Kiryandongo district.
The petition was copied into the Head Police Land Protection Unit Police Head Quarters Naguru, Chairman Local Council V (5) Kiryadongo District, and the Regional Police Commander Albertine Region.
Witness Radio is informed by lawyers, M/s. Arinaitwe Peter & Co. Advocates, the community being evicted has been on their land for over 30 years. However, in 2017, they applied for a lease of the said Land to Kiryandongo District Land Board through the Directorate of Land Matters State House.
The petition further mentions that “Whereas the community was still awaiting their Application to be processed, they were shocked to establish that the said land had been instead leased to and registered in the names of Isingoma Jufius, Mwesige Simon, John Musokota William, Tumusiime Gerald Wabwire Messenger Gabriel, Ocema Richard and Wiison Shikhama, some of whom were not known to the Complainants.”
When the complainants appealed to the RDC, they were advised to institute proceedings against the said persons and assigned one Mbabazi Samuel to assist them to that effect. The said Mbabazi accordingly filed Civil Suit Noa 46 of 2019 against the said registered proprietors at Masindi High Court challenging the illegal and fraudulent registration, sale, and transfer of the subject land to Maseruka Robert.
While awaiting the progress of the case mentioned, the Complainants were surprised to find that the said Mbabazi, instead of assisting them went into a consent and settled the said suit without their knowledge or consent.
The petition demanded the commandant of the PSU investigate the officer’s conduct and his role in facilitating land-grabbing schemes on land formerly known as Ranch 22.
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