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Government resettles over 10,000 Ugandans in Kikuube district

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The exercise will include verification of names of encroachers, plot demarcation, allocation of plots and litigation in case of complaints and the beneficiaries will get between 2.5 and 5 acres of land.

Government has allocated land to over 1,800 households in Kyangwali Sub-county, Kikuubo district to end a protracted dispute between government and the locals.

The resettlement exercise is in accordance with the January 2016 verification report that recommended resettlement of approximately 10,000 Ugandans who had encroached on Kyangwali refugee land.

The First Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Moses Ali said the refugee resettlement land has been reduced by seven square miles to accommodate the Ugandan encroachers.

He made the remarks while re-launching the resettlement exercise of affected people in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement in Kikuube district over the weekend.

Ali said it has taken government two years to have all issues resolved in regard to ownership of this land which comprised of Kyangwali refugee settlement.

“The delays caused by a few individuals among you for selfish interest, majority of affected people have continued to suffer with no solution to the problem of landlessness until today,” Ali said.

He blamed the affected people most especially their leaders for continuing to tell lies about this refugee settlement land while they knew the truth about it.

“We gave you enough time to test the bitter pill of surviving on lies and hopefully now you are reformed and ready to cooperate with government to find a lasting solution to this landlessness problem once and for all,” Ali said.

He said as the affected people, they should appreciate that the more you prolong this activity of allocating land, the more expensive you make it for government to solve the problem, adding that they should have realized that they are the end losers in this matter.

Ali explained that once government concludes the resettlement exercise, communities shall be supported with investments in building three primary schools.

He called upon the technical team managing the exercise to ensure professionalism in handling the resettlement exercise.

“Ministry of Lands, we have trust in your technical expertise please do not let us down. This exercise must be concluded be concluded this time in order to liberate our people from servitude,” Ali said.

It will also construct one secondary school, health centre, water for domestic consumption and production including farm implements.

State Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness, Musa Ecweru, explained that during this phase of resettlement, some funds were earmarked for opening and grading 31km of community roads. He said procurement processes for the particular investment that is in final stage.

State Minister for Lands Percis Namuganza, extended government appreciation to Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom and the people of Bunyoro in general regarding the humanitarian act of giving this land for settling people in distress such as refugees.

“As you can now witness part of the land is being parceled out for Ugandans in the same distressful conditions,”Namuganza said.

She called upon the leadership of Kikuube district to take advantage of this government gesture and support people to rebuild their lives.

The exercise will include verification of names of encroachers, plot demarcation, allocation of plots and litigation in case of complaints. The beneficiaries will get between 2.5 and 5 acres of land.

Charles Bafaki, the Principle Resettlement Officer at the Office of the Prime Minister asked the enforcement agencies to ensure that law and order prevails.

Original Post: New Vision

DEFENDING LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS

Statement: The Energy Sector Strategy 2024–2028 Must Mark the End of the EBRD’s Support to Fossil Fuels

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is due to publish a new Energy Sector Strategy before the end of 2023. A total of 130 civil society organizations from over 40 countries have released a statement calling on the EBRD to end finance for all fossil fuels, including gas.

From 2018 to 2021, the EBRD invested EUR 2.9 billion in the fossil energy sector, with the majority of this support going to gas. This makes it the third biggest funder of fossil fuels among all multilateral development banks, behind the World Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank.

The EBRD has already excluded coal and upstream oil and gas fields from its financing. The draft Energy Sector Strategy further excludes oil transportation and oil-fired electricity generation. However, the draft strategy would continue to allow some investment in new fossil gas pipelines and other transportation infrastructure, as well as gas power generation and heating.

In the statement, the civil society organizations point out that any new support to gas risks locking in outdated energy infrastructure in places that need investments in clean energy the most. At the same time, they highlight, ending support to fossil gas is necessary, not only for climate security, but also for ensuring energy security, since continued investment in gas exposes countries of operation to high and volatile energy prices that can have a severe impact on their ability to reach development targets. Moreover, they underscore that supporting new gas transportation infrastructure is not a solution to the current energy crisis, given that new infrastructure would not come online for several years, well after the crisis has passed.

The signatories of the statement call on the EBRD to amend the Energy Sector Strategy to

  • fully exclude new investments in midstream and downstream gas projects;
  • avoid loopholes involving the use of unproven or uneconomic technologies, as well as aspirational but meaningless mitigation measures such as “CCS-readiness”; and
  • strengthen the requirements for financial intermediaries where the intended nature of the sub-transactions is not known to exclude fossil fuel finance across the entire value chain.

Source: iisd.org

Download the statement: https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2023-09/ngo-statement-on-energy-sector-strategy-2024-2028.pdf

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Pushing back: The EACOP victim community rushes to court seeking reinstatement onto their land and compensation.

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By Witness Radio team

One of the East Africa Crude Oil Project (EACOP) victim communities in Hoima district has run to Hoima high court challenging a forceful and violent eviction which pushed them off their land, asserting that it was very illegal and unconstitutional and subjected them to degrading treatment.

The Kapapi community, as commonly referred to, is composed of both pastoralists and cultivators that were lawfully living in Waaki North, Kapapi Central, Waaki South, Runga, and Kiryatete villages in Kapapi and Kiganja sub-counties in Hoima district since the 1950s.

In a February 2021 report from Total Energies Uganda, titled “Tilenga Project – Resettlement Action Plan 4,” it identified Kapapi, Runga, Waaki, and Kiryatete villages as areas that will be affected by the proposed Tilenga Feeder Pipeline Component (RAP 4).

The Tilenga feeder pipeline corridor is approximately 95 km long originates from the Tilenga Project Central Processing Facility (CPF), about 8 km northeast of Buliisa town in Buliisa District and 5 km south of the Albert Nile. The purpose and the need for the Tilenga feeder pipeline, according to Total Energies, is to deliver crude oil to the planned refinery in Kabaale and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), as the Government nominee, holds a 15% participating interest in the Tilenga project; Total Energies E&P Uganda B.V., the operator, holds 56.67% while the other partner, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Uganda Limited holds 28.33% shares.

On 10th February 2023 at 1:00 am local time, unidentified dozens of men cladding Uganda Police Force (UPF) and Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) uniforms, together with armed guards from Magnum, a private security company violently evicted over 2,500 locals from 1294.99 hectares of land with no compensation or resettlement, looted animals and food stuffs. The eviction was executed without a court order.

Through their lawyers Arinaitwe Peter & Company Advocates, Mulega Eria and 13 others on behalf of the pastoralists community in a Civil Suit no. 78 of 2023, sued a UPDF Brigadier General. Nabasa Peter, Bogere Patrick, a Hoima Rural District Police Commander, Kyakashari Micheal, the Deputy Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Hoima district, one Gafayo Ndawula William, Kiiza Nathan Byarugonjo, Oketcha Micheal, Oromo Luzira, Magnum Security company limited, Muhwezi Aston, William Kiiza, Kyamanywa Alex, Wilber Kiiza, Hoima district Land Board and Commissioner land registration among others.

In a second matter, Civil Suit no. 79 of 2023, Ajaruva Uchida and 112 others on behalf of the crop growers community, sued a UPDF Brigadier General Nabasa Peter, Bogere Patrick, a Hoima Rural District Police Commander, Kyakashari Micheal, a the Deputy Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Hoima district, a one Gafayo William Ndawula, Kizza Nathan Byarugonjo, Oketcha Micheal, Asimwe Moses Byangire, Oromo Luzira and Magnum security company limited among others.

Both communities are accusing the latter of carrying out a forceful and violent eviction from their land, alleging a disregard of lawful procedures driven by a desire to profit from EACOP related projects.

In both suits, both communities demand for several remedies from the courts of law, such as a permanent injunction restraining all defendants and their agents from further interference with their land, an order for an immediate return onto their land, and compensation.

Arinaitwe Peter, one of the lawyers, expressed optimism that Courts would hear the cries of the Kapapi people, who have endured destitution, significant suffering, and displacement, with some living in internally displaced people’s camps following the brutal eviction.

“We are optimistic that the honorable Court will listen to the cries of the Kapapi people. These people are destitute, they have suffered immensely, and some of them are currently residing in internally displaced people’s camps due to a brutal eviction carried out by the individuals mentioned in different suits. Our purpose here is to ensure that their voices are heard, have justice served, and that they are immediately returned to their land while the legal case is ongoing.” Said Mr. Arinaitwe.

Mr. Kataza Samuel, one of the community environmental defenders, called on Hoima Court to expedite the hearing of their matters since many of the residents are undergoing hardships as a result of forceful evictions.

“Our people are enduring immense suffering, with many families torn apart by poverty. They are scattered across in different parts of the country, struggling for survival, while some are forced to live with relatives. Unfortunately, essential services like shelter, food, healthcare, and education for their children remain elusive. We are here to seek justice for our violated rights, and, therefore, we implore Court to intervene urgently,” He added.

As we write this story, the grabbed land continues to be heavily guarded by Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) Soldiers and Magnum Security Company guards.

Court is yet to fix hearing dates for both suits.

 

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A multi-billion project funded by AfDB and NDF is furthering poverty and food insecurity in Paten community targeted for a development project.

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By Witness Radio team

The Wadelai irrigation scheme project funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Nordic Development Fund (NDF) has turned out to be a curse to the Paten community targeted to benefit from a development project as individual members of the local community for some time now spend their precious time pushing back forced land eviction and human rights violations perpetrated by the army and police force personnel brought to guard the project.

The Wadelai irrigation scheme, under the Farm Income Enhancement and Forest Conservation Programme –Phase 2 (FIEFOC-2Project) is financed with an African Development Bank (ADB) loan of USD 76.70 million. The Project is co-financed by the Nordic Development Fund with a grant of Euro 5.00 million, and the Government of Uganda’s counterpart contribution of USD 9.13 million. The overall cost of this project is USD 91.43 million (341,576,079,900.00 Ugandan Shillings), approved in January 2016.

According to documents on the African Development Bank’s website, the Wadelai Irrigation Scheme covers a total area of about 1365 hectares (ha) including the proposed extension area of Paten. The original design of the Wadelai Irrigation Scheme included a portion of the command area of 365 hectares which, was owned by Ragem Prison (government facility). During the Mid-Term Review and upon the request of the Paten Community through their district head, the Executing Agency (Ministry of Water and Environment) proposed to substitute the same land area (365 ha) with Paten community land which the Bank agreed to.

The project objective is to improve household incomes, food security, and climate resilience through sustainable natural resources management and agricultural enterprise development. However, residents have expressed concerns that it is pushing them further into a state of extreme poverty.

To the contrary, the “development project” is being fought by locals to save their land which is the source of their livelihood.

The fight to defend Paten’s land rights from being grabbed by Wadelai irrigation scheme project has been marked by courage, and those who have stood against the project have endured violence orchestrated by project implementers.

The Paten Clan, an integral part of the Shilluk Luo tribe, traces its roots to a migration that took place between the 14th and 16th centuries from South Sudan. Initially, they found their first settlement in the Acholi region. However, their journey continued as they crossed both the Omee River and the formidable River Nile, eventually arriving at their current homeland, which they aptly named Paten.

The heart of Paten’s identity is in its language, as the inhabitants predominantly speak Jonam. Their way of life is deeply intertwined with their environment, primarily revolving around fishing and farming as their main sources of livelihood.

This resilient clan is composed of  seven (7) villages namely Adiri, Paten Upper and Lower, Paten Central, Borowio, Oborowio central and Paten Ocayo, each contributing to the rich tapestry of Paten’s culture and heritage. Located within the Pakwach district, Paten enjoys a picturesque setting on the western bank of the majestic River Nile. The clan’s geographical boundaries are defined by the Oraa River to the north, Madi Ayabu to the east, the Ocayo Clan to the west, and the Kaal Ragem chiefdom to the south. In this lush and historically significant region, the Paten Clan has thrived for generations, nurturing its traditions and cherishing its ancestral lands.

This community is known for its unique traditional mud and thatch homes, which serve as a proud representation of their rich cultural heritage. These dwellings, showcasing local craftsmanship, seamlessly integrate with the environment, underscoring the clan’s dedication to preserving their ancestral traditions.

The Clan accuses financiers and government of Uganda for forcibly taking their land through violent means. According to them, the government has been expanding the Wadelai Irrigation Scheme in the sub-county since 2020 and in the process, they allege that their land is being seized without compensation or being offered alternative settlements.

At least 16 Paten clan members fell victim to violence when they were shot and wounded. These grievous injuries were inflicted on them by soldiers from the Uganda Police and Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) who had been deployed by the Resident District Commissioner, district chairperson, and Chief Administrative Officer of the Pakwach district local government.

One of the victims, whose identity remains confidential due to concerns about potential retaliation, recounted to Witness Radio Uganda that on “August 9th, 2021, UPDF and police officers, under the command of Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Sunday Eseru, arrived on their land with a team of people from the Pakwach district. They began surveying and clearing communities’ land without prior notification. In response, the following morning on 10th August 2021, “we went to the site to plant trees, demonstrating our commitment to utilizing our land. The heavily guarded RDC, returned and got us planting trees in our land. We explained that this is our land, which was being forcibly taken from us without compensation. The RDC then ordered his soldiers to take action against us for interfering with their project. This marked the beginning of the confrontation.” A victim revealed.

According to eye-witnesses, about 20 community members were shot at using rubber bullets and wounded by security personnel.

“As if the shooting was not enough, victims were denied medical treatment at a government hospital in Pakwach district. Police refused to give us a medical check-up form known as police form three (3) to be used while diagnosing victims of violence. Sadly, area police refused to register our case when we went to report the attack” one of the victims said.

On August 11th, 2021, another distressing incident occurred when four women, one of whom was pregnant, were severely beaten and forced to sleep in dirty and stagnant water because they attempted to access their land to fetch water.

Adding to the already troubling circumstances, on August 16th, 2021, two clan members who also served as civil servants within the Pakwach district local government faced dire consequences when they were interdicted from their position.

Residents continue to live in fear as their land remains heavily guarded by government officers, severely limiting their access to and use of their own land.

The Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Pakwach, Mr. Sunday Eseru maintains that the issue was resolved three months ago when representatives from the African Development Bank and the Ministry of Water and Environment visited. According to the commissioner, during this visit, the concerned parties were taken to Gulu, where they engaged in discussions and negotiations.

Furthermore, a Cooperation Agreement was signed to formalize the agreed-upon terms and conditions. The commissioner asserts that, to date, no formal complaints or disputes have been raised regarding the project.

“Every project affected person was compensated, and if there is anybody who hasn’t compensated, they will be compensated because there is nobody that government can’t compensate.” The commissioner said during an interview with Witness Radio on August 27, 2023.

Efforts to contact the African Development Bank for confirmation of the RDC’s statements proved to be challenging.

Members of the Paten Clan however maintain that they have not received any compensation and argue that the government has imposed the project on their land through coercive methods.

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