In this video Witness Radio Uganda and GRAIN express pessimism on why development finance from Canada may not be different from other financiers.
Witness Radio Uganda’s Team Leader Jeff Wokulira Ssebagala and GRAIN’s researcher Devlin Kuyek share views on the adverse effects of harmful financing and developments world Wide in an interview with the Co-founder of the Blended Finance Critique Susan Spronk, a Canadian based coalition of civil society organizations, unions and academics that condemns the operations of Blended Finance in Canadian Aid.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Blended finance is the strategic use of development finance for the mobilization of additional finance towards sustainable development in developing countries. The Canadian government is widely promoting blended financing as a form of privatization to meet the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
But civil societies such as Susan’s urge it (blended finance) undermines Canada’s ability to meet its commitments to the established goals of Official Development Assistance (ODA), namely poverty reduction, a central focus of the SDGs.
Statement: The Energy Sector Strategy 2024–2028 Must Mark the End of the EBRD’s Support to Fossil Fuels
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In the statement, the civil society organizations point out that any new support to gas risks locking in outdated energy infrastructure in places that need investments in clean energy the most.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.
Download the statement: https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2023-09/ngo-statement-on-energy-sector-strategy-2024-2028.pdf
The Corporate Capture of African Agriculture
Produced by Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in partnership with the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, Biowatch South Africa, and PELUM Tanzania. This episode will expose the alarming reality of how multinational corporations are influencing Africa’s agricultural future.
In many African communities, women have traditionally held control over agriculture. This episode lays bare the danger posed by the potential loss of this power to corporate interests, a situation which could precipitate widespread hunger. Women are highlighted as the stalwarts preserving the rich traditions of African farming, and their displacement from this role is likened to an existential threat.
The episode shines a spotlight on AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa), launched in 2006, primarily funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was envisioned as a mechanism to halve hunger in 20 African nations and double the income and yields of over 30 million small-scale farmers by 2020. However, instead of delivering on its promises, it appears that hunger has actually escalated by 30% in these countries.
We dissect the underlying flaws in AGRA’s model, arguing that AGRA’s narrative, epitomizes the failure of the so-called “Green Revolution.” The approach emphasizes a narrow concept of productivity, focused on yield enhancement for a limited number of grain types. This methodology overlooks centuries-old farming practices, wisdom and resilience strategies that African farmers have depended on.
Governments, absorbed by this narrative, have established laws and policies that champion this skewed vision of agricultural productivity, promoting the use of “approved” seeds, which must meet strict formal criteria. Traditional farmers’ seeds are ignored and sidelined, leading to a distorted perspective of what truly constitutes a seed.
The focus on profit over people leads to an emphasis on high-value crops, such as maize. The involvement of foreign entities and their seeds bring with them an increasing dependency on these external factors, essentially eroding the sovereignty of the African nations over their seed stock. This state of affairs is likened to a form of neo-colonialism.
Our collective knowledge about seeds, cultivated over centuries, risks being entirely wiped out, and farmers are effectively being marginised. They’re reduced to mere consumers, alienated from the intimate understanding and respect for the seeds they cultivate. This episode urges the empowerment of farmers as a crucial step to breaking free from the corporate dominance over African agriculture.
This episode is a rallying cry to protect these seeds, our traditions, and our sovereignty. When all else fails, our traditional systems, currently sidelined, will be our beacon of hope and our means of survival.
Watch the clip on our YouTube channel and become part of the struggle to resist the corporate takeover of African food systems.
Watch the full video here: The Corporate Capture of African Agriculture
Signs of harmful projects with financing from development institutions are spotted in Uganda…
By Witness Radio Team.
The growth of a country is discerned by great leaders and innovators who see opportunities out of darkness and transform their areas from nothing to success. Those are great leaders whose interest is to see the developments in their countries and the well-being of their citizens.
Every single day, countries all over the world receive investors that acquire loans, grants, and donations to implement mega projects that are seemingly expected to develop host countries. countries and investors borrowing the money Often, countries and investors portray how these projects improve the livelihood of the browbeaten, au contraire, they have left many broken families, poor-dirty homesteads, and shattered dreams.
Uganda is one of those countries, whose citizens have paid a price for reckless or unsupervised and profit-led international investment. In a bid to implement its industrial policy, the country has welcomed both foreign and local investors with interests in the fields of extraction, industrial agriculture, carbon credit tree plantation, mining, infrastructural projects, and many others.
It has received billions of dollars from different financiers including commercial banks, Pension Funds, and International Development Finance Banks or institutions, among others. For instance, the World Bank has invested more than 20 Billion Dollars since 1963 and currently
Every project comes with its own chilling story. More often their stories are unheard by the World. Witness Radio – Uganda surveyed some projects in Uganda. This study revealed agony, illegal evictions, abject poverty, environmental degradation, and loss of life among others, as some of the consequences suffered by the would-be beneficiaries of these international funded projects across the country.
In the capital of Uganda, Kampala, over 1750 families were forcefully evicted from a city suburb, Naguru, for Naguru- Nakawa housing estates. 11 years down the road the project that was highly hyped is to take off on the grabbed land. Pleas from the victims of the eviction to regain their land have all fallen on deaf ears.
About 80km away from Kampala is the island district of Kalangala surrounded by the World’s second-largest lake, Victoria, and known for palm growing. When the palm-oil project was introduced to residents they were given the impression that it would improve their livelihoods and create job opportunities. Instead, it has dumped thousands into poverty after their land was grabbed by BIDCO, a Wilmer international-funded project. People lost land and now work on plantations as casual laborers. The neighboring communities are accusing BIDCO workers of sexual and gender-based violence.
In the South-Western District of Kiryandongo, multinational companies including Agilis Partners Limited, Kiryandongo Sugar Limited, and Great Seasons SMC Limited with funding from The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom, and Common Fund for Commodities among other financiers are forcefully evicting more than 35,000 people. The eviction has been on since 2017.
Workers that worked on a World Bank Project in Soroti, in the far east of the country, are accused of sexually harassing minors. Several young girls were defiled and left pregnant. Despite the government being aware of this none of the pedophiles have been brought to book, the World Bank-funded project in the Eastern Town of Soroti left several underage girls defiled and impregnated.
In late 2020, residents of Kawaala zone II woke up to the hail of armed men and graders evicting and destroying their properties to implement a multimillion-dollar project funded by the World Bank. The project is being implemented by the Kampala Capital city Authority (KCCA) on behalf of the government of Uganda.
The above-listed and other projects, on the other hand, continue to perpetuate violence and judicial harassment against leaders of Project Affected Persons (PAPs) and community land and environmental rights defenders because of their work that resists illegal evictions and destruction of the environment among others.
Although project implementers such as government entities accuse local communities of occupying land targeted for projects illegally, in most cases victim communities have rights over these pieces of land because their settlement on the same land can be traced to have happened generations ago.
No matter how people are negatively impacted being by these harmful projects, financiers continue to release more money to the government and investors. The banks aim at profit margins other than the livelihoods of the people. In Bulebi village, Mbazi parish, Mpunge Sub County in Mukono district, Akon’s futuristic city is about to lead to the eviction of over 1000 residents whose entire lives have been built on their land.
In April last year, American rapper Aliaune Damala Badara well known for his stage name AKON visited Uganda in search of land for constructing the city. On the same business trip, he met President Museveni Yoweri Kaguta and expressed his interest in building a futuristic city with its currency. The president ordered the Ministry of Lands, housing, and urban development to look out for free land for his city.
However, on 7th Jan 2022, the Uganda Land Commission showed the Minister for Lands, Housing, and Urban Development “Hon Judith Nabakooba” land that was proposed for the Akon city. According to the Uganda land commission, the land is Freehold Volume 53 Folio 9 measuring I square mile.
This has sparked outrage amongst the affected as they were never consulted or consented to allow the project in their community. According to community members that Witness Radio interviewed, they said they heard the distressing news of Akon city through the Media.
The community said no official from the ministry has ever approached them about their land giveaway. “Our country is full of land evictions and evictors begin in that way. There has been no official coming on the ground to officially inform us about the project and neither have we heard any official communication of compensation.” Obori said.
Residing in the attractive village surrounded by freshwaters, the community asserts this has been the source of livelihood and advised the government to get alternative land for the City.
Controversies surrounding the land giveaway and ownership of the area still exist. A section of residents have protested and vowed not to surrender their land for the City. They claim to have acquired freehold titles from the Mukono lands board.
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