Land Grabbing: Cases that opened doors for violent land evictions and promoted impunity in Mubende district

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Kaweeri sign post photo (1)             Photo 3

By witnessradio.org

Mubende district being of the oldest district established in 1905, it hadn’t experience until the 20th century when the demand for land at global level had just been experience.

witnessradio.org is bringing full accounts of how violent evictions were carried out against innocent indigenous communities off their land.

First case: On August 18, 2001 the Ugandan army violently expelled over 400 local peasant families – 2,041 inhabitants – from their land in the villages of Kitemba, Luwunga, Kijunga and Kiryamakobe The eviction took place in the district of Mubende in order to lease the land to Kaweri Coffee Plantation Ltd., a full subsidiary of the German Neumann Kaffee Gruppe (NKG) based in Hamburg.

Kaweeri has since used the evicted land to establish the first large-scale coffee plantation in Uganda. The plantation is the largest of its kind in East Africa. The affected communities described the eviction process as brutal and inhuman. Evictees were forced at gunpoint to leave their villages and some of them were beaten.

Five persons died as a direct consequence of the eviction. Buildings were burnt and demolished, including homes, six churches and a private clinic containing medical equipment. Property was looted and crops were destroyed.

Today, the building that previously housed Kitemba’s primary school is used as the headquarters of the Kaweeri Company. A new school building was constructed, but does not have enough class rooms.

Following the eviction the displaced communities suffered an increase of illnesses and deaths. This can be attributed largely to the loss of shelter, access to clean water and health care.

The displaced now have to walk long distances to fetch drinking water because the only well providing clean water is located on the coffee plantation. Water supply of a pipeline which had been installed by Kaweeri after FIAN’s demand is unstable and not sufficient. FIAN is an international human rights organization working for the worldwide implementation of the human right to adequate food

Many of the evictees have been living in makeshift homes bordering the plantation since the eviction. In order to sustain their livelihoods some evictees have found temporary shelter on neighboring land where they practice interim, small-scale farming. However, the small plots of land available for farming are insufficient to provide their families with enough food for the whole year.

Some of the farmers had to accept to work for the coffee plantation on their former ancestral land to generate some income, but the wages are far too low to feed themselves and their families. Many parents can no longer afford to send their children to secondary school. In sum, the forced eviction threw those affected into a very precarious situation. Their human rights to food, water, housing and their rights to access health care and education, laid down in the international Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Human Rights, are severely affected.

Before their displacement, they had been pursuing a variety of economic activities: cultivation of cassava, potatoes, bananas, coffee, maize, passion fruits, avocado, pineapples, livestock and poultry farming,
charcoal burning and brick laying, beer brewing and alcohol distilling, carpentry. Today, the affected families are unable to sustain themselves and feed themselves adequately. The evictees have struggled to assert their rights peacefully through institutional and administrative channels for ten years without remedy. To date, only about 2 per cent of them have been — inadequately — compensated for the eviction and the loss of their property.