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One in three people sleeps on an empty stomach – World Bank Report.

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By Witness Radio Team.

In a recent report by the World Bank, staggering statistics have revealed that nearly one in three people, especially in developing countries, face precarious access to food. This reality poses a significant obstacle to progress on a global scale, hindering advancements in various areas.

The shocking statistics were revealed in the World Bank’s 2024 Global Economic Prospects (GEP) report released Tuesday, 9th January. The Global Economic Prospects is a World Bank Group Flagship Report that examines global economic developments and prospects with a special focus on emerging markets and developing economies.

Mr. Indermit Gill, the Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank Group emphasized that in many developing countries, particularly among the poorest, nearly one out of every three people will face tenuous access to food.

“Near-term growth will remain weak, leaving many developing countries especially the poorest stuck in a trap: with paralyzing levels of debt and tenuous access to food for nearly one out of every three people. That would obstruct progress on many global priorities.” Mr. Indermit revealed.

The issue of food insecurity remains a formidable challenge, not only in Uganda but across the globe. The June 2023 edition of the Bank’s Global Economic Prospect report also, highlighted the intensification of food insecurity in Low-Income Countries.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2023 report estimates a rise in severely food insecure individuals globally from 624 million in 2017 to a staggering 900 million in 2022.

However, amid these challenges, the report identifies an opportunity to tackle the issue of food insecurity. It emphasizes the need for increased global cooperation to address the urgent challenges caused by mounting food insecurity.

Witness Radio – Uganda attributes the problem to the growing demand for land in developing countries for Land-Based Investments (LBIs). These investments most times target land for local and indigenous and displace them without providing alternative settlement and compensation.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, says small-scale farmers contribute to 80 percent of the World’s food basket thus if supported would contribute enough food for the World.

Numerous individuals are facing forceful eviction under the pretext of large-scale farming aimed at boosting food production and other profit-driven, large-scale land-based investments. The above-mentioned cases are just a glimpse of the numerous incidents occurring. According to Witness Radio’s monitoring desk, the organization’s website logs and investigates over two cases related to violent land evictions for investments every week in Uganda.

Research from Witness Radio Uganda and other civil societies such as Grain and Oxfam among others has uncovered that investments in multinational companies or investors often bring about adverse effects. Many people are displaced, tortured, criminalized, sexually assaulted, and among others, all in the name of development and paving the way for large-scale business investments.

Take a look at Kiryandongo district, where close to 40,000 people were forcefully evicted, and currently live a destitute life by four multinational companies, just to carry out large-scale farming of coffee, maize, soya beans, and sugarcanes, which are all solely for export paradoxically worsening hunger.

Troublingly, the World Bank’s sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has recently contributed to the funding of one of these projects, despite being aware that the funded project is linked to violations of human rights within the affected communities.

While the fate of the 40,000 displaced individuals in Kiryandongo remains uncertain, a similar tale unfolds in central Uganda, specifically in Mubende district. Here, a staggering 20,000 people faced eviction to make room for monoculture tree-planting activities orchestrated by the UK-based New Forests company. Adding to the distress, in a bid to increase oil palm production, Bidco Uganda, a joint venture formed between Wilmar International, Josovina Commodities, and Bidco Oil Refineries evicted more than 100 people to give way for palm trees in the Kalangala district.

In an interview with Witness Radio – Uganda with Mr. Beryaija Benon who lost 10.1 hectares of land to Great Seasons smc limited which grows coffee in the Kiryandongo district, his response was kicked off by uncertainty. He explained that he and his family of 10 are navigating an unclear path to sustenance. Despite relying on God’s Grace, Mr. Beryaija holds resentment toward a multinational company that disrupted his life. In the past, he utilized his land for cultivating crops such as maize, cassava, and bananas, in addition to raising over 50 pigs, 75 chickens and 45 ducks. The proceeds from these endeavors not only earned him millions but also provided sufficient for his family.

Mr. Beryaija, a community land rights defender who was forcibly evicted from Jerusalem in Kiryandongo, is actively mobilizing his communities to reclaim the land taken by multinational companies in the Kiryandongo district. Due to concerns for his safety, he has relocated to the city center to earn a living for his family.

“Imagine buying food daily in a city center for a local man like me, who used to feed my family with fresh produce from my land and earned millions from the surplus. Now, I live like a pauper since my land was forcibly taken from me. I spend at least 20,000 Ugx every day on family food, translating to 60,000 Ugx monthly, despite having no stable source of income. I now have to toil casually every day just to earn enough for us to eat,” revealed the defender.

If the ongoing trend of irresponsible land-based investments, particularly in creating large-scale agricultural land perpetuated by powerful and resourceful global companies with support from government leaders continues an abated. The second goal of the 17, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development zero hunger will remain unattainable.

Witness Radio observes that under the call for global cooperation and investments, investors and their companies should protect and support smallholder farmers and prioritize people, the planet, and profits, not the reverse, rather than promoting large-scale land-based investments that threaten livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

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Appellate Division of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) to hear an Appeal filed by CSOs which seeks to reinstate a petition against the construction of the EACOP project tomorrow.

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By Witness Radio team.

In a stirring development for environmental and human rights advocacy in East Africa, the Appellate Division of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) is set to hear an appeal that four East African civil society organizations (CSOs) filed to re-instate the petition challenging the construction of East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.

The organizations spearheading this appeal include the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) from Uganda, the Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT) also from Uganda, Natural Justice (NJ) based in Kenya, and the Centre for Strategic Litigation (CSL) from Tanzania.

This appeal comes in response to a ruling handed down in November 2023 by the Court of First Instance at the EACJ, which dismissed the case on ground that it was filed out of time.

The pipeline, spanning 1443 kilometers from Uganda to Tanzania, has been met with fierce opposition from many groups and environmental activists all over the world, who argue that it violates key East African and international treaties, as well as laws safeguarding human rights, environmental conservation, biodiversity, and the protection of Lake Victoria.

According to activists, the EACOP project is traversing through sensitive ecosystems, including protected areas and internationally significant wetlands, posing threats to biodiversity and ecosystems that local communities depend on for their sustenance posing grave environmental risks.

Furthermore, the project also termed as a curse by the majority of the would-be beneficiaries due to displacement of thousands of individuals from their ancestral lands, and human rights violations/abuses.

Despite the setback of the initial dismissal, the four organizations pressed forward their pursuit of justice.

In their appeal, groups contend that the Court of First Instance erred in its ruling, and want the Appellate Division to reinstate their case.

Mr. Dickens Kamugisha, the CEO of AFIEGO, expressed that they remain resolute in their pursuit of justice through the East African Court of Justice and other courts.

He further mentions that millions of East Africans have high hopes in the regional court to protect their socio-economic and environmental rights and help them continue advancing their aspirations for climate change mitigation and clean energy.

Mr. Kamugisha added that they maintained hope that the court would prioritize the rights of East Africans over the profit-seeking endeavors of large corporations, even if it came at the expense of people.

According to the Executive Director of Natural Justice, Ms. Farida Aliwa, the EACOP and related projects have already led to serious human rights abuses, including evictions, assaults and environmental destruction

“In the interests of justice, we believe that this case needs to be heard at the East African Court of Justice, as a positive outcome will be good for the East African people and planet. The Court has the power to affirm that the governments, investors, and companies violate both national and international laws and that the EACOP project must be stopped. We trust that the East African Court of Justice will see this, and decide to hear the merits of this case.” She revealed.

The case will be heard tomorrow 9:00 East Africa Standard Time at the Court of Appeal of the East African Court of Justice.

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PFZW scraps funding from Total and others for failure to transition into a cleaner energy mix.

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By Witness Radio team.

In a significant move towards aligning its investments with environmental goals, Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW) has announced its decision to disinvest from fossil fuel giants such as Shell and Total.

This decision comes after two years of intensive engagement with fossil fuel companies, during which PFZW sought to encourage the development of climate transition plans in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

PFZW is the pension fund for the care and welfare sector based in the Netherlands. PFZW invests the contributions paid by employers and employees to achieve a high, stable, and responsible return over the long term at an acceptable level of risk. The fund invests globally in the investment categories of variable-yield securities and fixed-income securities. The pension fund had a total of € 217 billion of assets under management at the end of 2022.

According to PFZW, 310 oil and gas companies failed to demonstrate a clear transition to a cleaner energy mix.

Some of the big oil and gas companies that PFZW parted ways with are Total, Shell, and BP among others. These major corporations have frequently faced criticism for investing in fossil fuel projects.

For example, Total, among other projects putting the World climate at risk, is advocating for the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) and Tilenga projects in western Uganda. Despite, environmental experts warning of potential environmental damage, Total has persisted in heavily funding these projects.

PFZW’s disinvestment strategy is part of its broader commitment to sustainability and responsible investing. The PFZW fund has sold its stakes in 310 oil and gas companies, totaling 2.8 billion euros, for failure to demonstrate a clear transition to cleaner energy sources.

During this period, dialogue with oil and gas companies was significantly intensified to encourage them to produce verifiable transition plans that support the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Joanne Kellermann, chair of the board of PFZW said that “the intensive shareholder dialogue over the past two years with the oil and gas sector on climate has made it clear to us that most fossil fuel companies are not prepared to adapt their business models to ‘Paris’. While the largest companies in this sector do invest in sustainable forms of energy, the switch from fossil to low carbon is not nearly fast enough. Incidentally, this reflects the slow pace we see globally in the transition to renewable energy.”

According to PFZW, seven listed oil and gas companies with a compelling climate transition strategy will remain part of the portfolio. This contributes to the goal of investing more in companies that play a positive role in the global energy transition.

Despite parting ways with numerous fossil fuel companies, PFZW will continue to invest in seven oil and gas companies that have demonstrated a commitment to transitioning towards renewable energy sources. These companies, including Cosan S.A., Galp Energia, and Neste Oyj, are regarded as frontrunners in the energy sector due to their efforts to reduce carbon emissions and invest in low-carbon technologies.

“The seven companies we will continue to invest in are the only ones that show a switch is possible. At the same time, it is disappointing that there are only seven. We encourage the biggest players in the oil and gas sector to also accelerate the switch to a cleaner energy mix.” She revealed.

Furthermore, to significantly increase its investments in companies focused on improving the climate and energy transition, allocating two billion euros over the next two years to companies with measurable impacts on climate and the energy transition reflecting PFZW’s dedication to achieving a climate-neutral investment portfolio by 2050, with interim goals such as a 50% absolute carbon reduction by 2030 for equities, liquid credit, and real estate.

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Museveni grants avocado growing investor 5 square miles of refugee camp land

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President Museveni has granted investors permission to use part of the land, where Kyaaka One and Kyaaka Two refugee camps sit, for avocado growing.

Museveni, in his letter dated January 30, 2024, directed the minister of relief, disaster preparedness and refugees, Hon. Hillary Onek, to secure 10 square miles of land (2,600 hectares) off the two refugee camps of Kyaaka one and Kyaaka two.

The president says half of the land will go to avocado-growing investors, while the other half will be used to develop an industrial part in the area.

“One purpose is for an Investor to use 5 Square Miles and develop a plantation of Avocadoes, with value addition facilities for the Avocadoes being part of the package. Avocado oil is important for use in the manufacturing of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The other square miles will be used to develop an industrial Park for that area,” the letter reads in part.

Museveni says the industrial park and avocado plantation will create approximately 200,000 jobs for Ugandans.

“An industrial Park in that area would create a lot of jobs, and so would a big plantation of avocadoes, apart from the other benefits for the Country. Namanve Industrial Park will create 200,000 jobs when it is fully developed,” the letter adds.

Museveni also noted that he had been informed that part of the land was invaded by land grabbers and promised to visit the area in April 2024, directing that the 10 square miles be secured from the available land.

“I intend to come and meet those people who invaded a well known Government land in April 2024. In the meantime, I want the 10 Square Miles from the surviving Refugee Camp of Kyaaka. That is the size of 11 Square Miles“, he said.

He says the industrial Parks would give Uganda the tax money to support both the citizens and the Refugees.

Original Source: Chimp reports  Via farmlandgrab.org

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