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Oxfam Report 2011: How government and investor named bonafide occupants ‘illegal encroachers” to justify the eviction



By Team, as extracted from Oxfam report

Oxfam research indicated that around 7,400 people were living on the Namwasa plantation and at least 15,191 people on the Luwunga plantation.

NFC and government officials have called these people ‘encroachers’ (or ‘illegal encroachers’). Oxfam believes this is a dangerously loaded term because it pre-judges people’s rights and dehumanizes them, making it easier to justify violent tactics. And it is arguably a highly misleading term too, because the people maintain that they did in fact have lawful entitlement to the land and were testing that argument in ongoing legal cases. These claims are resisted by NFC and neither case has been concluded.

In Kiboga, many of the people say they were born on the land, while others say they had lived there since the early 1970s, building up 40 years’ worth of social and communal services and physical infrastructure. Some people say they had bought and sold plots during that time.

In Mubende, the Second World War veterans and their descendants say they were allocated land in recognition of service, while others say they had bought, were gifted, or inherited land in the area since the 1980s. In their legal pleadings, the claimants assert that they are ‘either bona fide, lawful occupants and/or customary tenants and are protected by the constitution of the Republic of Uganda and the land laws of Uganda.’

NFC states that these proceedings, launched against the company, were misdirected since the government, rather than NFC, was responsible for undertaking the evictions. It says that the claims ‘have been taken most seriously and have been the subject of extensive legal counsel and internal inquiry’, and maintains that ‘the cases have failed to appear in court due to the inability of the plaintiffs to assert a legitimate case’.

The Mubende claims, it says, have ‘been confirmed erroneous by the extensive investigation conducted by the third Prime Minister’s office’. NFC base this on an FSC audit, conducted by SGS, which states that the validity of the claims is ‘highly dubious’ and that the company acted responsibly to resolve the issue of encroachment. However, Oxfam has been told by lawyers representing the community members that the cases are still active, and this has been acknowledged by NFC. This means that claims brought by thousands of people remain unresolved.

In both legal cases, the High Court considered that the communities’ concerns were sufficiently urgent and their arguments sufficiently strong to justify granting orders restraining evictions until the full case could be heard in court.

NFC claimed – in its 2011 Project Design Document submitted to the CDM – that people vacated the land in Mubende ‘voluntarily and peacefully’. However, the communities Oxfam spoke to describe the evictions as anything but voluntary or peaceful. People told Oxfam that the army and police were deployed in the area to enforce the evictions and that many people were beaten during the process.

Some villagers also claim that casual labourers whom they believe were employed by NFC joined the police and army in burning homes, destroying crops, and butchering livestock. The pleadings in the claim brought by the Kiboga community allege that NFC ‘purporting to be a licensee of [the NFA], trespassed on the Plaintiffs’ land, destroyed homes, crops, and animals of the Plaintiffs and attempted to evict the Plaintiffs’. They also allege ‘trespass, uncivility, harassment, and abuse’ by NFC and its agents. The Mubende evictees claim that employees of NFC were ‘evicting, harassing, erasing their plantations, demolishing their houses, intimidating, mistreating’ them. News of the evictions, albeit not referring to NFC as the perpetrator, was published in local media and the dispute was described in the communities’ law suits filed in 2009.

NFC firmly denies involvement in any evictions or violence and says ‘there were no incidences of injury, physical violence, or destruction of property during the voluntary vacation process that have been brought to the attention of NFC’. It continues to rely on the FSC audit of the Mubende evictions which states that ‘there were no incidences of injury to the encroachers or forceful eviction reported during this process’. It also states that it received no reports of violence from the District Police Commissioner or the NFA, and that no such incidents were observed by NFC employees. From materials provided by NFC to Oxfam, it does not appear to Oxfam to have conducted its own detailed investigations into any allegations of violence committed during the evictions. It has conceded some concerns about Askar, the private security company it contracted.

In its Project Design Document submitted to the Executive Board of the CDM, NFC noted that ‘surrounding communities sometimes report that the Askar security guards contracted by the company extort money from them’ and that the guards had ‘generated negative perceptions of the company.’ In response, NFC recognised a need to commit to ‘training its own staff internally and will guard against extortion in the future with increased accountability and auditing’. The company says that there were threats to the lives of NFC staff, which prompted a ‘need for protection during the vacation process’.

In the course of its research, Oxfam discovered that in Kiboga – the scene of the first evictions beginning in 2008 – senior NFC representatives met with local officials on 21 August 2008. The meeting agreed that NFC would pay seven million shillings ($2,500) to conduct a ‘population survey’ and, depending on its results, make available at most two square miles (1,280 acres) for five years to the ‘historic occupants’ of the land. In their testimonies, people described to Oxfam that a comprehensive survey did indeed happen. People said they were photographed and the value of their land and assets recorded. They felt that NFC and local officials were making a genuine effort on their behalf.

It seems that the process did not result in resettlement or compensation for the evictees. NFC acknowledges that they commissioned and paid for a survey, carried out by the Kiboga District Planner. Worryingly, they admit that they have not received the final census report, and told Oxfam that they doubted the findings – believing the figure of over 15,000 people to be ‘inflated’. NFC claims it is vital to ‘look behind us to see the imprint our footprints have left behind’, but does not appear to have any data they regard as conclusive about the number of people affected by their operations. IFC Performance Standards, however, require companies to carry out a census with appropriate socio- economic baseline data to identify the persons who will be displaced by the project.

In a letter to Oxfam, NFC describes a series of consultations that took place in the months leading up to the evictions ‘which clearly outlined the conditions under which the vacations should occur, the laws pertaining to land use of central forest reserves, and the timeline to be observed.’ It also claims that the evictions were voluntary. However, Oxfam’s research has revealed consistent testimony from evictees of both districts to the effect that they were not consulted and did not consent to losing their land, homes, and livelihoods. The minutes of the August 2008 meeting between NFC and Kiboga district officials to discuss resettlement of the evictees show that no community representatives were present at that meeting. One community leader explained that the proposal was presented to the community in a public meeting, which was not consultative. The proposal was rejected as unacceptable because too little land was offered and the solution was only temporary.


To be continued…


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:

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Breaking: Three community land rights defenders from Kawaala have been arrested.



Old kampala police where defenders were arrested from .

Breaking: Three community land rights defenders from Kawaala have been arrested.

By Witness Radio team

Police at Old Kampala Regional Police Headquarter have arrested three of the six community land rights defenders from Kawaala Zone II, Kampala suburb, and preferred a fraud charge before being released on bond.

Kasozi Paul, Busobolwa Adam, and Kabugo Micheal got arrested on their arrival before being taken inside interrogation rooms. They were questioned from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM local time and later recorded their statements.

Section 342 of the Penal Code states that forgery is the making of a false document with the intent to defraud or deceive. It carries a three year imprisonment on conviction.

According to lawyers representing victims, defenders are arrested on the orders of the Deputy Resident City Commissioner (RCC) in charge of Rubaga Division Anderson Burora and accused them of fraud.

Resident City Commissioner is a representative of the president in the Capital City at the division level.

The charges are a result of continued resistance by Kawaala community seeking fair compensation and resettlement before Lubigi drainage channel is constructed. Since the first COVID outbreak in 2020, the victim defenders and others have been leading a pushback campaign to stop forced evictions by a multimillion dollars Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-2) funded by World Bank. Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is the implementor of the project.

This project first impacted Kawaala Zone II around 2014, when a channel diversion was constructed. The current planned expansion will widen that channel and require forced evictions across an area at least 70 meters wide and 2.5 km long.

The New Vision, a local daily of June 21st, 2022, quoted Burora accusing Kasozi Paul, one of the community land rights defenders from Kawaala Zone II of being a fraudster.

Witness Radio – Uganda challenges the deputy RCC Burora to produce evidence that pins the defenders on fraud instead of criminalizing the work of defenders.

“We warn Mr. Burora against using police to harass defenders who have openly opposed a project which is causing negative impacts on the community” Adong Sarah, one of the lawyers representing the defenders said.

The defenders got released on police bond as they are expected to report back to the police on Monday, the 18th of July 2022 at 11:00 AM local time.


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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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