Connect with us


Ugandan families displaced and left to struggle by Chinas’s mega dam



Construction of the Karuma dam has deprived hundreds of people in Uganda’s Nile delta of their land, homes, and livelihoods. Many people have been waiting a decade for relocation, with some left to live under high voltage transmission lines for lack of safer alternatives. 

From a height above the riverbank, you can watch the massive concrete dam harness the powerful waters of the Victoria Nile River. When the hydropower plant is completed by Chinese company Sinohydro Corporation Limited, it is expected to produce 600 megawatts for the Ugandan electricity market.

The Karuma dam project has been delayed several times, forcing the government to start paying off the loan to the Export-Import Bank of China.

The hillside upstream of the river is one of the few places where you can see the whole power station. The transmission substation and part of the riverbank are fenced off and guarded by the military. Two tall surveillance towers have been built to keep intruders outside the area.

After the construction work started ten years ago, the people in Awoo village lost most of the land they had cultivated for generations, and access to the river where they fished. Out of desperation, some of the villagers started to produce gravel from a large mound of rocks excavated from the river basin and dumped next to their homes during the dam’s construction. Men and women make the hazardous 30-meter climb up the deposit to collect the stones, which are then cracked manually with hammers and sold to construction companies.

Out of desperation, some villagers started to produce gravel from a large mound of rocks excavated from the river basin.

A report by Both ENDS describes how land evictions from Awoo village were forceful, with bulldozers bringing down houses, fruit trees and other properties as the community watched. A family was reportedly forced out of their house, which was then set on fire. After that, the community had no choice but to accept the limited compensation offered to them and determined by the Ugandan state.

Today, those who do not make a living from cracking stones have few options other than doing hard labour for the power company. Normally they earn UGX 8000 a day (about US$2) for cleaning or heavy concrete work, according to the interviews by Just Finance International. This salary is only enough to buy food, they claim.

When the project first started a decade ago, they were promised relocation to somewhere better and fair compensation for their land. This has not happened. We observed several families living under the high voltage transmission line that connects the power station to the grid which is both hazardous for the health and risky. Still, people claim they have nowhere else to go, a failure that has been flagged as a weakness by Uganda’s auditor general.

Chinese state-owned company Sinohydro started construction of Karuma in 2013, as well as three high-voltage transmission lines. The infrastructure is a keystone project in the government’s plan to electrify Uganda, where only 22.1 percent of the population have access to the grid. The Karuma hydro plant is expected to power homes, industry, and public buildings such as schools and hospitals.

The project has been delayed several times, forcing the government to start paying off the $1.7-billion loan to the Export-Import Bank of China before any electricity was produced. The hydro plant is now generating power but not at its full capacity.

The communities around the dam had high expectations when construction started. The government promised well paid work, roads, a school, a health center, access to water, electricity and a fishpond.

However, community members interviewed by Just Finance, claim that little has been completed. Not even the promise of healthcare access was fulfilled. The closest hospital is in Gulu, 65 km from the village. Another health center was constructed by Sinohydro in the town Masindi, 112 kilometers away from the villages. This investment is claimed to benefit the communities affected by the dam, but according to Just Finance sources, it serves the military and not the general public.

Furthermore, the promised water supply is still missing and the garbage collection center for Karuma township has also not been completed.

A church has been built. A primary school has been renovated. And a mosque is being renovated although the building has been rejected by the Muslim community because of its poor build quality. The communities still have no access to the roads and, ironically, no one in the communities visited by Just Finance, had access to electricity.

In Ayuda village, not far from Awoo, the situation is desperate. Despite all the promises from the government and the Chinese company, living conditions have deteriorated. Many families in the village can no longer afford school fees, and they have to walk a long distance to fetch water from springs in the jungle.

Men and women make the hazardous 30-meter climb up the deposit to collect the stones, which are then cracked manually with hammers.

“Our life has been overturned”, a woman told Just Finance.

According to the villagers, more than 100 acres of land have been taken from them, with just one acre remaining. The community say they were offered 6 million UGX (1600 USD) for the land, an amount they all thought was far too low, but nobody listened, and they had to take the case to court. The process is ongoing after 10 years.

One woman told Just Finance that she used to sell her harvest on the market and earn good money, but now she has nothing to sell. To survive, they have to work for the Chinese company. It is hard labour, and her salary of UGX 8000 per day is only enough to buy food, she said.

The Ayuda village had more than 150 graves in the project area. Construction works have destroyed many of them, according to people in the community. No one got any compensation to move the graves.

“It is an evil omen when the graves are destroyed. It will affect our community mentally for generations to come,” one woman said.

The community members find it difficult to communicate with people from the Chinese company. There are no translators, and the government does not help them. This has caused misunderstanding and mistrust.

One woman claimed she had 8 acres of land before the hydro plant was built, of which 5 were farmland. But when her land was evaluated by the government, they wrote that she only had 3 acres.

“It was a fraud, and somebody else got the money. I have no money left and I have no land anymore. Instead of creating development this has worsened our situation and destroyed our community,” the woman said.

Just Finance International has contacted Sinohydro Corporation Limited and Ugandan electricity company, Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL), but to date they have not yet provided a response.


Continue Reading


Almost 2,000 land and environmental defenders were killed between 2012 and 2022 for simply standing up to protect our planet and us all from the accelerating climate crisis.



For the past 11 years, Global Witness has documented and denounced waves of threats, violence and killings of land and environmental defenders across the world, and 2022 marks the beginning of our second decade documenting lethal attacks. The world has changed dramatically since we started documenting these in 2012. But one thing that has not changed is the relentlessness of the killings.

Last year, at least 177 defenders lost their lives for protecting our planet, bringing the total number of killings to 1,910 since 2012. At least 1,390 of these killings took place between the adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12 December 2015 and 31 December 2022.

On average, a defender was killed every other day in 2022, just as was the case in 2021. Although the overall figure is slightly lower last year than in 2021, when we recorded 200 killings, this does not mean that the situation has significantly improved. The worsening climate crisis and the ever-increasing demand for agricultural commodities, fuel and minerals will only intensify the pressure on the environment – and those who risk their lives to defend it. Increasingly, non-lethal strategies such as criminalisation, harassment and digital attacks are also being used to silence defenders.

The situation in Latin America remains particularly concerning. In 2022, the region accounted for 88% of killings – an ever-growing majority of the world’s cases. A total of 11 of the 18 countries where we documented cases in 2022 were in Latin America.

Colombia tops the global ranking with 60 murders in yet another dire year for the country. This is almost double the number of killings compared to 2021, when 33 defenders lost their lives. Once again, Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant communities, small-scale farmers and environmental activists have been viciously targeted. Yet there is hope; when Gustavo Petro, the first leftist president in contemporary Colombia, took office in August 2022, he promised social transformation and enhanced protection for defenders. No government had committed to that before.

In Brazil, 34 defenders lost their lives, compared to 26 in 2021. Defenders in Brazil faced relentless hostility from former president Jair Bolsonaro’s government, whose policies have opened up the Amazon to exploitation and destruction, have undermined environmental institutions and have fuelled illegal invasions of indigenous lands.

An illegal mining operation in the Yanomami Indigenous territory, Brazil, 2023. Alan Chaves/AFP via Getty Images

Mexico, the country with the highest number of killings in 2021, saw a significant drop from 54 murders in 2021 to 31 in 2022. At least 16 of those killed were Indigenous peoples, and four were lawyers. The overall situation in Mexico remained dire for land and environmental defenders, and non-lethal attacks – including intimidation, threats, forced displacement, harassment and criminalisation – continued to seriously hamper their work.

With 14 murders in 2022, Honduras has the world’s highest per-capita killings. The country’s first-ever female president, Xiomara Castro, has committed to protecting defenders. Yet early trends from 2023 point to ongoing rife violence, with reports of killings and non-lethal attacks across the country.

Read more: globalwitness

Continue Reading


Africa Climate Summit 2023 Set to Surrender the Continent to Green Colonialism




August 30, 2023; 12:00 AM PDT

Media Contact:, +1 510-469-5228

  • Officials from African governments, international institutions, and the private sector will converge at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, September 4 – 6, 2023, to shape the course of Africa’s climate action.
  • With carbon offset schemes and tree plantations set to take center stage — despite their devastating impact along with the corruption and fraud that plague voluntary carbon markets — the Oakland Institute denounces the alarming direction taken by the event.
  • An examination of the African Forestry Impact Platform (AFIP), bankrolled by European development finance institutions, Japanese oil interests, and an Australian investment firm, lays bare the green colonialism that President Ruto of Kenya is promoting on the continent.

Oakland, CA — With carbon offset schemes and tree plantations set to take center stage at the Africa Climate Summit (ACS) and Africa Climate Week (ACW) — despite their devastating social and environmental impacts and the prevailing corruption and fraud within the voluntary carbon markets — a new report from the Oakland Institute, Green Colonialism 2.0: Tree Plantations and Carbon Offsets in Africa, denounces the alarming direction taken by the Summit. Starting on September 4, 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya, the two events aim to establish a common position for Africa on the climate crisis for the upcoming COP 28 conference in Dubai, slated for December 2023.

The outcome will have significant implications, given the ACS and ACW — both organized by the government of Kenya — are expected to shape the trajectory of climate action for the continent. The focus and intentions of the events, centered on “leveraging” Africa’s abundant “assets” to drive “green growth and climate finance solutions,” raise serious concerns. “This approach only paves the way for further resource extraction while sidelining the rights and interests of local and Indigenous communities,” said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute.

Bankrolled by European development finance institutions, Japanese oil interests, and an Australian investment firm, the African Forestry Impact Platform (AFIP), examined in the report, exemplifies the green colonialism that President Ruto of Kenya is promoting on the continent — opening the door for more extraction of Africa’s resources. Despite AFIP’s claim of promoting “nature-based solutions,” a troubling pattern of exploitation and greenwashing underscores its investments, stakeholders, and financial backers. AFIP’s first acquisition is Green Resources, a Norwegian plantation forestry and carbon credit company notorious for its history of land grabbing, human rights violations, and environmental destruction across Uganda, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

Kenya’s promotion of voluntary carbon markets overlooks their fundamental flaws. Over the span of more than two decades, they have miserably failed to reduce carbon emissions, and instead wreaked social havoc by causing forced evictions, loss of livelihoods, and violence. Conflicts of interest, fraud, and speculation plague these markets while the expansion of carbon offset schemes and tree plantations results in expropriation of community lands to generate profits for investors. Far from benefiting Africa, the expansion of carbon markets sustains the status quo of resource exploitation, greenhouse gas pollution, and North/South power imbalances.

“The ACS and ACW represent a pivotal moment. African leaders have a historic opportunity to reject the false solutions that perpetuate the same exploitative model of colonialism that has fueled this environmental catastrophe. Instead, they must listen to the calls of over 400 African civil society organizations(link is external) and prioritize real solutions that account for historical responsibility, uphold the rights of Indigenous and local communities, and pave the way for an equitable and just transition. African people deserve climate justice, not more extractivism,” concluded Mittal.


Continue Reading


African Development Bank’s Push for large scale Agriculture in Africa will spark more concerns over Food Sovereignty and Environmental Impacts.



Panel at the second international summit on food production in Dakar, 10 February 2023, from left to right: Allan Kasujja, BBC (moderator); Admassu Tadesse, Trade and Development Bank; Danladi Verheijen, Verod Capital; M. Malick Ndiaye, Banque Agricole; Dr. Olagunju Ashimolowo, ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development; M. Wagner Albuquerque de Almeida, International Finance Corporation. Source: African Development Bank Group.

“Agriculture must become Africa’s new oil,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), at the inauguration of the “Feed Africa: Food Sovereignty and Resilience” (Dakar 2) summit, held in late January 2023 in Senegal. He spoke to 34 African heads of state and 70 ministers, representatives of the European Commission, the United States and several European countries, as well as multilateral institutions such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).[1]

While one of the main objectives of the Bank at the summit was to attract private financing for its projects, the intervention of the director of the Nigerian private equity fund Verod Capital explains the challenge: “I know that we talk about the future of Africa as being that of smallholder farmers, but (…), it is really difficult to experience governance at this level. Smallholder farmers are not the most efficient enterprises. Their bargaining power is limited, they have less money to invest in the infrastructure needed for more efficient agriculture and to get their products to market (…). So, we need bigger businesses where we can deploy capital. I think it will attract more private capital. »[2] Verod is one of the 70 private equity funds in which the AfDB is a shareholder.[3]

In financial terms, the Bank has a certain weight in the continent. It currently has USD 240 billion to invest and a portfolio of USD 56.6 billion already invested.[4] The main sectors covered by this portfolio are: transport (27%), electricity (20%), finance (18%) and agriculture (13%).[5]

Often these investments lead to conflicts with affected local communities. According to the Environmental Justice Atlas, the Bank is involved in at least 14 ongoing social and environmental conflicts.[6] It is in this context that social movements and women’s groups are preparing an African civil society campaign against the AfDB.[7]

So how does the Bank work? Which actors benefit the most? What agricultural model is it promoting? And what role does it play in relation to the struggles for food sovereignty in Africa?

Dakar 2 and the Era of Pacts

Among the “successes” of Dakar 2 claimed by the AfDB is the agreement to implement the “Food and Agricultural Supply Pacts” for 40 countries for the next 5 years.[8] The African Union has declared its strong support for this initiative.[9]

A first reading of the pacts surprises by the lack of care taken in their drafting. For example, the pacts of Burundi and Cape Verde are incomplete, and that of Togo does not make it possible to know whether it concerns this country, Niger or Madagascar. In others, like that of Cameroon, certain parts of the text are copied several times. Despite the supposed importance of these initiatives in attracting funding from the private sector and development banks and agencies, the total cost of the projects is unclear. Our conservative estimate of the total cost is around USD 65 billion.[10]

Far from promoting agro-biodiversity, which is Africa’s wealth, the pacts aim to promote mainly corn, wheat, rice, soybeans and palm oil. The aim is to increase their yields through the industrialisation of “value chains”, which will extend to livestock, dairy and fisheries. To do this, the pacts will promote mechanisation, certified seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides, often via tax exemption on imports and other types of subsidies.

Throughout the summit it was repeated that 65% of the world’s uncultivated arable land is in Africa.[11] This is why the expansion of cultivated area is strongly on the agenda in the pacts and covers tens, hundreds of thousands or even millions of hectares, depending on the country. For example, under the Tanzania pact, only 23% of the land available for agriculture would be cultivated. The document proposes prioritising the production of wheat, avocado, market garden produce and sunflower. For this, it refers to the need to expand the agricultural area by more than two million hectares by 2025, in particular through a “transfer” of land currently owned by the village councils. The government is reportedly already identifying and acquiring land for industrial agriculture, installing irrigation infrastructure, an agreement with the “Building Better Tomorrow” initiative.[12]

The provision of open trade policies aimed at attracting investment, especially from the private sector, is also mentioned in the pacts, often in the form of very problematic public-private partnerships.[13] Among other policies aimed at attracting investment, the Kenya pact refers to the absence of restrictions on the repatriation of earnings and capital. It is also worrying that the pacts are based on failed agro-industrial programs. This is the case, for example, of that of Gabon, which specifies that the implementation will be based “on the institutional mechanism already existing and set up by the support project for the GRAINE program”. This program was entrusted to a public-private partnership between the Gabonese government and the multinational Olam in 2015. It has been denounced by the affected communities for having led to the grabbing of thousands of hectares by oil palm plantations.[14]

Source: Grain

Continue Reading

Resource Center

Legal Framework




Subscribe to Witness Radio's newsletter


Subscribe to Witness Radio's newsletter