About 5,000 residents in the Island district of Buvuma have rejected a government proposal to compensate them for their land to pave way for oil palm growing, claiming their property was undervalued.
This comes after government unveiled a programme for the relocation and resettlement of the affected people late last year.
Residents led by Mr Mohammed Ssengooba said they will not hand over their pieces of land to Buvuma palm oil project managers until they are given fair compensation.The oil project is a component of the Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP) under the Ministry of Agriculture. Read more here.
NAPE is part of the Global Lead Paint Elimination Campaign (GLPEC), which is a global effort aimed at eliminating lead in paints through the entire chain: from the manufacture, sale, import, export and use of paint. Since 2015 NAPE has been participating in the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (ILPPWA) -an annual event carried out for a week in the month of October to raise awareness about the harmful effects of lead to human health and the environment. This year’s ILPPWA activities is happening from 22nd – 28th October 2017, and NAE has carried out series of sensitization campaigns in primary schools around Kampala on the harmful impacts of lead to children. Yesterday, NAPE held a press conference and released a study report that it conducted between March 2016 and August 2017 with support from International PoPs Elimination Network (IPEN) to the establish lead contamination in solvent-based paints for home-use manufactured and sold on Ugandan market.
For the study, NAPE purchased a total of 30 cans of solvent-based paint intended for home use from stores in Kampala. The paints represented 14 different brands produced by 14 manufacturers. All paints were analyzed by an accredited laboratory in the United States of America for their lead content, based on dry weight of the paint. The laboratory participates in the Environmental Lead Proficiency Analytical Testing (ELPAT) program operated by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), assuring the reliability of the analytical results. The result of the analysis found high concentration of lead, a heavy metal that is widely known for causing cancer in the paint on sale for home-use in Uganda.
People are exposed to lead in paint from various routes. Buildings painted with lead paint either on the interior or exterior have higher concentrations of lead in the dust. Children are most susceptible to exposure as they have frequent hand-to-mouth contact and play close to the ground where paint dust collects. Homes with lead paint on the exterior often have excessive lead levels in soil found adjacent to the structure from weathering and the dust generated from previous painting projects.
The report has a number of recommendations, including mediate formulation of national regulations to control the manufacture, sale and use of leaded paints in Uganda, and encouraged paint companies to find alternative or substitutes for lead in their products. Consumers are also encouraged to buy lead-free paints for home use. Read the full report here.
Why Lead is used in paints
Leaded is added to paint as a pigment and to increase durability and moisture resistance. Even a small amount can damage the brain and nervous system, and lead is especially harmful to children. Scientists have long been aware of lead’s toxicity.
Substitutes for lead in paint
Substitutes for lead-based pigments have been available for over one hundred years and titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are commonly used for this purpose. In most countries where lead paint is commonly sold for residential use, competing brands that have eliminated the use of lead pigment and other lead additives are often available within the same price range.
Shared Resources, Joint Solutions (SRJS) is an expanded program designed to strengthen and empower host communities in biodiversity-rich areas to effectively engage and participate in decisions around the management of natural resources so that it continue providing International Public Goods (IPDs). Such rich-biodiversity area is found in the Albertine Rift. This rich biodiversity, however, under threat by human activities and the current national development agenda.
In Uganda, the program is being implemented by the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and its implementing partners; Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), the Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda (ECOTRUST), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in the Murchison and Queen Elizabeth landscapes. The project partners have been raising community and stakeholder awareness on biodiversity conservation and strengthen community initiative to promote sustainable ecosystems and food security for the community.
Early this month, the project partners visited the Community Forest in Masindi district and Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Hoima district respectively to see, learn and appreciate the initiatives taken by communities and different stakeholders in promoting food security, water provision and climate resilience amidst oil exploration and forest degradation challenges through sustainable land use and forest conservation. The partners also visited the Ongo Community river line forest in Budongo forest corridors in Masindi that covers 197 hectares of land and managed by Ongo Forest Community Land Association with support from ECOTRUST.
Ongo Community Forest in Masindi district has been under threat by a proposed Sugarcane project. After intensive awareness raising and advocacy activities by the project partners, the, communities from Unini, Abangi, Ogada and Kibale villages in Budongo Sub County rejected the planned sugarcane project, and have now embarked on planting trees and rehabilitating Ongo Community Forest as they grow food crops. The communities have realized that land-use change of Ongo community forest would be big threat to community food security.
The Association Chairperson, Ms. Oleru Helen while addressing the project partners said community came up with the initiative of conservation after realizing that the forest which is their source of water, rain and firewood was being cleared with the aim of changing land-use.
One of the community members, Aleru said “People would come and log trees and use our boys to ferry them, eventually firewood started becoming a problem and people especially women would cross to Budongo forest where they would be beaten. That’s when we came up with the idea of getting the solution to this and many other challenges.”
In Bugoma Forest Reserve where NAPE has been collaborating with National Forestry Authority (NFA) in carrying community and stakeholder engagement meetings aimed at crafting sustainable management solutions to the forest reserve conservation and resource harnessing, it was observed that communities adjacent to the forest are also planting trees alongside growing food crops.
The NFA manager for Budongo ecosystems, Mr. Situart Maniraguha said the communities now realize the need to protect the forest reserve and hailed NAPE for supporting them in conserving Bugoma forest ecosystem which has had parts of the forest cleare-cut for sugarcane growers and other illegal activities. He also hailed NAPE for establishing Community Green Radio, which has become a mouthpiece for environmental conservation in Bunyoro sub region.
Speaking to Community Green Radio staff, Henk Simons from IUCN- Netherlands said there is need to strongly support and strengthen communities that are engaged in sustainable land-use and forest conservation, and implementing the laws that protect forests.
The Coordinator of SRJS Program at NAPE, Rajab Bwengye, hailed the initiative of communities for actively getting involved in tree planting near the forest reserves which he said is good to for food security and increasing the acreages of forests. He said NAPE will continue supporting NFA in fighting illegal titling of land in the contested areas of the forest reserve and also building the capacity of the community association -Collaborative Forest Management groups to ensure that there is continuous sensitization.
“I am happy that communities adjacent to the forests are planting trees that grow along with food crops not sugarcane. As SRJS, this is what we advocate for because the trees in the community land will act as a buffer to the encroachers,” Rajab said.
The Programs Officer for Water and Biodiversity at IUCN-Uganda office, Evelyn Busingye called upon the government to stand up and strengthen such community-led initiatives that are protecting the forests, and help to replicate such efforts in areas where there is high rate of forest degradation.
Bugoma Forest Reserve has of recent been threatened by increasing rates of encroachment for agricultural purposes, logging of timber and politically driven projects. Political interfearance by government officials is part of the reason for forest degradation in Hoima. Early this year, the former Hoima Municipality Mayor, Francis Atugonza was claiming 239 hectares of Bugoma forest reserve belonged to the Ababyasi clan, which he belongs to. Bunyoro Kingdom is also battling a court case with NFA claiming ownership of 5777 hectares of land under Block 2 of the forest reserve in Kyangwali Sub County in Hoima district.
Compiled by Precious Natulinda
NAPE Community Green Radio
The National Environmental Authority (Nema) has rejected a proposal by a Chinese company to excavate sand along the shores of Lake Victoria at Kawuku in Nkumba Parish, Wakiso District.
The company, Mango Tree Group Ltd, has since last year been in the spot over allegedly engaging in illegal sand mining activities in the area.
The company directors, however, sought official clearance from Nema, to conduct commercial sand mining at three sites on the lake shores at Nkumba, next to Kimi Island in Mukono District and near Kavejanja –Buusi Island, Wakiso District.
According to Nema Executive Director, Tom Okurut, the company’s activities have a negative impact on the eco-system on the lake shores, which would consequently affect the communities around Entebbe peninsular.
In his June 1 letter to Mango Tree Group directors, Dr Okurut stressed that the sites proposed for dredging are either “refugia (an area where various organisms can hide during harsh conditions) and/or spawning grounds for fish”.
He said Kimi Island is a tilapia breeding area, while Buusi and Nkumba are Nile-tilapia breeding and nursery areas respectively and also active fishing grounds which cannot be tampered with.
“ …the Nkumba and Buusi bay areas are targeted for cage fish farming so such a disturbance will impact fish stocks, the fishing industry, and consequently the livelihood of dependent communities,” he said, adding “In light of the aforementioned and the general purpose for which the projects were conceived, we found that the conditions for which a waiver under Section 34 (2) of the National Environment Act ,CAP,153 is granted, are not met, therefore, this Authority has not accepted your application for approval to dredge the proposed sites on Lake Victoria for sand.”
Mr Okurut said their field inspection of both Kimu Island and Nkumba area, revealed that the shoreline near Kimi Island has no sand, as the investor claimed and wondered why they are interested in the site.
The inspection of the sites conducted between April 10 and 12 this year was jointly done by Nema and the Directorate of Fisheries, Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines and Operation Wealth Creation.
Mango Tree Group Company Ltd had initially been granted a licence by Uganda Investment Authority to build ships, a port and ship yard at Kawuku and it is not clear how they ventured into sand dredging on the lake shores.
The dredger, which the company had so far built, had started dredging ship channels on the lake bed to open the water ways –which Nema says is dangerous to the aquatic ecosystem.
The dredger recently caught fire while being tested on the lake.
When contacted on Wednesday, Mr Stephen Cheng, the general manager of Mango Tree Group, said they were still in negotiations with Nema to discuss possibilities of okaying the project.
“It’s true our application was rejected, but right now, we have meetings with the Nema officials to see whether our application can be accepted,” he said.
Mr Emmanuel Kintu, a resident of Kasanja village in Wakiso District, said the investor had scooped all the sand on the shores rendering it dangerous for residents to walk or swim in such areas.
Wakiso District chairperson Matia Lwanga Bwanika commended Nema for taking what he described as a brave step towards restoring the degraded lakeshore.
“I have been fighting alone, but I am happy that Nema has come on board,” he said yesterday.
By Bwengye Rahab
On July 11, 2017, Uganda’s Attorney General tabled in Parliament a Bill to amend Article 26 of the 1995 Constitution (as amended) to the effect that the Government can legally displace communities anywhere in the country without prior payment of fair and adequate compensation to the victims.
That the Government should have powers to acquire any land anywhere in the country, including protected areas and no one should have a legal right to challenge such decisions on acquisition.
To be specific, the preferred position by the Government under the proposed amendment, reads, “Where the owner of property or any other person having any interest in or right over property objects to the compensation awarded under the law made under clause (2) (b), the Government or local government shall deposit with court for the property owner or any other person having any interest or right over property, the compensation awarded for the property and the Government or local government shall take possession of the property pending determination by the court of any dispute relating to the compensation.”
Amendment of Article 26 of the Constitution of Uganda reduces citizens’ rights to only money remedies and erodes the existing legal dispensation on land governance and ecosystem protection.
The most unfortunate part of such a move is that it will automatically erode citizen’s rights to grow food, secure water and conserve biodiversity (IPGs). The move will further complicate the equation of development versus conservation since it will result in legalising people’s displacement without consent which displacement will most likely accelerate people’s encroachment on protected areas.
Amendment of Article 26 will further render the environmental laws of Uganda irrelevant since no one will have legal right to question the degradation of ecosystems or abuse of environmental laws and, this will further, accelerate food insecurity and push Ugandans further into abject poverty amidst worsened climate change
Maybe the right questions to ask at this stage would be: Where in Uganda has a road or any other government project failed to be located when the land owner has been adequately compensated?”
Who meets the legal costs when you compulsorily acquire a person’s land and merely deposit what you think is the right compensation in court? In short, are courts going to be a free service in this line??
Where there is forceful eviction, where will the entire family together with the children settle during this saga?
When the compensation is deposited in court since this will not be money to buy food, provide water, secure shelter; how will the evicted family be surviving? Will the Government foot such basic needs?
How will you enforce, for instance, the 2015 Environmental Monitoring Plan for the Albertine Graben, the 2016 Management Plan for Murchison Falls National Park and the 2013 Sensitivity Atlas for the oil rich Albertine Graben, if the amended Constitution “Supreme Law” will be giving exclusive rights to government to compulsorily acquire any land be it private or protected? In short, exclusive rights to invest any where any time. All this said and done, I would think Government needs to give the proposed amendment a critical eye well weighing whether this is the right move.
This is a million-dollar question; the Government will always find difficult to convince Ugandan citizens about.
The writer works with NAPE and co-ordinates Oil Watch Africa