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During the last week of March 2017, Young Friends of the earth Africa (FoEA) groups and Young Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) had a cross-regional learning meeting for groups participating in the Erasmus project of the FoEI federation in Durban South Africa. The meeting was hosted by groundwork, FoE South Africa.

The Erasmus project brings together youths from African and European regions that are partners to Friends of the Earth to strengthen the Youth Environmental Justice movement, both internally in FoEI and externally with Youth Social and Environmental Justice allies.

The project is also an opportunity to strengthen relationships and ways of working across the European and African regions, and supporting the active engagement of young people in decision-making.

The Director of groundwork, Bobby peek told the young people that one of the principles of FOEI is inclusiveness. Young people can only be included in most of the FOE work if they acquire deeper knowledge around movement building and FoEI is ready to support them.

Ms Sophie Manson, the coordinator for the Erasmus project in FOEI advised the youth to collectively identify creative strategies to enhance the engagement of diverse youth groups.

She told them the future belongs to young people and therefore young people need to critically reflect on particular role they can play in struggles against injustice. She advised them to have one firm voice through the environmental justice movement and suitable thematic campaigns that will prosper their struggles in their individual organizations

In the meeting, NAPE was represented by Peruth Atukwatse who coordinates the Youth Projects. NAPE, in 2016 started a Youth Movement for Social and Environmental Justice in Uganda. The movement is aimed at among other things:

  • Supporting   youth involvement in decision-making processes at all levels
  • Participation of young people in international fora to share experiences and deepen their knowledge on environmental justice issues to enable them advocate for social growth and environmental sustainability of their communities
  • Mobilize 7000 youths by 2018 and build their civic competence, inspire and motivate them to increase their inclusiveness in promoting and building pressure for good governance in natural resources, and
  • Promote social and economic empowerment for the youths in Uganda

NAPE believes that once the young people are in the driving seat, they can cause the change the organization and other activists and other Civil Society Organizations globally have been struggling to make. Society sometimes have a negative perception of young and because of this, young people are disengage from social, economic and political processes and feel powerless to bring about a sustainable change in their communities. NAPE stands in solidarity with young people as they demand for social and environmental justice.

The story was compiled by Peruth Atukwatse

The American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has hailed NAPE for its work of fighting for environmental justice and human rights of communities affected by the Oil Industry in Bunyoro sub-region of Uganda.

On March 2, 2017, NAPE hosted a team of 24 donors for the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) in its community operational areas in Hoima District. The 24 donors were accompanied by staff of AJWS from their New York and Kampala offices.

The AJWS President and Chief Executive Director, Robert Bank said the effects of oil developments heavily fall on host communities and that it is important for communities to be mobilized to realise their rights and work together to defend them.

He stressed that this can be achieved when the communities have one voice and speak without fear. “Good people speak the truth to power. This is the only thing that can bring change. As AJWS, we stand with you in solidarity” he said while addressing a community gathering at Kaiso-Tonya fishing village on the shores of Lake Albert.

Before Bank made his remarks, the NAPE Executive Director Frank Muramuzi and the Sustainability School Manager, Allan Kalangi had made presentations on NAPE’s vision, mission, core values and objectives and its emphasis on working with grassroots communities who are usually marginalized in development processes.

Through dance and drama, the Kaiso-Tonya communities ably conveyed a message of how oil activities have impacted on their livelihoods and their human rights and how NAPE has played a very big role in sensitizing and empowering them to speak for themselves.

“NAPE has empowered us and we are now able to stand up against human rights violations and conserve the environment as well. With the Community Green Radio initiated by NAPE, our voices have been raised and we have a platform to express our views.” Sylivia Kemigisa, the chairperson of Kaiso Women’s group said.

Judy Stern, a Board member of AJWS applauded NAPE for tremendous work they are doing in organizing the communities to speak as one voice.

“I want to thank NAPE for advocating for the rights of communities. As AJWS, we are happy to support you. That’s why I leave an appreciation message with a great American saying; ‘Never doubt that small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Kaiso-Tonya in Buseruka Sub County Hoima district is one of the areas where some oil wells (Ngasa 1 and Ngasa 2) were discovered and the road was constructed to ease transport. However, the communities say this came with challenges like violation of women’s rights, poor compensation and influx of people in the area leading to lake depletion and frustration of their livelihoods.

From Kaiso-Tonya, the team moved to Kigaga village, Buseruka sub-county which shares the same parish (Kabale) with the yet to be constructed oil refinery. Kigaga forms one of the listeners’ clubs of the Community Green Radio.

Penina Ruhindi, the Chairperson of Kigaga oil refinery affected women’s group welcomed the team. She said that the communities that neighbor the proposed oil refinery area faced challenges of land grabbing, environmental degradation, food insecurity and displacements.

Ruhindi said that the Community Green Radio has helped them in amplifying their voices and sensitizing them on how they can engage in income generating activities that do not degrade the environment.

“I want to thank NAPE for organizing and supporting us. With Community Green Radio, we have been able to raise our challenges and we have also sensitized others on the need to conserve the environment,” Ruhindi noted

NAPE has been supporting communities who are affected by oil activities to provide alternative sources of economic livelihoods like beekeeping, establishment of indigenous tree nursery beds among others and with support from AJWS they have provided them with funds to support community-led income activities through sub-granting.

The Kigaga community mounted a mini exhibition of the organ food crops that they have managed to grow following their being sensitized by the Community Green Radio

Muramuzi pledged that NAPE will continue working with the host communities in the oil region in sensitizing them on oil issues and its impacts on environment and livelihoods and their human rights so that they can position themselves better to benefit from the oil developments.

He also hailed the communities in Bunyoro for intensifying the campaign to revive and promote the indigenous seeds as well as saving the environment. “I am so happy that you are reviving our indigenous seeds to ensure food security. They are part of our culture and are very important for our health and need to be conserved alongside planting indigenous trees to conserve the environment.”

This story was compiled by Precious Natulinda,

Assistant News Editor,

Community Green Radio

NAPE promotes rural women's empowerment as one of its long term transformation goals. NAPE strives to create a society where every woman feels empowered, where every woman is independent, inspired and self-fulfilled. At NAPE we believe that women can make a change that we all desire. HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY!

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NAPE and allies have been supporting rural farmers in Bugala who lost their land to the Oil Palm plantation owned by Bidico to get justice since 2010. About 100 famers were evicted from their land to pave way for oil palm growing in Bugala, Kalangala district. Since 2014, the farmers have been battling with the company to be reinstated on their land. NAPE invited the UN Social and Environment Compliance Unit to investigate Bidico’s actions in Bugala.

 The UN Social and Environment Compliance Unit have finalized the investigation and released a report implicating Bidco following a complaint filed by Bugala farmers Association.

 In the report, the investigators found that the United Nations’ admission, due diligence, and screening processes for private sectors are flawed in general and were not fully complied with in the case of Bidco.

 The report found:

  • While UNDP’s vetting of Bidco identified several controversies, including allegations of land-grabbing, poor labor standards, deforestation and tax impropriety, “UNDP did not characterize these risks accurately – or clearly follow up in a satisfactory way.”
  • UN staff provided “very brief answers” in response to social and environmental controversies flagged in the vetting process and characterized them as “moderate,” when they should have been identified as “significant” concerns requiring a “full assessment.”
  • While UNDP policy underscores that the “growing of crops, including palm oil or other large monocultures” may be considered high risk, and for such sectors “an extra careful approach is required,” UN staff did not take such an approach.
  • UNDP staff were erroneously “reassured about Bidco because of Bidco’s membership in the UN Global Compact.” According to a UN Global Compact representative, "The UN Global Compact is not a performance or assessment tool. It does not provide a seal of approval, nor does it make judgments on performance."
  • UN staff involved in developing relationships with private sector companies such as Bidco should not make “recommendations and decisions relating to membership” in U.N. projects, as was the case with Bidco’s application.
  • Some interviewees, who are not named in the report, misled UN investigators by suggesting that the activities of Bidco Africa are not directly related to the activities of Bidco Uganda and OPUL, Bidco’s oil palm plantation. Investigators found that Bidco Africa has “at least financial links to Bidco Uganda and the Kalangala oil palm project.” According to several websites, including the OPUL website, OPUL is a subsidiary of Bidco Africa, and a recent International Fund for Agricultural Development report states that “Kalangala is the first phase of a longer-term PPP between the government and Bidco Oil Refineries Ltd. of Kenya (now known as Bidco Africa).”

 The U.N. report goes on to suggest that the world body’s vetting procedures be revamped to prevent controversial companies like Bidco from joining U.N. initiatives without more stringent checks. For example, in one policy that assesses private sector partners, only three “exclusionary criteria” are listed: two relating to the manufacture of armaments and one relating to marketing of breast milk substitutes contrary to World Health Organization guidelines. “It omits the human and labor rights-related criteria from exclusionary criteria,” the report says.

The report acknowledged the farmers’ complaint that the United Nations, by accepting Bidco as a private sector partner, is providing an endorsement that could “serve to facilitate future harmful activities by Bidco in Uganda and/or impact Ugandan communities.”

 The report also highlights the investigators’ interviews with farmers during their visit to Uganda, where they found that Bidco’s assertion that there is only one land grievance is disputed by at least 29 families claiming to have been “wrongly displaced.”

 The investigators met with several Ugandan women who claim to have been resettled from land now used by Bidco. The women say that they were either not compensated or not informed of their options and did not feel able to negotiate or reject the offer made; they are now living in a shantytown, where growing food is not possible, and they have no means of making money to pay for their needs; and they are living without the fathers of their children because there is no way for these men to make a living in the shantytown.

 To determine whether the United Nations should continue to associate with Bidco, the report recommends that UN staff “provide documentation consistent with UNDP’s full Policy on Due Diligence and Partnerships with the Private Sector, the complete Risk Assessment Tool, and Guidance, to ensure that due diligence with respect to Bidco’s membership in BCtA is adequate and outcomes of the due diligence support Bidco’s continued membership in BCtA.”

 For further information related to the case, including relevant annexes and the public comments matrix with SECU's responses, you may visit the case file on the SECU Case Registry here:

 

The was Story Compiled by Joan AKIIZA

NAPE Legal Officer