Tourism Host Communities Threaten Murchison Falls National Park

By Cirrus Kabaale

Last month, the World Bank and Swedish Embassy signed a partnership agreement of worth 12.3 billion Uganda shilling fund support with several government institutions including National Forestry Authority (NFA), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Ministry of Tourism and among others to help the country to manage natural and tourism resources.

The purpose of the support was to help the country’s economy to recovery from the effects of post covid 19, promote green economy by reducing the carbon emission and address loopholes by enforcing environmental protection as part of the recovery plan for the tourism industry.

The tourism sector that facilitates mobility and human interaction has been amongst the hardest hit. The sector has been one of the leading foreign exchange earners for the country. In the 2018/2019 financial year, tourism earned Uganda over USD 1.6 billion.

And according to the estimates from the Ministry of Tourism indicate that Uganda is expected to lose nearly $ 500 million in tourism earnings in 2020 due to travel restrictions implemented after the coronavirus outbreak.

The presidential restrictions to curb the spread of the deadly virus have sharply curtailed tourism activities everywhere and the tourism host community has not been spared. While a gradual re-opening of society is underway, the pandemic in the country has not yet reached its peak and the long process towards recovery is just beginning.

As tourism crises elsewhere have demonstrated, communities who largely depend on tourism were left uncertain of how to survive after a national lockdown to contain the spread of Covid 19 halted tourism activities, which pushed communities to encroach on the wildlife habitat areas in search for food and income.

In efforts to ensure that the tourism host communities do not destroy Uganda’s environment, on the 10th and 11th November 2020, Environment Governance Institute (EGI) in partnership with Uganda Wild Life Authority Staff working in Murchison falls landscape with the support of the IUCN Save Our Species which is co-funded by the European Union organized community champion trainings for tourism host communities in Pakanyi and Ngwedo sub counties, Masindi and Bullisa districts respectively.

The training enabled tourism host communities to build their resilient capacity to adapt and apply alternative land-use and livelihood practices to secure food security, improved incomes and climate-resilient. This will help limit or stop them from destroying wildlife habitats and engaging in illegal activities including poaching.

Therefore, the diversification of livelihoods will enable communities, generate income, get food, and ensure the ecosystems are protected.

Cirrus Kabaale, Programs Officer Just Energy Transition at Environment Governance Institute (EGI)

 

 

Should Countries Fire Sell Their Oil & Gas Assets?

Does the energy transition imply a total ban on fossil fuels and should countries fire sell their oil & gas assets?

No, energy transition does not mean a total ban on fossil fuels. In simple terms, energy transition refers to a shift from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy. Energy transition is a progressive process; however, some experts and activists have used the term to shame countries that still desire to develop their fossil fuels. Although some parts of the globe such as Europe have made significant efforts to decarbonise the energy sector by among others deploying renewable energy, energy efficiency technologies, smart grids, smart meters and electric vehicles; other regions, especially rural areas in developing countries, are still progressing from traditional biomass, although there are various renewable energy projects in these countries.

Taking stock of the above, a wholesome transition away from fossil fuels is not expected. For example, it is often said that our world has transitioned from "coal age" to "oil age" decades ago. Yet, coal still accounted for more than a quarter of global energy supply in 2019 and the world used two and half times more coal in 2019 than in 1973. For most developed countries, traditional biomass (wood, crop waste, or charcoal) has lost its prominent role in the global energy mix since the industrial revolution.

Yet, the world used 60% more biomass in 2019 than did in 1860. Additionally, we note that many developing countries such as those in Asia and Africa, are still struggling to transition from traditional energy to modern energy. For instance, given the social roles of women in various Sub-Sahara African (SSA) countries, such as cooking and other domestic work, women spend a lot of time collecting biomass fuels such as firewood: estimates indicate that women spend on average 1.4 hours a day collecting fuel wood and four hours for cooking. This in essence highlights the essential role of access to modern energy in not only achieving SDG 1 on poverty eradication, but also SDG 5 on gender equality.

Taking into consideration the above, countries should not fire sell their oil and gas assets. Additionally, finances in these projects should not be reduced, but rather cleaner forms of technology should be embraced. What is desirable is for countries to invest in both fossil fuels and renewables. Nevertheless, given the global efforts to tackle climate change as stipulated in the 2015 Paris Agreement, coupled with public pressure and shaming; there have been developments in some countries aimed at totally banning fossil fuel dependency. In Norway, for instance, there has been a halt in fossil fuel investments.

In June 2020, the Norwegian parliament recommended that the Sovereign wealth fund sells off more than $10 billion of stocks in companies related to fossil fuels. Besides Norway, in November 2019, The European Investment Bank (EIB), approved a policy to ban funding for oil, gas and coal projects at the end of 2021. In that case, gas projects could still be funded but as long as they utilize clean technologies such as carbon capture and storage, combining heat and power generation, or mix in renewable gases with the fossil natural gas. These are just a few examples of the various developments in the energy sector, which negatively and directly have a financial impact on fossil fuel investments.

The above notwithstanding, the fact that oil has a higher energy density compared to other fuels and relatively moderate carbon emission rates makes it difficult to be replaced for certain uses, particularly in transportation. Even in the most dramatic scenarios projected by BP (2020), due to depletion, significant investment is still required to meet the global demand for oil and gas for several decades to come. So, there is no need to rush to sell your oil and gas assets.

The social and economic impacts of the energy transition for hydrocarbons-rich nations

By background, we note that Goal 7 of the United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDG) advocates access to affordable and clean energy for all. Access to modern forms of energy such as electricity is crucial to addressing other global challenges such as poverty, famine and gender inequality: reliable data shows that three billion people - more than 40% of the world population - are still relying on polluting and unhealthy fuels for cooking. With this data in mind, we must agree that a wholesome transition is likely to have both positive and negative impacts. Positively, more investments will be directed to renewable energy projects, and this will also present employment opportunities. However, this will also imply a decline in investments in fossil fuels. Below, a brief of the negative impacts:

Social impacts - Access to electricity

A wholesome transition is likely to escalate energy access challenges. Socially, many people lack access to electricity and are still reliant on traditional energy such as charcoal and firewood, as such the transition should focus on ensuring that these people progress from charcoal to other forms of modern energy such as electricity (which can be generated using both renewables and fossil fuels). The focus for developing countries in Asia and Africa, therefore is access to electricity.

Electricity in its natural form tends to appear as lighting and static, the technological advancement has enabled primary sources of energy such as coal, nuclear power, running water and of late renewable energy sources to provide this electricity. In this respect, for a country with more than 80% of the population lacking electricity, the focus will not entirely be on the kind of primary energy used to provide this electricity, but rather on ensuring that people shift from wood and biomass usage. Fossil fuels are also still essential for the urbanisation and industrialisation of many developing countries. As such, a wholesome transition will negatively affect developing countries that are counting on their fossil fuels for economic development.

Economic impacts

The economic impact is likely to be felt by producing countries such as Nigeria, Angola and Algeria that are massively dependent on hydrocarbons for their budgets. Whereas it might appear that extractive industries are key in tackling poverty and ensuring economic development, there have been instances where countries endowed with massive natural resources grow slower than resource-poor countries and faced with political instability. This is what scholars have termed as the resource curse, and it is attributed mostly due to corruption, poor governance and ineffective institutions. Nevertheless, if well managed, these resources can contribute to the economic development of countries as was the case in Norway and Botswana. The United States, Canada and Australia are also resource-rich countries. The challenge for resource-rich countries is therefore how to harness the windfall revenues from fossil fuel development and contribute to sustainable growth.

How do we reconcile fossil fuel development and efforts to address climate change?

It is true, fossil fuels are the main contributor to climate change as they produce around 60% of greenhouse gases. Additionally, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a warning in 2018 that humanity had just twelve years to limit global warming to below 2°C [1]. However, focus should be put on how to utilise these resources in a sustainable manner. Although fossil fuels are associated with climate change impacts, cleaner and more efficient production and utilization methods can reduce emissions from fossil fuel use. By investing in clean technologies such as carbon capture and storage, combining heat and power generation, or mixing in renewable gases with the fossil natural gas, the high carbon footprints associated with fossil fuel production and use can be significantly reduced.

How are countries reacting to fossil fuel developments in an era of energy transition?

They are mixed signals with respect to fossil fuel developments, as summarised below:

More investments in renewables

Huge investments in renewable energy projects are evident in different developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa and Kenya have taken a clear lead over such developments, including in wind, solar and geothermal energy.

Steady investments in fossil fuel infrastructure

With the new oil discoveries in countries such as Uganda, Senegal or Kenya, there have been initiatives to invest in more fossil fuel infrastructure. For instance, Uganda has proven crude oil reserves of 6.5 billion barrels, about 2.2 billion of which is recoverable. The country recently, on the 10th of September 2020, concluded and signed with Total, a Host Government Agreement (HGA) for the East Africa Crude Oil pipeline (EACOP) project. This $3.5bn project is intended to connect Uganda's oil fields to Tanzania's port of Tanga.

Gas infrastructure are evident in different oil-rich countries. For instance, on 30th June 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari launched a $2.6 billion gas pipeline project in Nigeria. The 614-km long pipeline will run from Ajaokuta to Kano under the auspices of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

All the above developments point to the keen interest hydrocarbon-rich countries have in utilising natural gas resources to meet the energy demand in the region. Besides ensuring energy security, fossil fuels, specifically natural gas, has been recognized as an environmentally preferable product (EPP) for a low carbon transition. Basically, "environmentally preferable" refers to products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose.

Conclusion

Like highlighted above, hydrocarbon rich countries should invest more in clean technologies to utilise these resources. Development of fossil fuels does not imply that renewables should not be utilized, as such countries should also invest more in clean energy such as wind and solar. Good governance, transparency and accountability are also key in utilising natural resource to ensure that revenues from fossil fuels can finance renewable energy projects. Additionally, mineral rich countries should take note of the increasing role of critical minerals such as cobalt and lithium in the energy transition.

An expanded version of this article is published in the Journal of Sustainable
Development Law and Policy, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Nigeria, Volume 11 Issue 2, 2020


Dr. Victoria Nalule is a holder of a PhD in International Energy Law and Policy from CEPMLP, University of Dundee. Victoria is the Founder and Executive Director of the African Energy and Minerals Management Initiative (AEMI). She is currently involved as a Research Fellow with the DFID-funded, Extractives Hub project, based at CEPMLP, University of Dundee, UK.

Dr. Xiaoyi (Shawn) Mu is a Reader in Energy Economics at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP), the University of Dundee. He earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Oklahoma in 2006 and Bachelor's degree in economics from Renmin University of China in 1994. His research interest has focused on commodity pricing and volatility, the economics of oil and gas, electricity, renewables, regulation and restructuring of energy policy issues in developing countries.

How Peace & Security Have Facilitated Sustainable Exploitation Of Natural Resources

By Dr Abel Tindao

If there is anything that has propelled Uganda to achieve all that it has achieved economically, it is the relatively sufficient peace and security that the government under President Yoweri Museveni has ensured that it thrives throughout the time he has been the country’s leader. Uganda People Defense Forces (UPDF), Uganda Police Force (UPF), Uganda Prisons and other security agencies have protected Ugandans, foreigners and their property. Minus the sporadic incidences of homicides and political activism, one can say that Uganda, a third world country, is one of the peaceful countries in the world.

Uganda, described as the Pearl of Africa by former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Sir Winston Churchill, is a gifted country in terms of the beautiful climate, naturally humane environment and an endowment of natural resources. This God given gifts have endeared Uganda to the rest of the world as we have seen in the growing numbers recorded in the tourism sectors as foreigners come to see the beautiful Uganda; earning the country some dollars from tourists originating from Africa and the rest of the world.

Underneath the beauty of this country sits conquerable amounts of natural resources wealth like minerals and hydrocarbons that give off petroleum products. For a country with such endowment, it is incumbent upon its people to trust the resources in the hands of an able government. While that is ideal, most times, and especially in developing countries, the government and politicians mismanage these resources and use accrued revenue to mistreat its people. In Uganda, this hasn’t been the case. At least not yet. You can say that the country was lucky that at the time of political turmoil, the leaders then never targeted these resources. It was until when the country was liberated by President Yoweri Museveni that systems were put in place for the extraction of the resources and put the earned revenues to rebuilding the country.

Focus On Natural Resources Exploitation

While the country has known since the late 1920s that it has huge mineral deposits and was potentially rich with oil and gas deposits, the subsequent post-independence governments were too preoccupied with politics, military warfare and anarchy that they never prioritized using the abundant natural resources to develop the country. Sometimes political instability and lack of democracy blinds leaders but in the last two decades, we see that with a stable government and unquestionable security the country has since 1986 moved on to train the right human resource and put in place the right laws to facilitate the exploitation of these minerals and hydrocarbons in a sustainable manner that will leave the country rich and developed.

This political stability and guaranteed safety have gained the country confidence from foreign investors who have the money, skills, tools, expertise and technology to exploit, add value and market these natural resources.

Mining Sector Now Thriving

Despite reaching peak levels in the 1950’s when it accounted for up to 30% of Uganda’s export earnings, the mining sector plummeted in the 1970’s due to political and economic instability. According to Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), the period after 1986 has been marked by a favorable business climate and many mining companies have taken up licenses in the mining sector; growing positively with growth rates peaking at 19.4% in the financial year 2006/07. The growth in the mining sector continued to spike. The UIA reported that in the financial year 2009/2010, the sector grew by 12.8%. In terms of licenses taken, the UIA says that in 1999 there were 66 licenses issued in the exploration and mining license categories combined but by the beginning of 2010 there was a total of 517 licenses issued.

Similar growth over the years has been recorded. The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development reports that the contribution of minerals to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth increased from 0.3% in financial year 2012/13 to 0.6% in financial year 2017/18 which has also seen the value of mineral production increase from Shs159.3bn in 2013 to Shs179.7bn in 2017. The sub-sector, according to the finance ministry, can create employment since it employs about 26.5% of Uganda’s population directly or indirectly.

To fully exploit the mining sector, government has been carrying out appraisal of minerals in the country. Potential mineral targets have been discovered in the areas of Masaka, West Nile, Iganga, Mayuge, Hoima, Kaliro, Kabale, Mubende, Busia, Karamoja, Buhweju, Rukungiri and Kisoro among others. While these and other mining areas are dominated by artisanal minners, the sub sector continues to attract big companies from Australia, Europe, USA, Canada, India, China, Japan, Russia and South Africa. They come to the country to tap into the abundant metallic mineral resources like Copper, Cobalt, Gold, Iron, Lead and Lithium, industrial minerals like Bentonite, Clay, Phosphate, Pozzolana and Salt and gemstones like Opal, Quartz Topaz, Tourmaline and Zircon.

The mining sector has a number of laws including the Mining Act, the Land Act, the Financial Management Act among other and an assortment of policies led by the Mineral Policy 2001 and other legislative frameworks. Many of these are under review for amendment to rhyme with the times and meet new demands from Ugandans and investors. The same also ensure that sector players transfer knowledge and skills from foreign investors to Ugandans through training and investment partnerships.

Chasing The Oil And Gas Dream

This has been an interesting and exciting journey for Uganda. Like the mining sector, the oil and gas sector has hugely benefited from the peace the country has enjoyed. Docile after the earlier unconclusive and fruitless exploration trials in the 1880s and 1920s, and before the resumption in the late 1980s, the oil and gas sector would have to wait for close to twenty years to boom with nascent discoveries in 2006 in Bunyoro sub region. The discoveries in the country have since risen to an estimated 6.5 billion barrels of oil, 1.4 billion of which are recoverable.

The investors and the investment in the oil and gas sector have been made possible because the country is relative peaceful and secure. The closest the Albertine region where oil and gas was discovered came to a war was in the last days of Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony. The rebels operating in South Western Uganda were given no chance by UPDF. They never had a chance to operate up north of the rift valley. With this stability, oil majors Total E&P, Tullow Oil PLC, CNOOC and other global service providers in the oil business like Schlumberger gained the confidence to trickle down to Uganda with billions of dollars. To date, international oil companies have invested close to $10bn and another $20bn is expected to be injected into Ugandan economy; directly creating over 300, 000 jobs. In a period of 25 years, the country might harvest over $50bn in revenues.

This is just for the 40% of explored Uganda. Uganda continues to invite oil and gas exploring companies to find more oil, this time, not only in the Albertine region but also the Kadam area in Karamoja and central Uganda in Mukono and Kayunga districts. Already Atlas Oranto of Nigeria and Armour Energy of Australia are in the Albertine graben region exploring for new finds. The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) is expecting to announce the second licensing round to attract new petroleum exploration firms to cover new acreages hunting for more oil. Once these come along, Uganda will rank high on the log of oil and gas producers on the African continent. This is no mean feat.

Uganda might have delayed to realize its first barrel, but experts have continued to remain confident that the government is taking the right steps to avert issues like the much talked about oil curse. Ideally, Uganda must be producing oil but the desire to have a refinery and a crude export pipeline created a delay as the respective infrastructures have to be built. This process itself is creating jobs and attracting foreign direct investment. All these can disappear in the wind when security is weak. If oil companies persist to operate in a not peaceful environment, corruption and mismanagement of natural resource revenue breeds, which leads to underdevelopment and national poverty.

 

Dr Abel Tindao is a Ugandan businessman with interests in real estate, energy and education sectors.

Promote Renewable Energy To Save Environment

By Paul Kato

Uganda’s population is estimated to be 43.8 million people and growing at an average rate of 5.3% per year. The growing population is obviously exerting a lot of pressure on the existing natural resources in the quest for food, habitation, social, economic and environmental wellbeing. This is because of the failure by the government to promote renewable energy fully in the country especially in the rural areas.

Majority of the population in Uganda is poor experiencing hampered social and human development because they are not fully engaged in the use of renewable energy especially solar energy which is cheaper, affordable, clean, reliable and environmental friendly. The massive destruction of the environment, for instance, the forests and wetlands is like to continue on increased rate due to the failure by the government of Uganda to invest much in the renewable energy especially solar energy.

The per capita consumption of these energy sources in Uganda is still very small ranging from 5% to Zero especially in rural areas of Uganda. The supply and availability of renewable is crucial to the social and economic transformation and country development without degradation of the environment.

The country should know that when renewable energy is fully promoted in the country especially in the rural areas, it will be easy for the people to shift from agriculture, charcoal burning and use of firewood among other which tend to contribute too much pressure on the environment.

The environment needs to be conserved because of the increasingly climatic changes in the country. Today, various parties of the country, especially in the rural areas people, are suffering from different climatic changes like floods and prolonged drought among others because of the massive degradation of the environment due to a lot of pressure put by people carrying out agriculture and charcoal burning.

The country should invest much in the renewable energy to reduce the pressure put on the environment by individuals, veterans and senior government officials carrying out human activities like agriculture and charcoal burning.

Paul Kato-research associate

African Institute for Energy Governance.

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Fresh Dairy Explains Importance Of Quality Dairy Products

Milk is a key component of any balanced diet and yet many people are not well versed with its processing or value chain that impacts the quality of milk before it gets to their glasses.

According to the Dairy Development Authority (DDA) in Uganda, although milk production in Uganda has increased from 2.08 billion litres in 2015 to about 2.5 billion in litres in 2020, consumption is still low. A DDA report suggests that the per capita consumption of milk in Uganda stands at 62 litres which falls below the 200 litres recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Speaking at a recently organized event at the DDA offices, the Minister of State for Animal Industry Bright Rwamirama blamed this low consumption on people’s tendency to take fruit juice or soda which is readily available instead of milk which according to him is more nutritious. Rwamirama called for the need to prioritize serving milk at events in order to boost milk consumption.

This call for increased milk consumption has come at a time when milk processing companies have made it easier for consumers to take dairy products by ensuring quality control and varying products such as milk, yoghurt, butter, flavoured milk, and cream among others from which consumers can choose.

Marketing Manager, Fresh Dairy – Vincent Omoth said, ‘A growing body of recent research suggests that enjoying three servings of dairy foods a day is part of a nutrient-rich and balanced diet, and while several dairy products are available on the market, it’s vital to pay attention to the processing value chain as the quality of these dairy products is determined by the effectiveness of the milk processing value chain. The milk processing value chain refers to the step by step process that milk takes from the farm to the consumer’s cup.

Omoth noted that the value chain of Fresh Dairy’s products begins with the Farm. Fresh Dairy works with over 30,000 small and large farmers who are the principal stakeholders in our business that we empower on best practice in the dairy enterprise periodically. At Fresh Dairy, we believe that good quality milk products are made from good quality milk. We therefore source all the milk used in Fresh Dairy products from Ugandan farms only.’

Omoth explained that dairy farmers take their milk to Milk Collection Centres every morning where it undergoes mandatory tests. From Milk Collection Centres, milk is driven using milk tankers to the factory. At the factory, milk is tested again before entering a closed processing system out of which dairy products are made such as yoghurt, milk, ghee, butter, cream. The pasteurized Fresh Dairy products are then distributed to the retail outlets such as shops, supermarkets, duukas and kiosks countrywide where consumers can easily buy them.

Bugoma Forest Reserve Is Falling At An Alarming Rate

By Aryampa Brighton

Following a certificate issued by National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), guiding on how the land on Bugoma in Kikuube district should be used, Hoima Sugar have been allowed to grow sugarcane, which NEMA deems fit for human activity since it is grassland.

This act by NEMA sends grief down the spine of environmental activists across the globe who had protested the occupancy of Hoima Sugar on the land as the existence of Bugoma Forest reserve hangs in balance. Prior to issuance of the same certificate by NEMA, Masindi High Court Judge Mr. Wilson Masalu Musene ruled to allow the destruction of over 22 square miles of natural forest cover by Hoima Sugar Works for a sugarcane plantation.

This ruling also implied that he indirectly (though quite explicitly) ruled in support of the degazettement of a forest reserve that is also home to rare species of wildlife including over 500 Chimpanzees, Mangabeys, rare bird species and diverse plant life. After the decision, the life of Bugoma has been hanging on Civil society and NGOs from conservation, tourism and the legal fraternity who since came to launch the “SAVE BUGOMA FOREST CAMPAIGN”.

The whole Bugoma case focuses on land, but what happens if this is a natural forest, or wetland, or game reserve? Should it not be the Government of Uganda to guardedly monitor natural resources in and outside protected areas for the benefit of all people of Uganda? Who then should be mandated with ensuring that the country’s natural resources are protected?

Despite the country’s efforts to carry out several excellent environmental policies, legal and institutional reforms aimed at promoting the conservation and sustainable use of the country’s forest resources, as is the case with many other regulations, enforcement and corruption have been a major challenge.

Uganda today has the highest forest conversion and degradation in the whole of East Africa. According to the 2016 joint water and environment sector review report, Uganda’s forest cover had reduced from 24% in 1990 to just 11% in 2015. A few years ago, government gave out Butamira to Madhvani family’s Kakira sugar works, and in 2007, it attempted to degazette part of Mabira forest for use by Mehta’s Lugazi sugar factory, thanks to efforts by the conservation fraternity, civil society and the general public, this move was blocked.


“The issue of government consultation and consensus building on forest related and other natural-resource-based issues is still wanting,” “For all the forest land that has been given away, has there been consensus with the different players in the sector, and have there been thorough Environmental Social Impact Assessments which are prerequisite for any development of such magnitude almost anywhere around the world?” At the answer to these questions lies the heart of the problem in the fight to save Bugoma from distinction.

Despite the assertation by Hoima Sugar Ltd Spokesperson Sheila Nduhukire that On 25th April 2019, court ruled that Hoima Sugar was the rightful occupant of the 22square Miles of land bordering Bugoma Forest Reserve after National Forestry Authority NFA dragged Hoima Sugar to Court challenging the occupancy.

As Ugandans we that Whether the land falls inside the boundaries of the gazetted reserve or not … is a merely sterile exercise for primary school students. Because the reality is that we are talking about an ecosystem of international importance that cannot be discussed in parts and pieces,” he said.

The decision to go ahead with clearing the forest is “an unforgivable shame for all people of common sense, not only in Uganda but in the world”. Conservation groups and forestry experts have long warned that destroying even just a part of the forest’s diversity would lead to a loss of fauna and flora, and affect the water levels of the River Nile.

This plan to destroy Bugoma forest is not only detrimental to the Ugandan government plans to develop and invest in tourism in Bugoma Forest, but to the overall fragile and rich ecosystem which will simply be irreparably compromised. This is because Sugarcane is not only environmentally unfriendly in general, but in particular when it becomes the buffer zone of a tropical rainforest. But it is not the best crop to use as a buffer zone around a protected area because it doesn’t mix well with wildlife.

People siding with NEMA to give away our forest should know that Forests are life. Source of air, water, food, shelter, medicine: they are critical to the survival of every living thing on Earth. From the rainforests of the tropics to the snowy boreal forests circling the northern hemisphere, these ecological powerhouses support the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people and host 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.

Their ability to generate rainfall is vital for millions of farmers not only in Uganda but also around the world as well as global food security. And, as the fight to stave off climate change escalates, forests could be our most important natural climate solution. Therefore as noted by MR. Dickens Kamugisha, an environmentalist and Chief Executive Officer of Africa Institute for Energy Governance during the press conference at Sheraton Hotel on save Bugoma campaign on Sunday 24th August 2020  that The fight to protect the world’s forests should be at the very heart of every human being.

Together with farmers, scientists, Indigenous forest communities, governments, responsible businesses, and citizens, should work diligently to cultivate sustainable, rural economies the most widely-proven strategy to keep our forests standing.

Aryampa Brighton is a student of Environmental law and policy at Uganda Christian University and research associate at Africa Institute for Energy Governance.

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Save Bugoma Central Forest Reserve From Destruction

By Patrick Edema

It was reported in media that the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) issued a certificate of approval that allows the destruction of 21.5 square miles of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in the midwestern region for sugarcane growing.

The issuance of the NEMA certificate to the sugarcane company came amid protests from the National Forestry Authority (NFA) who’s case is still pending before the court of appeal and the environmental activities who are fighting for the protection of biodiversity.

The Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, which covers 41,144 hectares, is the largest remaining block of natural tropical rainforest along the Albertine Rift Valley. The forest lies between Budongo forest and Semliki, thereby playing an enormous role in preserving wildlife migratory corridors.

It is also home to about 500 chimpanzees, which is 10% of the Ugandan chimpanzee population, making the forest a chimpanzee sanctuary. In addition, among other primates, Bugoma hosts a population of Ugandan mangabeys, which are endemic to this forest and are therefore a unique treasure.

Further, over 221 bird species have been recorded in Bugoma forest. Bugoma forest is also the single-most important tourist destination, outside the known national parks and wildlife reserves.

And with an ever-growing deforestation rate in Uganda that caused the loss of 63% of forested cover in only three decades, the life of the people in Bunyoro and in Uganda at large is more and more endangered. As forests are degraded or cut down, animal habitats are destroyed, resulting in increased human-wildlife conflicts.

In addition, water resources reduce as forests play an important role in water provisioning; this increases water stress. Further, soil fertility reduces, thereby affecting agriculture on which over 60% of Uganda’s population solely depend to meet their household needs.

In addition, conversion of Bugoma forest into a sugarcane plantation or any other land use that does not promote conservation undermines the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and international conventions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) among others which Uganda has ratified.

It will also undermine Uganda’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases through commitments made under Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and as well as the country’s commitments under the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Finally, since 1986, the Government of Uganda has pursued a policy of economic recovery and poverty reduction whilst observing sustainable management of the environment and natural resources. Currently, forest and environmental conservation is an integral component of the National Development Plan (NDP) III and the Uganda Green Growth Development Strategy.

This is due to the role forests and the environment at large play in supporting Uganda’s major economic activities such as agriculture, tourism and others. Therefore, destroying Bugoma forests that at the expense of sugarcane growing should be avoided for the wellbeing of the people in Bunyoro and Ugandans at large. It is paramount that the existing Bugoma Forest central reserve is protected and conserved.

Patrick Edema

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Land Acquisition For Oil And Gas Projects: Project Affected Persons Will Be Adequately Compensated

By Ali Ssekatawa

The oil and gas sector in Uganda is at a critical stage.  The commercial negotiations which will impact both the profitability and the sector’s contribution to inclusive development are in the final stages.  The infrastructure required to commercially produce the Country’s 6 billion barrels of oil and gas resources has been clearly defined.  This includes the precise location for the various infrastructure.

This infrastructure includes well pads and flowlines, crude oil pipelines, central processing facilities, a refinery, base camps and access roads, among others. These facilities are being set up for four key projects; the Tilenga and Kingfisher projects (for development of the fields and production of the crude oil) together with the Refinery and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline projects (the commercialization projects).

Since Uganda’s oil and gas resources are onshore, the above facilities will be developed on private land acquired from the communities. Additionally, some of the required land belongs to government entities. The said land is acquired after prior, fair and adequate consent and/or compensation of the communities affected.

The halt in field activities for land acquisition for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project (and likewise for the Kingfisher and Tilenga projects) as a result of scaling down of project-related activities and later the COVID-19 pandemic has caused anxiety among the Project Affected Persons (PAPs). 

In addition, false reports wrongly state that PAPs have been stopped from using their land while others have been forcefully evicted without compensation.  There have also been allegations that the PAPs were made to sign compensation forms without adequate information.

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda acknowledges the delay in the compensation process; however, no PAP has been evicted or stopped from using their land as has been portrayed.

The 1,443km EACOP will transport Uganda’s crude oil from Kabaale in Hoima district to Tanga in Tanzania, for export to the international market.

It will be buried to a depth of about 1 metre below the ground for all its length. In Uganda, the EACOP will cover 296km, through ten (10) districts (Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Mubende, Gomba, Sembabule, Lwengo, Kyotera and Rakai). 

The EACOP will be laid in a 30 metres corridor and the land for this has already been identified by Government. The Kingfisher project covers Kikuube and Hoima districts, whereas the Tilenga project covers Buliisa and Nwoya Districts. 

All the PAPs for the projects have been identified, and the affected property assessed and valued.   During the assessment and evaluation exercise, all PAPs (and their spouses) are required to sign on their assessment forms to confirm that what has been captured is indeed what has been taken stock of by the valuers and assessors.

This is done in the presence of local leaders, district leaders, Government representatives including staff of PAU. There is always a translator from the community who interprets the information in the local language to the PAPs. All PAPs are given a copy of the assessment form. 

The information captured is then compiled into a Valuation Report that states the compensation award for each PAP.  Compensation rates for crops and structures are determined by the District Land Boards while land rates are determined based on market value. All these are based on prevailing market rates for the financial year in question.

The PAPs will be compensated as per the valuation reports approved by the Chief Government Valuer (CGV), Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. On approval of the Valuation reports, the compensation amounts are individually disclosed to the PAPs in the presence of their spouses.

A cutoff date is announced after taking stock of affected land and properties. The announcement is meant to inform PAPs that any and all improvements made on the land following that period would not be eligible for compensation. A cut off date is essential for any project to progress from assessment to actual compensation.

Following the assessment exercise, the PAPs were advised to continue with the cultivation of seasonal crops, but any new permanent structures or long-term crops would not be compensated.  The PAPs would also be allowed to harvest all their crops and salvage any materials after compensation. Each PAP is aware of the boundaries of the project land and as such free to utilize the land outside the project footprint as he/she wishes.

The PAPs are only required to vacate project land following receipt of full compensation for said land. Currently, the only PAPs that have been requested to vacate project land are those in Tilenga Development Project RAP 1 and Kingfisher Development Area (KFDA) RAP 1 both of whom have been fully compensated and their resettlement houses completed.

All PAPs that have not been compensated remain in possession of their land and are free to keep utilizing it, within limits. Several livelihood restoration programmes in agriculture, business, financial literacy and skilling are also implemented as part of the package to support PAPs transition.

The PAPs are therefore allowed to utilize their land post-cut-off date announcement with the understanding that new developments will not be compensated, but crops can be harvested and any materials salvaged. All land surrounding and outside the project area is however not affected by the cut off dates.

It is therefore prudent to note that nobody has been evicted from their land.  After compensation, a notice to vacate will be issued with timelines within which the affected persons must move/ relocate from the project land. The PAPs are therefore encouraged to continue using their land as the process for compensation is fast-tracked by Government.

The delays occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges such as absentee landlords are regrettable;   Preparations are in high gear to resume the compensation processes within a month’s time subject to the Ministry of Health Standard operating procedures. The PAU will ensure that all PAPs are promptly, fairly and adequately compensated

Ali Ssekatawa is the Director Legal and Corporate Affairs at Petroleum Authority Uganda.

OPINION: Oil & Gas Graduates Should Be Creative

By Paul Kato

The media recently reported about oil and gas graduates petitioning the parliament over unemployment yet they are supposed to be creative.

Since 2014 over 500 graduates have graduated and only 50 graduates are employed in the oil and gas sector. This means that many of them are jobless.

Graduates need to be creative because oil and gas jobs sector is not going to be enough for graduates trained in oil and gas-related courses.

The oil and gas is expected to provide only 190,000 jobs to the graduates, therefore, people need to be creative because the jobs are not going to be enough for them.

In addition to that, the graduates should think beyond outside the box because oil and gas is expected to be extracted for a few years. This means that they need to see oil at the smaller picture.

Ugandans should learn from the COVID-19 pandemic period because many people who were working in the offices resorted to other sectors agricultural sector for survival.

For instance, people started piggery projects, poultry and planting perennial crops like banana and coffee which requires less labour.

Therefore graduates need to be creative if not, many graduates are going to be at risk of unemployment. They will also put their brains and resources to waste.

It should be noted that oil and gas in Uganda was meant to improve infrastructures like roads, schools and hospitals, projects would are supposed to provide jobs to Ugandan.

Graduates need to know that the oil and gas project is not going to satisfy all people’s needs, especially employment because from 2014 to 2020 only 50 graduates have been employed in the sector.

Therefore, I call upon government agencies like the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), local governments and local leaders to sensitize the public about local content.

Paul Kato is a research associate at Kikuube Youth Development Forum

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OPINION: Why Always Bugoma Forest?

By Paul Kato

Bugoma forest encroachment has become a topic every year. Since last year, many individuals, companies, agencies, veterans and the Bunyoro kingdom have been accused of destroying the forest.

Several groups of people in Hoima, individuals and the Non-governmental organizations like SICU and Save Bugoma forest Campaign (SBFC), African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), Chimpanzee Trust Hoima and Oil Refinery Resettlement Association among others have been campaigning for the conservation of the forest but no action has been taken by government agencies like National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).

Recently, a group of people in Hoima district wrote a letter to President Yoweri Museveni reminding him of their demands and what the president promised Bunyoro in his last presidential term. A number of demands were raised and one of them was to cancel Bugoma land title as a way of conserving the forest but no action has been taken.

Bugoma forest is being destroyed by companies like Hoima Sugar Limited which is carrying out sugar cane growing. Others destroying the forest are individuals and veterans carrying out lumbering and cultivation and oil companies carrying out oil related-activities. 

The forest is under the threat by companies, individuals, veterans and oil companies which will endanger the biodiversity hence resulting to environmental degradation, climate change, human-animal conflict in search for space and food hence resulting to Fermin, Drought and floods among others.

The forest needs to be conserved because it is very important on the environment, people’s livelihoods and the country’s economy for instance in 2017/2018 tourism contributed 10% to the country’s national budget. It also provides local herbs to local communities, help in the rain formation among others.

The forest covers an area of 401km. It is found on an escarpment east of Lake Albert on the edge of the western rift valley. The forest is well endowed with a wide range of biodiversity, for instance, it has 465 species of trees, 359 species of birds, 2899 species of butterfly and 130 species of moths among others. Therefore, the forest needs to be conserved because of its importance.

It should be noted that human activities and the oil-related- activities will not replace the forest services. In addition, oil is going to be extracted for a few years and get finished but the forest will stay serving the environment.

Therefore, I call upon NEMA, National Forestry Authority (NFA), environmental policy and local leaders to operationalize new environmental laws that are going to stop people from encroaching on Bugoma forest because the forest is very crucial to environment, country’s economy and people’s livelihoods.

Paul Kato

Research Associate at African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO)

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