By Mumbere Edwin Fanta
Uganda discovered commercially viable oil deposits in the Albertine Graben region in 2006 and has since embarked on establishing effective management procedures to promote growth and development for the country.
In light of these potentially transformative discoveries, Oil activities will certainly lead to social, cultural, economic and environmental changes for the communities and the country at large.
However Uganda faces a several challenges and these include women displaced from their land with inadequate compensation, oil pollution, limited access to Lake Albert since its waters will be used in the production of the oil, contamination of community waterways among others.
The access to land challenges, population growth and health consideration, food security, employment trends and the environment have not been left out in this thought.
Oil exploration activities such as digging of seismic wells and drillings have already led to serious changes in land ownership, conflict and displacement as well as an arrival of migrants struggling for opportunities in the Albertin Graben.
Not only is this growing migration likely to trigger population growth , increase land pressure and escalate competition among the indigenous people and newcomers and it is likely to place more demand on the already limited social services of education, health and water in the region.
The large movement of people has implications for fiscal expenditure and allocation as well making it critical to capture land issues, demographics and changes in social infrastructure aspects such as roads and telecommunications.
However there is a precedent of increased health and other social problems connected to oil related activities, for example studies from Nigeria and Ecuador documents increased health risk to communities as result of pollution from oil population and also health risks with transfer of disease by migration population to their new communities.
However, the government through its community officers at both town council and district level have not prepared the community for these challenges and has not only watched the citizens suffer but has also participated in the land grabbing syndicate.
Mumbere Edwin Fanta
Africa Institute for Energy Governance- Kasese Office.