Global Rights Alert and 28 of her partners have written to Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Joseph Kabila of Democratic Republic of Congo calling on the two leaders to stop any planned oil projects on Lake Edward.
The 2,325 square kilometre lake located in the Albertine Rift Valley is shared by both countries. GRA wants Presidents Museveni and Kabila to take a firm commitment not to permit any mining or oil licenses throughout the entire Lake Edward and Greater Virunga Landscape.
“We encourage your Excellencies to consider and respect the people’s voices to cancel and stop the licensing of oil blocks, Block V and Ngaji, located respectively in DRC’s Virunga National Park landscape and Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park landscape and to focus your efforts to promote a green economy as the only hope to guarantee a better future for both the present and future generations in the region,” the petition reads in part.
The petition states that the planned activities in Ngali oil Block on the Uganda side and Block V on the DR Congo side will affect the entire lake’s eco system and the communities whose livelihoods depend on the lake. The planned oil activities will also affect the wildlife and eco system of Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda and DRC Virunga National Park, UNESCO World Heritage site.
The petition reminds the two governments of their obligations to the respect laws and international legal instruments signed by Uganda and DR Congo which call for protection and conservation of protected areas.
GRA and her partners want the two governments to look at the long term benefits of preserving the lake as well as the tourism sites which bring in much needed foreign exchange in terms of tourism dollars. In 2014 alone, tourism contributed 9.9% of Uganda’s GDP. The sector also created some 592, 500 jobs in Uganda, increasing disposable income and enabling Ugandans to live a better life.