Global Rights Alerts Using Directory To Address Disputes In Oil Host Communities

In December 2022, Global Rights Alert (GRA), a Non-Governmental Organization that aims to make natural resources benefit Ugandans, launched the Community Monitoring Directory.

According to GRA, the directory is a simple guide to handling community issues, especially in the Oil & Gas host communities.

In this brief interview, Lydia Ainomugisha, the Communications Manager at GRA, explains how the directory is addressing disputes arising in the Oil and Gas host communities. 

Your organization recently launched a community directory, what exactly is it all about?

The Global Rights Alert Community Monitoring Directory is a referral pathway that was developed by GRA to help people report issues in their communities through the right channels.

Prior to developing this tool, we realized that some issues are never resolved because they are reported to the wrong people, and sometimes at the wrong time.

For instance, imagine if you report a defilement case to the area LC1, it will stall, and later fail; by the time you remember to report to police, evidence would already be destroyed.

How does this directory work and how do you implement it as GRA?

The directory works in such a way that when an issue is reported, the victim will be advised on the right office to report his or her case. For example, the first step to reporting a land case is the area LC I chairperson.

Who does the directory capture?

For now, the directory is capturing issues that mainly affect people in oil-host communities. Many of these issues arise from activities of the sector such as compensation.

What does GRA want to achieve with directory?

GRA’s core mandate is to make natural resources benefit people. With the directory in place, we have established structures within our communities to help people solve issues at cheaper and easier manner.

The community directory seeks to provide different actors with the necessary information.

Lessons from our community monitoring system provide us with evidence that timely communication and the right referrals are key to solving daily challenges and mitigating human rights violations.


Put Oil Host Communities At Centre Of Uganda’s Oil & Gas Management

By Cirrus Kabaale

Over the past years, oil developments activities have gained momentum at different levels of; commissioning of oil rigs, exploitation, legal and institution frameworks. The outcomes of exploitation and prospects are highly suggestively that oil and the prospects of Uganda joining oil producing countries is, but a reality. The first barrel of oil is over the horizon.

Oil has attracted different players with varying interests and notable among these are the international oil companies and finance institutions who are already making a kill. The companies operating in Uganda include TotalEnergies and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). Interestingly, the host communities who are key stakeholders are increasingly becoming passive participants in the unfolding oil bonanza. Community participation and involvement is, but lost in the scramble for oil in the Albertine region.

Participatory resource management is a catchphrase today, synonymous with sound, balanced and efficacious environmental conservation and sustainable development. Citizen participation, as it is widely known, is a major benchmark of the democratisation process spreading duly to embrace social action, social problem solving and all other social processes and units.

The basic assumption is that the empowerment of the individuals, at the grassroots, and communities especially in relation to their immediate environment and the intimate details of their everyday life lies at the root of sound democratic practices, the functioning of the democratic systems. Resource conservation must inter-marry with democracy in order to be wholesome and meaningful.

In other words, participatory resource management as is well known, it is a well-entrenched core principle in social action and social practice these days. It is a binding principle and requirement. It is an absolute requirement and obligation. Without it, we would have completely overlooked the cardinal criteria of equity. And without it resource development ventures by investors and governments would ever more continue to appear as raids on what is people’s own resource because the people invariably depend on these resources for their survival.

Similarly, the exploitation of one resource tends to cut off other livelihoods such as oil developments versus fishing on Lake Albert. The key principles in resource management venture today are equity, priority and implementation. Citizen participation is benchmark of equity. It is also key criteria in implementation today since without it a resource extraction venture that has effectively excluded citizen participation today are tainted products. They are warped and questionable.

However, there are fears that the oil companies and government has not extensively consulted the community, and thus that oil resources may not be used to adequately respond to the unique needs of that community. In this case the people feel that oil may present skewed opportunities and risks where only persons in positions of influence and power stand to benefit at the expense of the poor and marginalized.

This feeling of marginalisation is exacerbated by what the community call a sense of secrecy that surrounds the oil-related activities in the region.

Following the recent community meetings organized by Environment Governance Institute (EGI) with residents of the Kyakapere and Nzunzu A& B villages in Kikuube district claim that sometimes, especially at night, they see vessels on lake Albert carrying away unidentified materials from the oil pads sites.  They wonder why these vessels only operate in the dark of night. One community member even wondered: “Could it be that they are already taking way the oil without our knowledge?

While this is highly unlikely, it shows that secrecy and limited access to information by the community breeds all sorts of rumours and anxiety.

In the extreme, the locals feel that they may ultimately not benefit much from the oil industry if activities are not carried out in a transparent manner. What is required, therefore, is improved engagement and communication with local communities regarding the activities in the oil and gas sector and how such activities are likely to affect their usual way of life.

For God and My Country

Cirrus Kabaale, Programs and Research Coordinator at Environment Governance Institute (EGI)

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