Government Told To Sensitise Communities On EACOP Risks

The EACOP like many crude pipelines pose social and environment risks that must be addressed The EACOP like many crude pipelines pose social and environment risks that must be addressed

By Nelson Mugisha & Ivan Ssegujja

We are Community Based Monitors (CBMs) or environmentalists from Lwengo and Kikuube districts. These districts are two of ten through which the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project will be constructed.

Recently, we attended a meeting during which we were sensitized on the potential environmental and biodiversity impacts of the EACOP project. We did not know that the project had very many risks! We would like to thank Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) and others for sensitizing us on these risks.

Among the risks of the EACOP is the looming construction of the EACOP in between Wambabya and Bugoma forest. Those two forests are important habitats or corridor forests for chimpanzees. Chimpanzees live in Bugoma forest while they use Wambabya as a route, or a road if you may call it that, through which they travel to find food, mates and others.

There is something interesting about chimpanzees, our close cousins who share over 98% of our DNA. If they are to survive, they cannot in-breed. Chimpanzees in Bugoma forest therefore need Wambabya forest to move to say Budongo forest to find mates so that they don’t in-breed.

However, the EACOP project is going to affect Wambabya forest, thereby undermining chimpanzee’s ability to move, breed and survive. This is unfortunate. As community people, we don’t know what the EACOP project developers will do to ensure that we don’t lose chimpanzees, which are very important for research that benefits human beings and for tourism.

In addition, many wetlands associated with Lake Victoria and River Katonga in Greater Masaka and elsewhere are set to be affected by the EACOP. Greater Masaka is made up of the districts of Masaka, Lwengo, Ssembabule, Rakai and Kyotera. Save for Masaka, the rest have been affected by the EACOP.

Information available to us indicates that the Lake Mburo-Nakivali, Sango Bay-Musambwa Island-Kagera and Nabajjuzi wetland systems have been affected by the EACOP.

Others include Lake Nabugabo, Mabamba Bay and Lutembe Bay.

Communities rely on these wetland systems for clean water access and for fishing. Yet communities largely remain unaware that these wetlands have been affected by the EACOP and how their lives will be changed.

More must be done by government to fully sensitize communities on all the EACOP risks so that communities fully know what they face.

Nelson Mugisha and Ivan Ssegujja

EACOP Community Based Monitors

 

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