A More Integrative Approach Needed To Realize SDGs Agenda In Uganda

By Patrick Edema

I was watching the launch of Uganda’s National Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) roadmap 2021-2025 on September 15, 2021 that was presided over by the Rt. Hon. Prime minister Robina Nabanja.

The five-year SDGs roadmap is intended to support development and social transformation, offering options to reframe economic policies and practices around sustainability for inclusive, diversified and job-intensive economic development, promoting access to and utilization of basic social and protection services that advances human rights and well-being of Ugandans.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development since its adoption in 2015 has provided a roadmap for countries to live in a sustainable world where people are prospering, peaceful and mindful of the planet. Government started implementation of this agenda through national planning, budgeting and implementation systems and frameworks.

However, achieving the 17 SDGs may not be reached especially at the time when the government is continuously investing in activities and projects that are undermining the implementation of all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that the country committed to prioritize. These have worsened the challenges of environmental degradation, climate change and effects on livelihoods especially for vulnerable groups such as women, youth, rural communities and others.

Indeed, mindful of our individual and collective responsibility as citizens, we recognize the efforts of the government to address development challenges in the country but we remind the government that there is need to recognize and protect critical biodiversity areas across the country. These areas must at all costs be protected from all destructive activities including sugarcane projects, oil and gas, biomass production and others to enable the Uganda achieve the national Sustainable Development Goals aspirations. Such activities include;

Destruction of protected biodiversity: It is noted that Uganda losses about 100,000 hectares of forest cover every year as a result of destructive human activities and according to the USAID’s Uganda Biodiversity and Tropical Forest Assessment report, “approximately 25 million tons of wood are consumed annually in Uganda with the majority of that wood being used as household firewood (65%), charcoal (16%) and commercial and industrial firewood (14%).”

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) report 2020 also indicates that at least 70.9 per cent of Ugandans were still using wood fuel, which is comprised of firewood and charcoal which has result from reducing the country’s forest cover from 24 per cent in the 1990s to just 8 per cent.

Among the protected biodiversity being destroyed from destructive activities such as sugarcane growing, timber logging and others is Bugoma forest in Bunyoro region. The conversion of Bugoma forest into a sugarcane plantation or any other land use that does not promote conservation undermines the implementation of all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other 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.

Investing in Oil and Gas developments: Under SDG 13 that calls for urgent action on climate change and its impacts, the ongoing petroleum activities in Uganda have created negative impacts and even more impacts are expected. Already, many communities have lost their land to oil developers. In addition, oil activities are taking place in and around Murchison Falls National Park, Budongo forest, River Nile, Lake Albert and other critical ecosystems.

In addition, the oil activities are expected to increase climate change through increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For instance, the three oil developments including Tilenga, Kingfisher and EACOP are expected to generate about 102 million metric tons of carbon gases per year. There is also fear that oil activities will affect the water sources that will undermine SDGs 3, 6, 14 and 15.

Shrinking operating civic space: The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 16) focusses on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels but the government of Uganda continues to deter freedom of expressions, assembly and awareness, intimidation of Civil Society Organizations that monitor and oversee government projects and developments through illegally raiding their offices, shutting them down and arresting them.

We believe that the government of Uganda may not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals targets unless such challenges faced by the Civil society actors in Uganda are addressed.

High levels of poverty and breakdown of families: Further, in 2012, the government of Uganda compulsorily acquired over 29sq. km land in Hoima district to pave way for the construction of the oil refinery. The acquisition affected 13 villages, 1,221 households and 7,118 people. Although the government made a number of commitments including adhering to national legislation and international best practices on land acquisition, to date many of the oil refinery affected people remain landless, others live in camps, family break-ups increased, children were forced out of schools and others.

In addition, the government is also in the process of acquiring land for the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) where an estimated 14,000 households, 20,000 people in Uganda have lost their land as a result of the oil pipeline. It is clear that hundreds of people will be resettled and thousands more will be affected by the associated oil development projects. Moreover, the people displaced from their land are facing challenges of fair, prompt and adequate compensation by the government. With the experience from the oil refinery affected people, where many people are landless, have no access to quality services including health, education, water and others, such cases limit the realization of the national Sustainable Development Goals in the country.

Immense threats to water resources: The oil and gas developments including Tilenga, Kingfisher and EACOP are located in sensitive ecosystems in the country such as wildlife rich regions, water sources, national parks, wetlands and others. For instance, the Kingfisher oil project is located at the shores of lake Albert where over 200,000 people especially the youth depend on the lake for fishing. Further, the EACOP project will also directly impact several Ramsar Wetlands, including the Murchison Falls, Albert Delta Wetland System and a number of Ramsar sites lying just west of Lake Victoria, including the Lake Nabugabo System, the Nabajjuzi System, and the Sango Bay on Musambwa Island yet such ecosystems are a source of water and livelihoods to many Ugandans. Therefore, any oil spill from the above oil and gas projects poses a particularly worrying risk of further devastating human impacts as well of falling short of reaching the expected targets of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals especially goal 11, 13, 14 and 15.

Gender inequality: It is clear that gender equality is an enabler and accelerator for all the Sustainable Development Goals in the country and the gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers an opportunity to achieve not only SDG 5 (gender equality), but to contribute to progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals in Uganda.

The gender equality is critical to achieving a wide range of objectives pertaining to sustainable development in Uganda including promoting economic growth and labor productivity, reducing poverty, enhancing human capital through health and education, attaining food security, addressing climate change impacts and strengthening resilience to disasters, and ensuring more peaceful and inclusive communities.

Therefore, the following should be done;

Increase investment in renewable energy to achieve the SDG 7 of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Stop all destructive activities taking place in Bugoma central forest reserve to achieve SDG 15 of protecting, restoring and promoting use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Government should stop exploring oil and gas from sensitive biodiversity including national parks, water sources, and others.

Government should stop intimidating civil society actors that are undertaking their oversight and monitoring work on the Ugandans’ projects. This will enable the country to achieve SDG 16 of Peace, Justice and Strong institutions.

Patrick Edema is an Environmental Engineer &Programs Assistant at AFIEGO

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Incorporate The Youth To Achieve SDG Goals In A Unifying Rhythm

By Brighton Aryampa

We remember the moment in 2015 that leaders from all 193 countries at the United Nations unanimously agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Countries as well as policymakers, researchers, activists, and civil society had come to realize that our combined social, economic, and environmental futures were intertwined under SDGs.

The SDGs provided a vision we all want to support and achieve, and the joy and solidarity in the room when we hit on the final resolution, it becomes palpable and inspiring.

It is not in doubt that the SDGs are becoming a unifying rallying cry and a common blueprint not only to solve Uganda’s all-round problems like poverty, hunger, gender inequality, climate change, dirty energy and others but also, it’s set to solve universal and interrelated problems by 2030. With six years past, it’s important to recognize that communities worldwide have continued to bring these Global Goals home, and make them a reality for real people in real neighborhoods.

Organizations in Uganda like AFIEGO, NAPE, Youth for Green Communities (YGC), EGI and others are taking climate action, promoting green economic alternatives such as off-grid clean energy, sustainable forestry, tourism and others identified under the Uganda Green Growth Development Strategy (UGGDS).

However, all this is not enough to achieve the global adopted goals without full involvement of young people. As noted by Ms. Elsie Attafuah, the resident coordinator United Nations Development Programme that there is no way we can achieve development without including young people which is beyond doubt true. The youth make up the nearly over 75% of the world’s largest population and life spanned to live longer than the people taking decisions now. The young people are important because they are the present and shape the future.

Today they might be our partners, tomorrow they will go on to become leaders. Considering their very energetic and enthusiastic spirits, ability to learn and adapt to the environment and willingness to learn and act on it, Africa and world at large requires young people participation to achieve the SDGs and help in taking the world towards progress.

Yes, achieving SDGs goals matter because we are more likely to mend what we measure. The SDGs offer clear benchmarks that enable people at all levels to work together toward a resilient future where no one is left behind. As a road map, they offer a foundation for partnerships to track progress at all levels as well as across countries. Through authentic commitments to the SDGs, concrete plans, actions, and goals take root. And nothing is impossible when rooted to inclusive participation and negotiations.

SDGs must be introduced to all levels. At schools across the country, students must be involved and empowered to undertake innovative research projects and collaboration with local governments for example to improve girls’ access to youth sports as a way to curb gender inequality at a civic level, end poverty, take climate change, be the 21st century leaders transition to clean energy and others. Young people must push their universities to examine their own equity and sustainability policies.

The SDGs serve as a common language and must bring us together to examine our shared struggles and discover solutions. They are really about understanding how complex issues like poverty, hunger, and inequality are interconnected, and offer a basis for collaboration among communities, CSOs, government, companies, philanthropies, and public officials to solve them.

To recognize that Indigenous communities and youth are disproportionately vulnerable to climate change or the gender implications of food security, as women and girls are often the first to go hungry when food is scarce., we must work together.

Sustainable development is strongest when we harness our collective power. It requires to connect and shine a light on individuals, youth, women, local communities, policymakers, entrepreneurs, teachers, students, and nonprofit organizations across the country to drive progress toward the SDGs.

Local and youth action is vital in achieving no poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable clean energy, climate action and other goals. Let’s work together and bring the SDGs home.

Most importantly, take nature action, restore what we have lost, defend what we are left with. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, success, and others by planting a tree. Let every celebration contribute, restore and make nature a greener better place and fight climate change that is affecting all of us to align with SDG 13 that calls for climate action.

The writer is a lawyer and Chief Executive Officer, Youth for Green Communities (YGC)

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Letter To MAAIF: Embrace Use Of Solar Energy To Reduce Postharvest Losses

By Barekye Gerald

According to Uganda Solar Water Pumping Report 2019, the government of Uganda expressed interest in promoting the productive use of energy as one of the strategies for increasing energy access and promoting more holistic development in rural communities.

Given that the agriculture sector employs the highest percentage of the population, the government of Uganda identified solar irrigation as a powerful avenue for social and economic impact in the promotion of energy access.

The agriculture sector employs about 72% of people in Uganda and this means the country has to invest a lot in the sector for maximum production.

Farmers depend on local knowledge and rudimentary tools that result in less production.

The post-harvest losses are increasing day by day, especially in wet seasons.

After farmers have harvested their produce, they use their traditional methods of drying on the floor and this exposes the products to rodents and other pests that reduce their product quality.

Using solar energy is the best option and through the solar irrigation systems, farmers will produce throughout the year. These post-harvest losses need immediate intervention to save farmers from making huge losses.

Using clean energy that is sustainable is the cheapest option that the ministry should implement to enable all farmers to adapt to the use of solar power for different farm operations.

It should be noted that most farmers add no value to the farm output and this affects the final price on the market. Using the alternative cheap source of power (solar) will enable farmers to carry out value addition on their products to fetch better prices.

For example, in Ntungamo district, farmers are losing their coffee plantations due to prolonged drought that is making coffee trees dry. This has left many coffee farmers with no option other than cutting them down for firewood. This is due to the lack of cheap irrigation equipment and power in the areas.

Embracing the use of solar energy that is powered by the sun will help farmers to run water pumps for irrigation and other activities on the farm like drying and in greenhouses.

The ministry of agriculture should know that solar energy is the best and affordability solution for crop drying, greenhouse gas heating, water pump system for crop production, and small-scale irrigation.

It’s also an economical and sustainable source of power and reduces the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  The ministry of agriculture should provide solar at affordable prices to farmers to reduce postharvest losses to increase production for the country to remain food secure and embracing the use of Solar energy will be the best option to tap in.

 Barekye Gerald, Research Associate at AFIEGO        

EAC, AU Should Take Climate Change Seriously To Save & Serve Lives

As Africa joins the rest of the world in grappling with the disastrous impacts of Covid-19, we need the same urgent efforts to address climate change. Climate change is having a growing impact on the African continent, hitting the most vulnerable hardest, and contributing to food insecurity, population displacement and stress on water resources. In recent months we have seen devastating floods, an invasion of desert locusts and now face the looming spectre of drought in many Africa Countries not excluding Uganda, Kenya and others.

In Kasese District, western Uganda the rivers overflowed, flooding wide areas of Kasese district. The waters of lake Kyoga also have kept rising submerging areas of Amolator district in the northern region of Uganda. The flooding keeps worsening further inland areas. Lives, homes, crops and roads have all suffered damage. In Namasale Sub- County alone, about 400 households have been displaced and about 2,000 gardens have been submerged by floods. About 500 people who have been displaced are now cultivating in Ajuka Forest Reserve in Nabwoyo Parish.”

These keep happening every year, In August 2020 the government in Uganda reported rising water levels on Lake Albert and Lake Kyoga had displaced over 8,700 people in Buliisa, Nakasongola and Amolatar districts. Other areas like Bududa and others are facing landslides. As these parts in the country keep suffering floods, the areas of Mbarara, Masaka corridor, Kampala, Wakiso and other surrounding districts are stuck with a long period without rain not forgetting the locust invasion.

In Kenya, the mere mention of the term El Nino brings bad memories to Kenyans who were affected by the heavy downpour around 1997 and 1998. That kind of rain has not been experienced since then. There are erratic rains nowadays, the month of July is not as cold as it used to be, and people who used to reap from their farms twice a year are now reaping once.

It is on record that Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Sudan, and Niger, are among the world’s top 10 nations to be the worst affected by climate change through disruptions to productivity in key economic sectors including agriculture, roads, dams, and other infrastructure according to the new Global Climate Index 2021 released by German watch.

Reality is clear now that Climate change is no longer a political or economic issue. It’s a human rights issue, perhaps the biggest one in human history. If we continue spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, degrading and polluting the environment, we are not only destroying ecosystems and driving species to extinction, we indirectly violating human rights.

Based on the United Nations Environment Programme outlined in its 2015 climate change and human rights report, extreme weather events are more prevalent in a warming world, leading to death, destruction of property and crops and limited access to food, water, shelter, healthcare and education. The African governments must understand that environmental collapse as well as climate change specifically is completely a cross-cutting issue. Our leaders and responsible authorities must understand what’s at stake for humanity and the human rights threats if we continue to delay climate action.

Human rights are intimately linked with climate change because of its devastating effect on not just the environment, but our own wellbeing. In addition to threatening our very existence, climate change is having harmful impacts on our rights to life, health, food, water, housing and livelihoods.

The longer governments wait to take meaningful action, the harder the problem becomes to solve, and the greater the risk that emissions will be reduced through means that increase inequality rather than reduce it. Every time the African governments delay to take action, they are aiding to the extinction of wildlife, extinction of green nature of Africa, Drought and its devastating results, High temperatures, Shifting of seasons, deaths of tax payers and other climate change impacts.

The impacts of climate change we face today are not just about our future, our future generation. This is about the lives that are being lost today and the people that are being displaced today and living at a risk. Women and children are 14 times more likely to die in climate change disasters, according to the U.N. Women make up most of the world’s poor, and women tend to rely more heavily on natural resources for their livelihoods and societal gender roles. They are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate-related events as they are less able to protect themselves against it and will find it harder to recover.

Indigenous people are among the communities most impacted by climate change. They live-in marginal lands and fragile ecosystems which are particularly sensitive to alterations in the physical environment. They maintain a close connection with nature and their traditional lands on which their livelihoods and cultural identity depend. Future generations will experience the worsening effects unless action is taken now by governments.

Yes, Africa’s Agenda 2063, which was concluded in 2013, recognizes climate change as a major challenge for the continent’s development. Since 2015, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement have become the main instrument for guiding policy responses to climate change. Fifty-two (52) African countries have submitted their first NDCs and by now should have submitted the revised NDCs. The question that lies in the hearts of African leaders are; are they taking action? Are they following up on the terms and obligations agreed in the 2016 agreement by all the parties?

It is also not in doubt that Africa promised great efforts in driving the global climate agenda. This is demonstrated by the very high levels of ratification of the Paris Agreement – over 90%. Many African nations committed to transitioning to green energy within a relatively short time frame. Clean energy and agriculture are, for example, prioritized in over 70% of African NDCs. This ambition needs to be an integral part of setting the economic development priorities of the continent. But are these efforts implemented or the commitment has remained on paper.

Look at Uganda and Tanzania, the governments of two countries alongside France’s Total Energies (formerly Total) and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) are pushing against all environmental, climate and social warnings to develop the EACOP oil project. In April 2021, the governments alongside the aforementioned oil companies signed three key agreements to pave way for development of the pipeline.

What do these agreements mean to the efforts of Africa towards unlocking itself into clean energy transition? What do they mean to the efforts taken by the parties of the Paris agreement to fight climate change? It is one thing to agree on something, it is another to enforce it. The enforcers of the Paris agreement should implement the terms of the agreement or declare it defunct.

This is a call to African governments that they must know that many options lie ahead of us, but the most effective ones are those that reduce greenhouse gas emissions as fast as possible. Humanity’s best-case scenario is to immediately transition into clean-energy economies, fair and equitable systems that don’t exploit lower classes but instead empower and enrich communities. The longer we take to do this, the more we will have to rely on costly technologies that could have harmful impacts on human rights.

To the African governments, lets focus on our roots of agricultural sector which employs over 60% of Africa’s population, value-addition techniques using efficient and clean energy sources are reported to be capable of reducing poverty two to four times faster than growth in any other sector.

Solar-powered, efficient micro-irrigation is increasing farm-level incomes by five to 10 times, improving yields by up to 300% and reducing water usage by up to 90% while at the same time offsetting carbon emissions by generating up to 250 kW of clean energy. Don’t get caught up in making jobs like oil jobs and kill the present and future generations. When we keeping accepting investments from fossil fuel companies, when we fail to hold Europe, China accountable for their contributions on the climate change problem. Africa loses and they win.

To the youth, let us read about climate change because it is already affecting us. When we know these issues, we shall make a choice whether to join movements all over the world to climate change crisis or to watch our world perish. I call the youth of Uganda in particular to stand up against the destruction of Bugoma central forest, the bad EACOP project and oil threats.

The world is in a crisis. Climate change is a world problem that needs world joint solutions. Local communities, young people, women, developed and developing countries must be on board to make meaningful change or the future of humanity stays on the brink of extinction. I commend and thank 350.org, Fridays for Future, Youth for Green Communities (YGC), Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), Inclusive Green Economy Network East Africa (IGENEA) and other partners campaigning for a just energy transition to increase clean energy access while stopping dirty energy investments in East Africa and Africa at large.

ARYAMPA BRIGHTON. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The writer is a lawyer and Chief Executive Officer, Youth for Green Communities (YGC)

Role Of Youth In Peace Building

By Gerald Barekye

In Uganda about 77% of the population are youth and this makes it the country with the highest percentage of young people in the world an implication that greater attention needs to be paid to the requirements, fears, and challenges of youth.

The inclusion of youth in peacebuilding is critical for ensuring sustainable and inclusive peace as recognized by the UN resolution security council on youth peace and security.

Youth play a big role in peacebuilding that includes strengthening community cohesion and reconciliation, civic awareness for peaceful social relations and development programs in communities, trust-building across different cultures, community entrepreneurship, and livelihood training.

The youth have been at the forefront in peacebuilding processes but their contribution has been ignored and not appreciated because they are seen as potentially dangerous subjects and the policy approach regards them as a “problem” especially male group of youth between 18-30 have been observed as the main political violent group,  vulnerable, powerless and feared as threats to the security.

From experience, when  I  joined working as a youth peacebuilder many people called me an enemy who was trying to destabilize peace since I was not security personnel and had no money, the community felt that was very young to build initiatives that could create sustainable impact and most thought I  had no agenda to drive peace.

This didn't stop me from proceeding with my work as a peacebuilder and I have managed to form a community-based organization called peacebuilders coalition and youth development and advocacy in Ntungamo district, using these organizations I have managed to recruit and train more youth peace ambassadors and this has changed and contributed to the sustainable peace in the district and country at large.  

Therefore youth must be involved in decision making at all levels because, we can make good decisions and good actions to achieve the objective of the African Union agenda 2063 and objectives of UN youth strategy 2030 because, we a source of peace, we want our voices to be heard, we no longer want to be represented by our peers in conferences, international meetings, and forums for discussion and dialogue, we want to act ourselves.

Gerald Barekye, National coordinator young peace Builders Uganda

Review Oil Pipeline Compensation Rates

By Paul Kato

As government and the oil companies officials plan to resume working next month, they need to start by reviewing the compensation rates for the East Africa Crude Pipeline (EACOP) Project Affected Persons (PAPs) to avoid any disruptions. 

Recently the media reported that EACOP PAPs from the districts of Rakai and Kyotera were complaining about the unfair compensation rates which were imposed on their land, crops, and other properties.

The aggrieved residents say the rates are not in line with the current market value of their properties. 

The oil pipeline affected persons are frustrated because of the unfair compensations rates that were used by the government and the oil companies during the valuation processes of their properties.

This is likely to create misunderstandings between the developers and the PAPs hence resulting in the failure of project developments and loss of people’s livelihoods. 

It is noted that some of the PAPs are disputing the compensation rates that were used to define the value of their properties because they are not proportionate compared to the accumulating land prices in the area.

This means that such little sums of money cannot be used to obtain similar land for resettlement in other areas.

The government started conducting the evaluation process of properties of the EACOP and finished product oil pipeline in 2018/2019 using the prices of that year.

Today the price of these properties such as land and crops have gone up but the government is still using the prices of 2018/2019 which are too low compared to the current market prices.

The oil companies and government need to review the compensation rates to settle the people’s hearts and put to end misunderstandings that could happen and fail the oil pipeline projects.

It should be noted that when that government and oil companies fail to review the compensation rates most of the PAPs will not manage to buy new land for resettlement and farming.

The government needs to learn from what happened to the oil refinery PAPs where many people todate are suffering because of the small money which was given to them during the oil refinery compensation process.

The expected EACOP project, snaking from Hoima in Western Uganda to Tanga port in Tanzania, will cross 10 districts such as Kikuube, Kakumiro, Kyotera, Rakai among others in Uganda.

It will go through 27 sub-counties and 171 villages. The pipeline is estimated to be 1443km long of which 296km will be in Uganda.

It will require a 30metres right of way. This means the construction of the EACOP project is going to affect many families and their livelihoods.

Therefore, I call on the government of Uganda and the oil companies to review the compensation rates of PAPs in order to stop people from refusing the project. 

Paul Kato is a research associate at Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO)

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Letter To President: Kindly Sign Climate Change Bill 2020 Into Law To Address Climate Challenges In Uganda

By Patrick Edema

Dear Mr. President, allow me to take this opportunity to thank you and your government for the leadership role you are playing in Uganda’s path for development from 1986 to date. In particular, I thank you for your continued struggles of moving our poor people out of poverty and to tame the worsening environmental destruction including your recent directive of stopping those degrading wetlands, lakes and river banks, forests and others in Uganda.

Your excellency, on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, the Parliament of Uganda passed the Climate Change Bill 2020 to implement climate change response measures in line with the resolutions from international conventions such as the Paris Agreement 2016, the Kyoto Protocol 2004 and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 1994 once assented into a law. The country ratified to the above agreements but we are yet to domesticate these Agreements or Protocols to address the challenges posed by climate change.

It is evident that climate change threatens Uganda’s economy, national security, public health and safety with the majority of rural communities already experiencing to its impacts especially the women, youth and elderly groups being disproportionately affected across the country.

Your excellency, in the past 5 years alone, storms, floods, droughts, and hunger have been witnessed in different regions of Uganda such as Kasese, Bududa districts where communities have lost their properties and also being displaced from their land. This has caused government’s billions of shillings in damages and as the effects continue to increase the frequency and severity of these climate change effects, it increases the burden on all taxpayers to pay for disaster relief and recovery in the country.

Moreover, the government has and is investing billions of shillings in the oil and gas developments including the EACOP, Tilenga and Kingfisher oil projects that are projected to generate about 102 million metric tons of carbon emissions equivalent per year which will further worsen the impacts of climate change in the country. The oil and gas are expected to further worsen the already existing human and environmental challenges thereby undermining the efforts of fighting climate change.

I believe that you have the support of the majority of Ugandans including companies, military leaders, scientists, engineers, and all other groups to respond to the threats posed by climate change by reducing carbon pollution and expanding clean renewable energy through signing the Climate Change Bill 2020 into law.

And since Ugandans are in favor of the climate change law in place, assure them that the policies that will help to cut greenhouse gas emissions, curb air and water pollution, accelerate clean renewable energy growth, innovation and jobs are operationalized and signed.

Therefore, through this letter, Ugandans are requesting you to urgently sign the Climate Change Bill 2020 as a declaration of commitment to protect Ugandans and other natural resources from the impacts of climate change. We are confident and comforted by the fact that despite the many environmental conservation issues and other challenges our country is going through, the climate change law will among other promote and safeguard our critical biodiversity and natural heritage across the country.

Thank you. 

Yours faithfully,

Patrick Edema

Programs Assistant at AFIEGO

Oil & Gas Drilling, A Dirty Business For The Environment And Local Communities

The oil industry, especially the exploration of oil, has destructive environmental impacts. Oil extraction involves several environmental pollution processes.

A United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2007 report indicates that oil and gas exploration impact on the environment in many negative ways by exposing it to oil leakages and spills, gas flaring, and deforestation as a result of the creation of access routes to new areas.

Gas flaring without temperature or emissions control pollutes the air and releases unacceptably high levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The environmental pollution associated with oil exploration has serious implications for the survival of species in communities near oil reserves.

Oil spillage massively pollutes water bodies thereby threatening fisheries and reducing tourism, harming bird life and severely affecting ecological ocean life (UNCTAD 2007).

The environmental pollution caused by oil drilling also results in a destruction of livelihoods in local communities making it difficult for the present and future generations to make a living off of their land. Farming and fishing activities, the mainstay of these economies, literally grind to a halt with the exploration of oil.

The local traditional occupations will no longer be sustainable due to the destruction of the environment through oil explorations, the vulnerability and powerlessness of the local people, particularly women, will further put them in vulnerable positions.

First, whatever pittances are paid as compensation claims are usually paid to the men because of the status they hold in society either as land owners or heads of families. Secondly, no significant efforts are being made to develop alternative means of livelihood for them.

The young men and women of communities near oil reserves remain unemployed. It is noteworthy to say that jobs in the oil industry mostly go to well-paid expatriates and Ugandans from less marginalized parts of the country closest to the oil fields will get casual jobs which may only come when there is the need to clean oil spills or pipeline bursts.

One of the other disturbing effects of oil exploration on communities near oil reserves is its impact on cultural practices, specifically the ways in which otherwise benign cultural practices might be rendered problematic in the face of changes resulting from the discovery of oil.

A good case in point is the ways in which commercial sex work can increase with potentially more disastrous consequences in such communities.

Oil exploration leads to a decline in farming/fishing as viable economic ventures thus increasing the propensity for women to choose commercial sex work for income generating purposes.

In addition, the influx of foreign oil workers who are often paid large sums of money as expatriates makes the profession of commercial sex work potentially more lucrative in such communities.

Oil and gas drilling is a dirty business that has serious consequences for our eco-systems and communities. Drilling projects operate around the clock, disrupting wildlife, water sources, human health and recreation. 

The oil and gas industry is encroaching upon too many of our nation’s unspoiled bio-diversity. And the consequences could be devastating for the environment and local communities.

Oil and gas extraction is a menace to wildlife. Loud noises, human movement and vehicle traffic from drilling operations can disrupt avian species’ communication, breeding and nesting. Big oil spills are known killers of wildlife.

Just think back to the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The resulting spill covered 68,000 square miles of sea surface and killed approximately 1 million coastal and offshore seabirds, 5,000 marine mammals and 1,000 sea turtles.

Smaller spills, including of other substances in the oil extraction process, don’t always make the headlines but can also be dangerous. During oil extraction on land, drilling fluids are injected into the well for lubrication.

These oil-based fluids known as "mud" are supposed to be captured in lined pits for disposal, but they’re often spilled and splashed around the drilling site.

These spills can have long-term environmental impacts and devastating effects on animals through direct contact, inhalation and ingestion of toxic chemicals.

In spite of these risks, the government of Uganda has continued to open game parks like the Queen Elizabeth national park and water sources like Lake Albert to drilling.

Oil and gas production are among the main culprits of air pollution as one of the world’s biggest killers according to the United Nations.

When fossil fuels are burned by power plants, automobiles and industrial facilities, they generate toxic gases. Breathing this air can trigger respiratory problems such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, developmental issues and even cancer.

The health risks from oil and gas extraction are not limited to air pollution. The drilling method of “fracking” is known for contaminating drinking water sources with chemicals that lead to cancer, birth defects and liver damage.

The controversial method injects a mixture of water and chemicals into rock formations to release oil and gas. As a result, it generates huge volumes of wastewater with dangerous chemicals that can leak to lakes, agricultural land and underground aquifers.

Infrastructure built for oil and gas extraction can leave behind radical impacts on the land. The construction of roads, facilities and drilling sites known as well pads requires the use of heavy equipment and can destroy big chunks of pristine wilderness. The damage is often irreversible.

Development of oil and gas complexes can cause serious and long-term damage to land, including stripping the environment of vegetation increasing erosion which can lead to landslides and flooding disturbing the land’s ground surface and seriously fragmenting unspoiled wildlife habitats.

The Ugandan government should rethink its practice of leasing public lands to the fossil fuel industry. They should also regulate leaks and deliberate discharge of toxic wastes on our lands and water sources.

Ultimately, the goal should be to install renewable energy projects at appropriate “low-impact” sites on community lands to accelerate the country’s transition from dirty to clean energy.

Rachael Amongin - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

OPINION: Financial Institutions Must Go Slow On Financing Oil Activities In Eco-Sensitive Areas In Uganda

By Bilcriton Bikorwaruhanga 

During the 7th Annual Oil and Gas Convention which took place on July 4, 2021, Mr David Mparuta, the Absa Bank head of enterprise and suppliers' chain development, corporate, and investment banking, said the bank is ready to provide financial support to investors in the oil and gas sector.

Also, Stanbic Bank, a member of Standard Bank Group, said it can offer up $70 million to a single company investing in the oil and gas sector in Uganda.

Other financial institutions including China's ICBC and Japan's SMBC have also shown interest in helping oil companies to secure over $2.5 billion project loan required for the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

Unfortunately, in April 2021, Ugandan and Tanzanian government officials signed final agreements with the French oil multinational TotalEnergies and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to extract about 1.7 billion barrels of oil from a 425-square-mile drilling zone that is located in the national park and below a UNESCO wetland.

Also, over 2,000 square kilometres of protected wildlife habitats will also be negatively impacted by the EACOP project.  

Therefore, as a concerned citizen of Uganda, I am writing to you, the financial institutions with deep concern about the potential negative impacts the above oil projects are going to impose on the environmental conservation efforts of these eco-sensitive areas and on the livelihoods of the communities. 

Also, I am calling on all stakeholders ranging from cultural, religious, political, and technical leaders to come out and advise our government, oil companies, and financial institutions to stop and avoid any oil activities taking place in eco-sensitive areas for the better of our present environment and future generations.

I present to you the most likely threats to our Water Resources and Biodiversity if the government and oil companies go ahead and extract oil from the above eco-sensitive areas.

As well as severe impacts on local communities and their rights, the ongoing oil projects threaten one of the world's most ecologically diverse, wildlife-rich regions.

It threatens Uganda's oldest and largest nature reserve, the Murchison Falls National Park, which would be opened up to large-scale oil extraction at a time when the world is acting to urgently reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

Over 425-square-mile drilling zone and 2,000 square kilometers of protected wildlife habitats will be negatively impacted by Tilenga, Kingfisher, and EACOP oil projects respectively.

Tilenga and Kingfisher will greatly threaten the conservation efforts of the Albertine Rift which supports some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet.

This colossal network of mountains, valleys, wetlands, and savannah comprises just over one percent of the African continent's landmass, yet claims more than half of its birds, 40 percent of its mammals, and some 500 species of plant and animal found nowhere else.

Also, the projects extend to the northern sector of this geologic wonder, a craggy escarpment rolls down to a grassy plain, flanked by Lake Albert on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Murchison Falls National Park, one of Africa's natural treasures.

More so, the EACOP pipeline will also impact the Taala and Bugoma Forest Reserves, the latter home to large groups of Eastern Chimpanzees.

Some 500 square kilometres of wildlife corridors for the Eastern Chimpanzee and African elephants are likely to be severely degraded.

The project will also directly impact several Ramsar Wetlands including the Murchison Falls-Albert Delta Wetland System and a number of Ramsar sites lying just west of Lake Victoria, including the Lake Nabugabo System, the Nabajjuzi System, and the Sango Bay-Musambwa Island.

Oil spills from the EACOP pose a particularly worrying risk of further devastating human impacts.

 About one-third of the EACOP will be built in the Lake Victoria basin, a source of water and livelihood for up to 40 million people.

To put major national parks, wetlands, rivers, and lakes, not to mention the livelihoods of millions at risk, is as dangerous as it is unacceptable. 

For God and my country

Bikorwaruhanga Bilcriton the EACOP project-affected Youth

National Forestry Authority Should Respect Forest Reserves

By Paul Kato

Recently, the media reported that local authorities in Butambala district were protesting a move by National Forest Authority (NFA) to replace the indigenous trees in Nawandigi Forest Reserve with exotic tree species.

This was too bad because the natural forest reserves surely cannot be replaced by artificial forests. We all know that when these eucalyptus trees grow up, they will be cut for timber and firewood.  This means that no forest will be seen again.

In Butambala, National Forestry Authority, mandated to manage all the central forest reserves, was cutting down the indigenous tree species such as Mvule, Musizi, and Mahogany in the forest and replacing them with eucalyptus trees which are not suitable for the soils and the climate for the district.

The replacement of natural forest reserves with artificial forests is likely to happen in other forests like Bugoma and Zoka forest reserves that are already under pressure from other human activities like farming.

The NFA should know that the Eucalyptus trees have adverse ecological impacts like the decline in soil fertility through acidification, reduction in forage availability due to allopathic effect, and a decline in the availability of groundwater.

Eucalyptus trees highly compete for soil nutrients with other plants and don’t provide shelter and food for native fauna among others. In addition to that, the NFA needs to know that Eucalyptus and wildlife do not go hand in hand.  

The NFA needs to conserve the natural forest reserves such as Nawandigi, Zoka, Bugoma, and Mabira among other because they are better habitat for wildlife.  

It is also noted that these natural forest reserves created naturally nature have got a lot of environmental advantages. Natural forest reserves provide a variety of food and shelter to animals, provide natural oxygen, local herbs, attract rainfall, and reduce gas emissions in the atmosphere.

National Forestry Authority shouldn’t replace natural forest reserves with Eucalyptus trees which don’t contribute much to the environment, economy, and people’s livelihoods.

The replacement of the natural forests with artificial forests will cause a shortage of food and shelter for animals hence leading to human-animal conflicts, an outbreak of diseases resulting from an interaction between the animals and people and destruction of food crop and other.

I call on all the natural forest host communities, local leaders, the government of Uganda, and all environmentalists to ensure that our natural forest reserves are not replaced by Eucalyptus trees which don’t contribute much to the country’s economy, people’s livelihoods, and environment.

Paul Kato

Research Associate at African Institute for Energy Governance

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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