AFIEGO's Report Accuses EACOP Of Impoverishing Project Affected Persons

The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project has, to a great extent, impoverished the Project Affected People (PAPs), a research report released November 7, 2023 by Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) reveals.

The NGO says the research was conducted between April and November 2023. Two hundred and thirty-seven (237) respondents from 31 villages, 16 sub-counties and six of the ten EACOP-affected districts in Uganda participated in the research.

The participants were drawn from districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Mubende, Lwengo and Kyotera. They included EACOP project-affected persons, local council leaders, women, the elderly and cultural as well as opinion leaders.

The research assessed the impact that the EACOP project has had on the affected people’s access to land, the productivity of the replacement land that the affected people acquired after being displaced for the EACOP and the changes in income the affected people experienced after being displaced for the EACOP.

The research also assessed whether the EACOP had enhanced the affected people’s access to social services such as schools, health centres and cleans water among others. The EACOP-affected people’s access to employment opportunities in the oil and gas sector was also assessed among others.

The Chief Executive Officer of AFIEGO, Dickens Kamugisha, argues that the Ugandan government and other promoters of the oil and gas industry in Africa have made arguments that the industry is needed to promote socio-economic growth; however, this has not been the case. "Our research shows that instead of improving the socioeconomic conditions of the affected people, the EACOP led to a regression in the affected people’s lives.

We hope that the Ugandan government and other stakeholders will use this study, and others that highlight the impact of the oil and gas sector on the affected people, to promote better investment choices. It is best to invest in sectors that have a positive socio-economic impact on Ugandans.”

Amina Acola, a lawyer, says the study showed that the EACOP project developers have contravened various rights that the affected people should have enjoyed as guaranteed under Uganda’s Constitution. "Among others, the affected people’s property rights and their right to make a living were negatively impacted by the project. CSOs can support the affected people to seek justice through litigation among others,” Acola said.

Comfert Aganyira of AFIEGO explains that the study also demonstrated a failure by the EACOP project proponents to comply with key provisions under the International Finance Corporation (IFC) standards, especially standard 5 which provides for restoration of project-affected people to the same or a better position after their displacement. We hope that financial institutions will take note of this while deciding whether to participate in the EACOP project or not, she stated.

The following are some of the research findings as indicated in the report.

• That 96.6% of the EACOP-affected people who received cash compensation and bought replacement land between 2022 and June 2023 did not get land equivalent to that taken for the EACOP project.

• The above failure arose from the fact that the affected people received delayed, inadequate and unfair compensation. 78.1% of the respondents that participated in the study indicated that the EACOP compensation they received was delayed, unfair and inadequate. 

• In addition, the people indicated that the value of land in their local areas appreciated in value. For instance, 7% more affected persons indicated that an acre of land in their local areas cost between UGX 11 to 20 million after their displacement while 13.1% more people indicated that an acre of land cost more than UGX 21 million after their displacement. This made buying equivalent replacement land difficult.

• The research also found that the majority of the affected people’s replacement land was less productive than that that they owned before the EACOP. For instance, 41.4% indicated that their replacement land was of low productivity while 33.3% indicated that it was of medium productivity. Only 11.4% noted that their replacement land was productive while 3.3% indicated that their land is very productive. Changing seasons, contributed to by the fossil fuel industry, were also cited as a barrier to good crop productivity.

• In relation to crop productivity, the research found that the affected people experienced changes in crop harvests after their displacement for the pipeline. The most notable change was seen in the affected persons who used to harvest over 51kg of crops per year. A decline of 14.8% was see in the above persons.

• The research assessed the changes in income experienced by the affected people. The study established that there was a reduction in the PAPs’ income after their displacement. For instance, the number of affected persons earning an average annual income of over UGX 300,000 per year declined by 20.8% after the people’s displacement.

• The study also established that 49% of the EACOP-affected people that participated in the study obtained loans. When asked what the loans were acquired for, 65.8% of the respondents indicated that they wanted to feed their families, 28.7% indicated that they wanted to enhance their businesses and 5.4% indicated that they wanted to buy replacement land or complete their resettlement houses. Among others, access to food was difficult for the affected households due to land use restrictions placed on the affected people’s property due to the EACOP project.

• In relation to social services, the study found that 37% children of school-going age from the households that participated in the study were out of school. 21% of these were girls while 16% were boys. In addition, only 15% of the affected people that participated in the study had access to safe water.

• Further, none of the research’s respondents, majority of whom were of working age, were employed in the oil and gas sector.

Oil Project-Affected Persons Protest Over Delayed Justice

Households whose land in Hoima district was acquired for the Kabaale Industrial Park, commonly known as the oil refinery project, yesterday protested against the Ugandan judiciary’s failure to dispense them with justice. The protest took place in Hoima district.

Those whose land was compulsorily acquired by TotalEnergies for the Tilenga Industrial Area in Buliisa district also held a protest against the judiciary. The protest took place in Buliisa district.

The households filed cases in Uganda’s High Court and Court of Appeal in 2014 and 2021 respectively. The households sought court’s intervention to protect their right to receiving prompt, fair and adequate compensation that is provided for under Article 26 of Uganda’s 1995 Constitution.

Unfortunately, since filing of the court cases, the people have never received justice.

“Court was supposed to hear our case yesterday [February 9] but when we arrived at the Hoima High Court, we were informed that our case file is still at the Masindi High Court.

On November 10, 2022, however, the Masindi High Court told us not to go back to Masindi. They informed us that our case would be heard at the Hoima High Court,”  Innocent Tumwebaze, the chairperson of the Oil Refinery Residents Association (ORRA), says.

He adds, “To make matters worse, even if the file had been at Hoima High Court, no hearing would have taken place because the judge was absent.”

Margaret Nankya, an oil refinery-affected person, says, “Why are the courts failing poor communities? Do they want to contribute to the oil curse? If poor women’s land is taken and the women aren’t paid fair and adequate compensation, then women are condemned to poverty. This is unacceptable and courts must stop such injustices. It however looks like they are not interested in protecting us.”

John Tundulu, one of the Tilenga community observers, says, “Justice is not for the poor: this is the conclusion that the judiciary perhaps wants us to arrive at. When government sued us in 2020, the judiciary quickly heard government’s case and said that we must take the inadequate and unfair compensation that TotalEnergies was giving us for our property.

We filed an appeal against this unfair judgement in 2021. The appeal has never been fixed for hearing nearly two years later. This is despite us writing to the Deputy Chief Justice requesting that we be given justice.”

The Ugandan government sued the nine Tilenga Industrial Area-affected households that rejected TotalEnergies’ low compensation because Total acquired their land on behalf of the Ugandan government.

The Tilenga- and oil refinery-affected people have promised that after their protests in the Bunyoro sub-region, they are going to hold demonstrations at the offices of the Principal Judge and Deputy Chief Justice in Kampala before the end of this month.

“The oil-affected people must be listened to. The Ugandan government and its partners including TotalEnergies as well as China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) must walk their talk on respecting human rights.

They tell financiers and other stakeholders that they are implementing their projects in the most sustainable and human rights-compliant manner but this is far from the truth.

They are trampling on communities’ rights and institutions such as the judiciary that should be holding them accountable are only looking on,” Mr. Dickens Kamugisha, the CEO of Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), says.

AFIEGO has empowered the people since 2011 to defend their rights.

CSOs Hope That TotalEnergies Will Take Concrete Measures To Stop Human Rights Violations In Uganda, Tanzania After Vital French Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court of France (the Court of Cassation) Wednesday issued a ruling that has re-energized Civil Society Organization (CSOs) that are de-campaigning projects TotalEnergies is undertaking in Uganda and Tanzania because the oil company failed to put in place adequate mitigation measures (due diligence) for its Tilenga and the East Africa Crude Oil Export Pipeline (EACOP) oil projects.

Six French and Ugandan civil society organizations - Friends of the Earth France, Survie, AFIEGO, CRED, NAPE and NAVODA – joined by ActionAid France, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Collectif Éthique sur l'étiquette -, and one trade union – CFDT ran to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal of Versailles in October remanded the case to the commercial court, a thing CSOs called a misinterpretation of French law, which leads to ignoring the central objective of this law.

In the latest ruling by the Supreme Court, the case will be heard by the civil court hence rejecting the jurisdiction of the commercial courts in this matter; the first legal action based on the law on the duty of vigilance of transnational corporations. The CSOs are suing the oil company for failing to operate in Uganda within the confines of the French Due Diligence law thereby violating environmental and human rights in the two East African countries.

According to the claimants, the Court of Appeal did not rule on the merits of the case, i.e. on whether or not TotalEnergies is complying with its vigilance duties. And with this fresh ruling by the Supreme Court, putting an end to a nearly two years long procedural battle, the CSOs are upbeat, describing the ruling as an important victory.

“By entrusting the case to the civil court, this decision makes it possible to fulfil the objectives of the law on the duty of vigilance. The purpose of this law is to hold companies liable for the impacts of their activities on third parties, such as employees of subsidiaries, suppliers and subcontractors, local communities and the environment,” the CSOs said in a press release.

Juliette Renaud, of Friends of the Earth France, said they are relieved by this decision of the Court of Cassation, however, they are concerned about the impact of the delays this procedural issue has caused because more than 100 000 people have been deprived of their land and livelihoods in Uganda and Tanzania. “Action is urgently needed, and we hope that the upcoming decision on the merits of the case will order Total to finally take concrete measures to stop these violations,” Renaud added.

Thomas Bart of Survie, said the decision is a first victory in the long legal battle they have launched against this transnational corporation.

“We will finally be able to focus on the substance of the case. Despite repeated warnings from civil society, the project continues at full speed without any concern for the repression of people on the ground,” Bart said.

He added: “our partners and community members who dare to raise their voices against this oil megaproject are subject to increasing intimidation, and arbitrary arrests are multiplying.”

TotalEnergies, alongside partners CNOOC, Uganda National Oil Company and the government of Uganda are chasing the production of Uganda petroleum resources and this ambition has reached the development phase and first oil is expected in 2025.

Uganda, with the technical and financial capabilities of the oil companies, TotalEnergies being the lead Joint Venture partner, commenced the processes to construct key infrastructure projects to facilitate the extraction of the countries hydrocarbons.

Construction of the airport in western Uganda commenced four years ago, next will be the refinery and its support infrastructures and the East African Crude Export Pipeline (EACOP) which will transport Uganda crude from western Uganda to the world through Tanga port in Tanzania. 

Uganda’s oil and gas reserves are in an environmentally sensitive area with rich biodiversity and a fragile ecosystem. This has got environment-friendly activists into action with many saying the projects in western Uganda must be cancelled or stopped. This has sometimes ended in courts of law.

AFIEGO Calls For Auditing Of $1.7bn Karuma Dam Project

Members of the civil society with Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) as the lead petitioner have written a letter to the Auditor General (AG) calling on his office 'to conduct an independent forensic audit covering the $1.7 billion Karuma dam project'.

The audit, according to the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) led by AFIEGO, should also look into the implementation of the Power  Purchase Agreement (PPA), the selection and capacity of the project developer, the quality of the dam being built, the costs of the dam, and the causes of the over three-years commission delays.

Further, the AG should examine the project's impact on the final electricity tariffs, the responsibility of the developer vis-à-vis those of government, the terms and conditions of the project loan borrowed from the Exim bank of China, the government institutions involved in the supervision of the dam and their capacity, the reasons for the delays in the land acquisition for the transmission/evacuation lines and their impacts and others.

In the letter, Dickens Kamugisha, Chief Executive Officer of AFIEGO noted that the CSOs have 'been following events around the Karuma dam project since its inception to date and 'available evidence indicates that the commissioning of the dam whose construction was launched in 2013 has been postponed to June 2022 under unclear circumstances.'

"Yet to date, the dam is said to be at 98.9% completion, though available information indicates that the quality of the dam is lacking. The delays in the commissioning of the dam are costly and available evidence indicates that the costs are being paid by the Ugandan government with taxpayers’ money. We need to know who is responsible for the said delays and their cost implications," Kamugisha noted.

Kamugisha noted that 'the delays will have far-reaching implications on clean energy access and affordability for citizens as the delays are expected to lead to high electricity tariffs.'


"We are concerned that the above challenges will affect Ugandans environmentally, socially, and economically. There is, therefore, a need to urgently carry out an independent forensic audit of the project. The audit report will support efforts to promote transparency and accountability in the project for the benefit of the citizens and the country at large." Kamugisha said.

Locusts, Climate Change & Oil Exploitation

On Sunday, February 9, 2020, media reports indicated that Uganda had been invaded by locusts. That same day, the 33rd African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Assembly commenced in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The two-day meeting was held under the theme: Silencing the guns: Creating conducive conditions for Africa’s Development.

As the leaders deliberated on topics such as conflicts in the Sahel region, sustainable funding of Africa’s development agenda and others, scores of Ugandans panicked over the locust invasion.

A government inter-ministerial met to discuss measures to address the locusts, which the public was informed could eat food that could feed 2,500 people per year!

In addition, army officers and others were shipped off to Karamoja, the site of the reported invasion, to address the threat. Several other efforts were engaged in.


While some of the above was ongoing, the AU Heads of State and others deliberated on matters that would improve the wellbeing of African citizens.

However, they did not discuss how African Heads of State in alliance with national and international agricultural, oil and other companies are contributing towards climate change and are exposing Africans to more potential locust invasions.

With the permission of African leaders, activities such as destruction of forests such as Bugoma in Uganda for sugarcane growing and exploitation of fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) including in eco-sensitive areas such as national parks, lakes, rivers and forests in Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria among others are ongoing in Africa today.

Both the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation are drivers of global warming and consequently, climate change.

Yet climate change is part of the reason that Uganda, Kenya and other Eastern African countries are in the predicament they are in today. Moreover, this is a predicament that African countries are ill-equipped to deal with.

As pointed out by the UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, warmer cyclones caused by climate change have created the perfect breeding conditions for locusts. Per information from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the warmer cyclones resulted in rains in Oman, which enabled the breeding of the desert locusts. 

The locusts invaded Eastern Africa thereafter and have caused serious damage. FAO estimated that 200 billion locusts invaded Kenya. The locusts, which eat their own weight in food every day, destroyed pasturelands which had only been rejuvenated after drought.

Further, the damage caused by the locusts in Somalia was so much so that the country declared a state of emergency after the insects damaged about 70,000 hectares of food supplies in the country and in Ethiopia.

Experience shows that when food and pasturelands, which are major sources of income for many households are destroyed, other impacts follow.  Incomes reduce, children’s education suffers as parents lack incomes to pay school fees, and even domestic violence due to increased poverty in homes is seen.


Now, several countries in Africa including Nigeria, Angola, Cameroon Niger, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and others are oil producers. In addition, several countries including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Togo and others are planning or are undertaking activities to become coal, oil and gas producers.

The above countries argue that they need to produce coal, oil and gas not only to create jobs but to generate revenues to support their respective economies among others.

However, the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is the biggest contributor to climate change.

As earlier noted, climate change has been cited as the cause of the biggest locust invasion to be seen in Kenya in 70 years and in 25 years for Somalia and Ethiopia.

To continue to exploit oil to exacerbate climate change is to put the lives of African citizens at risk. Moreover, poorer African states are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. African states have too few resources to manage climate change impacts.

Indeed, the Ugandan government’s response to the locust invasion in Uganda on Sunday, February 9, 2020, was a testament to this. The country had no standby expert manpower and equipment such as airplanes to spray the locusts. Communities in Teso reported that they resorted to making noise to scare the locusts away.

One may argue that oil revenues could be used to make African states climate-resilient. However, experiences from Nigeria, Angola and other oil-producing countries show that oil revenues are never used for the benefit of citizens. Instead, they are largely abused by corrupt government officials at the expense of citizens’ wellbeing.

In line with available evidence that says that up to a 75% of known fossil fuel reserves including oil, coal and gas must be left unexploited for the Paris climate target to be attained, African countries must consider leaving fossil fuels unexploited. They should invest in other economic activities such as agriculture, tourism and others.

Further, in line with the AU’s 2020 theme, African countries should demiltarise oil production and should stop attacking citizens that critique oil activities in Africa.

The writer is the Senior Communications Officer at Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO).

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