Civil Society Guides Government On Optimal Land Investment Practices

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are calling on the government of Uganda to strengthen its working relationship with development partners as a way of boosting fair and responsible local and foreign investment in the country. 

The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) say that the current investment environment is not conducive especially to the local communities because related laws are not in tandem with the international responsible investment protocols. 

Some of the protocols not aligned with the Ugandan laws include the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) and the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI), as well as national frameworks. 

These frameworks call for the promotion of secure tenure land rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests as a means of eradicating hunger and poverty and supporting sustainable development. 

The concern about the imbalance between the Ugandans laws and the protocols was raised during a training meeting of Gomba District Local Government on the use of the Investment Compliance Monitoring Tool. 

The training was organized by the Eastern and Sothern Africa Small-scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) Uganda in partnership with the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) and the Germany Agency for Development (GIZ). 

Building capacity in Gomba district 

The meeting was aimed at building the capacity of Gomba District Local Government departments in using the Investor Compliance Monitoring Tool to track data collection, data analysis, data presentation and reporting.

The tools will also support Gomba in making formal discussions and guidance to promote responsible investments in the district to realize the right to adequate food in the context of national food security, human rights, and poverty eradication among others. 

Ronald Bagaga, the Policy and Research Officer at ESAFF, said there's a need for the government to come up with investment policies that support the interest of smallholder farmers. He said that on most occasions smallholder farmers have been affected when it comes to allocating land for investments to investors.

"The government should also have in mind that local communities need land, especially for agricultural production. Without respecting their interests, this will affect their livelihoods since they depend on land as a natural resource to earn a living" Bagaga said.  

It's on this background that ESAFF and partners conducted the capacity building training where ten Gomba district local government officials were skilled in the use of the Investor Compliance Monitoring Tool.

The training attracted the district economic physical planner, agricultural officers, lands officers, environmental officers, district commercial development officers and the Chief Administrative Officer. 

It promoted responsible investment governance with a focus on agriculture and food systems that contribute to food security and nutrition.

ESAFF, GIZ commended for innovation 

In the training, the District Commercial Development Office of Gomba Kawalya Morgan commended GIZ and ESAFF for coming up with the tool which guides them when it comes to the allocation of land for investment. 

Daniel Kirumira from GIZ promised Gomba that ESAFF will avail them with a computer system on which the ICMT Tool will be installed. He said the system will entirely be managed by the district to lower the fear of data insecurity.

He asserted that the entire process is to be managed by the district right from data collection, analysis and reporting and the district will have full control over the data 

"The tool will make sure that the district can conduct investor compliance monitoring. The tool will support the district have a record of responsible and non-compliant investors within the district and keep track of investments within the district,” he said. 

He also said the tool will support the district to identify areas where different investors require capacity building and ultimately informs them of policies that need to be raised/revised. 

Gomba is an example

After the training, ESAFF and GIZ decided to support Gomba with a workstation for monitoring investments in the district and facilitating district officials during data collection from identified investments. 

The intention is to ensure that the local government can be a learning centre and point of reference for other Local Governments across the country in monitoring investments in their districts. 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), agricultural, investments in Africa have a massive social and economic footprint. 

More than 60% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is smallholder farmers, and about 23% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP comes from agricultural investment practices.

In the same way, the economies and livelihoods of citizens in East Africa are predominantly dependent on agricultural investments. The sector accounts for 25%-40% of EAC Partner States (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Republic of South Sudan) Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Agriculture is the leading employer of over 80% of the population in the region. More than 70% of the industries in the EAC are agro-based and depend on agriculture as the main source of raw materials. Agricultural commodities constitute about 65% of the volume of intra-regional trade in the EAC.

In Uganda, Uganda Investments Authority (UIA) estimates Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to increase from 3.68% to 5% and the Domestic Direct Investment to increase from 24.5% to 50% by 2025.  

The government of Uganda established UIA as an entity responsible for monitoring and tracking all investments made in the country as guided by the investment code of Uganda.  


CSOs Call For Protection Of Ramsar Wetlands Against Oil Activities

Fifteen Ugandan environmental and human rights civil society organisations (CSOs) have come together to call for the protection of Ramsar wetlands from degradation due to the ongoing oil and gas exploitation activities in Uganda.

In a February 15, 2023 letter addressed to the chairperson of Uganda’s Ramsar Wetlands Committee, the CSOs expressed concern about the impact oil and gas exploitation activities are set to have on Uganda’s Ramsar wetlands.

These impacts could affect local communities, fisheries, tourism operators, and biodiversity conservation.

In compliance with Article 3 (1) of the 1971 Ramsar Convention to which Uganda is a signatory, the CSOs are therefore calling on the chairperson of Uganda’s Ramsar Committee to engage the Ugandan President, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) and thePetroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) to stop all the oil activities that are affecting or could affect Ramsar wetlands in Uganda.

The CSOs are also calling on the chairperson of Uganda’s Ramsar Committee to engage TotalEnergies and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to stop any oil activities in Ramsar sites.

“Under TotalEnergies’ Tilenga oil project, the company intends to extract oil from over 400 oil wells, including 130 within Murchison Falls National Park. The company, whose partners on the project include CNOOCand the Ugandan government, also intends to develop infrastructure such as well pads, a water abstraction station, a central processing facility, flow lines, and various oil pipelines, including one that will be buried under River Nile,” the letter reads.

It adds: “The pipeline to be constructed under River Nile is referred to as the Victoria Nile Crossing in the Tilenga oil project’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment [ESIA] report. Information in the Tilenga ESIA report indicates that construction activities for the pipeline will be located within the boundary of the Murchison Falls–Albert Delta Wetland System, a Ramsar site.”

Experts who reviewed the Tilenga ESIA report also noted that the ferry crossing on Lake Albert and two Tilenga well pads, JBR ten and four, will affect or are close to the Ramsar site.

The Tilenga ESIA notes that the “Potential impacts to the Murchison Falls–Albert Delta Wetland System …were assessed to be High Adverse to Critical for all project phases.” These phases include the construction, operational and others.

“The Murchison Falls-Albert Delta Wetland System lies within the Lake Albert Basin and falls almost entirely within the boundaries of Murchison Falls National Park. The Ramsar site stretches from the top of Murchison Falls to the delta at its confluence with Lake Albert. The Ramsar Site, which has been proposed to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is important for Uganda’s fisheries, tourism, biodiversity conservation and food security,” the CSOs’ letter reads.

They, therefore, call on the Ugandan government to take action to protect the Ramsar wetland from degradation by TotalEnergies’ oil and gas exploitation activities. The CSOs are also calling on the chairperson of Uganda’s Ramsar Wetlands Committee to work with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and PAU to provide a list of wetlands belonging to Lake Victoria that have been affected by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

The CSOs’ letter reads, “We are also concerned about the … EACOP project and its potential impact on wetlands belonging to Lake Victoria. The lake is home to Ramsar wetlands, including Lutembe Bay (LTB), Mabamba Bay Wetland System (MBB), Nabajjuzi Wetland System (NBJ) and Sango Bay-Musambwa Island-Kagera Wetland System (SAMUKA).

The EACOP ESIA report is silent on which wetlands belonging to Lake Victoria have been affected by the EACOP project, leading to speculation that the aforementioned Ramsar sites stand to be affected.”

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