A new study report by Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) indicates that 96.6% of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) Project Affected Persons (PAPs) in Uganda who received compensation and bought replacement land did not replace all the land they lost to the project.
It also indicates that another 78.1% of them consider the compensation they received to be delayed, inadequate and unfair which contributed to failure to replace their land.
Another key finding shows that the number of EACOP affected households earning an average annual income of more than Shs300,000 declined by 20.8%.
The research about the social-economic impact of the EACOP has among other recommendations called for the translation of Resettlement Action Plans (RAPs) into local languages for the forthcoming oil and gas projects in Uganda.
The researchers believe it will help prevent violation of human rights during projects implementation.
It also recommends the government to always work to avoid displacement of the oil and gas PAPs as the sector is being relegated in the green energy transition.
The research report also calls for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to enhance their oversight role during compulsory land acquisition processes to promote the protection of communities’ rights.
On the side of the government of Uganda and its contracted oil sector developers, the researchers say they should pay special attention to children and women to avoid disrupting basic needs.
The report was launched during a webinar that was attended by stakeholders from different African countries on Wednesday, November 7, 2023.
According to AFIEGO, the research involved 237 respondents from the six geographical scope districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Mubende, Lwengo and Kyotera.
Another key finding was that 68% of the PAPs who acquired loans to bridge the delayed compensation payment gaps found hard times to service them.
While presenting the findings, Mr Robert Byaruhanga, the Research Team Leader, said that a slight improvement in the standard of living was identified among the PAPs who chose resettlement.
“Because they had some land and a house built but the majority of those who received cash compensation had a significant decline in their livelihoods, not different from many affected by the oil refinery project,” he said.
Mr Dickens Kamugisha the Chief Executive Officer at AFIEGO, said that the research aimed at providing a basis of evidence on the journey to avoid human rights violations in Uganda’s oil and gas sector future projects.
He claimed that some PAPs never made informed concepts because of language and were given no chance to negotiate over their property values.
During the Question and Answer (Q&A) session of the webinar, Ms Diana Nabiruma, the Senior Communications Officer at AFIEGO, said that studies conducted by different organisations on the EACOP side of Tanzania had similar findings.
The study titled; “The Social-economic impact of EACOP Resettlement Activities on the Project Affected Persons” was conducted between April and October this year (2023).
Previous reports highlighting human rights violations during the EACOP project land acquisition have been described by the government oil sector player agents as not factual and biased.
A research paper published by Barclays Bank UK Office on March 20, 2023, indicated that the EACOP was a welcome project to affected communities in Uganda and had changed life for the better.”
However, more than 40 CSOs disputed it saying it failed to among other things point out that the delayed compensation caused many family issues and was a human rights violation in accordance with Article 26 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
The EACOP management has always told the world that it did all it could to minimise the impact of their project socially, economically and environmentally by implementing their grievance handling mechanisms where stakeholders from community to top government levels are represented.