FIDH and FHRI undertook this Community-based human rights impact assessment (“Assessment” or “Report”) of the Lake Albert to address the impacts of extractive industries. The Report, which is the result of a long process and implements a community-based Human Rights Impact Assessment methodology, documents a number of human rights violations and abuses resulting from the activities of the State of Uganda and the companies developing the oil projects in the Tilenga and Kingfisher areas. In particular, the Report focuses on the right to land, housing, and an adequate standard of living, the right to health and clean water, and the right to a healthy environment. The violations of these rights are inextricably related to violations of the right to information, the right to participation, and the right of access to justice. The Report also emphasizes the great risks of further harm to human and environmental rights in decades to come if Total, CNOOC, and the Ugandan Government fail to enact a series of preventive and remedial measures, as well as larger policy changes, before moving on with the project.
Total’s operations in Uganda involve risks of serious human rights and environmental violations, detailed in the present report. In spite of these risks, Total’s 2018 vigilance plan mentions no specific vigilance measures for the Tilenga and EACOP projects. The vigilance plan thus fails to comply with the duty of vigilance law, as it does not map risks. The plan is clearly inadequate, as potential risks caused by the group’s operations are only described in a perfunctory manner. Only very general risks are mentioned, and the plan does not include a detailed report or rank risks based on the group’s actual operations (e.g. by sector, by geographical area, by activity, by company/ supplier/subcontractor, etc.)
The research was carried out in the framework of a project aimed at improving access to justice for communities affected by extractive industries, implemented by Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) and its partner organisation in Uganda Advocate for Natural Resources and Development (ANARDE). The research covers two of our implementation areas: the Karamoja sub-region in the Eastern Region and the Bunyoro Kingdom in the Western Region – parts of which are also geographically referred to as the Albertine Graben. While culturally distinct, both regions show similarities in the patriarchal norms that their societies hinge on, an element which was relevant to our study. Extractive industries have been expanding in both regions in the past decades, albeit exploiting different resources. The sites were selected for they offer to observe EI-related change in several declinations – oil exploitation, Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) and semi-industrial mining – and at different stages of development – exploration and infrastructure-building on the one hand, advanced exploitation on the other.
Land – its access, control and ownership – lies at the heart of power relationships within Uganda.
The struggle for land is deeply intertwined with the struggle for women’s rights. Women’s access to and control over resources and economic decision making is fundamental to the achievement of their rights. Despite some progress, inequality between women and men in ownership and control of land remains stark. Women’s rights organisations (WROs) in Uganda have identified changing patterns of land use as a major problem affecting women across the country. While land has long been a locus of conflict and dissent, the most recent wave of dispute is caused by what has been termed the land rush or land grabs – investors purchasing or leasing land for mining or the production of cash crops. The economic ideology, espoused by governments throughout Africa and beyond, is that increased foreign direct investment and the commodification of agriculture will create a more developed and prosperous economy with jobs and wealth. The reality for many rural women has been very different.
The discovery of oil in any country is met with joy and jubilation for its prospective contribution to development. This is no different for Uganda. The need for land to pave way for oil exploitation and exploration as well as speculative investment has generated a challenge of land acquisition which in this paper I have considered to be land grabbing. The phenomenon of land grabbing has been widely researched in the agricultural sector because of the scale and size of land taken over in the process of land acquisition and much less in the oil and extractive industry. This paper explores the drivers of oil related land grabbing, the impact of land grabbing on women’s land rights and the implications of land grabbing related conflicts on the oil industry in Uganda. The paper concludes that land grabbing is real, the drivers are both institutional- state led, has impacted women’s land rights and livelihoods negatively, and that the impact on the oil industry are largely destructive for the success of the oil industry.