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Pipeline Project: New Report show Oil Companies; Totalenergies, CNOOC Have Neglected Women, Disabled and Elderly in Land Compensation

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Elderly, women and disabled people have been neglected when it comes to compensation in the ongoing land acquisitions in the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.

Dubbed: Risk Of Poverty After Land Acquisitions For Uganda’s Mega Oil Pipeline, the report published by Just Finance International and the Environment Governance Institute (EGI) shows that women are the most affected by this issue.

The report pointed out that oil giants; Chinese state oil company CNOOC and French multinational oil and gas company TotalEnergies are complicit in threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of families who live between Uganda’s Lake Albert and the shoreline of Tanzania. 

The report states that while the land is being expropriated by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), a consortium owned by the governments of Uganda and Tanzania, French oil company TotalEnergies, and China’s parastatal energy giant CNOOC, EACOP faces accusations of providing inadequate compensation to displaced families, increasing the vulnerability of elderly and disabled people, and ignoring female-headed households.

LineSteppa Community

“EACOP should halt all construction work in Uganda until all the communities are fairly compensated and all land disputes due to the acquisition process have been solved,” said Nils Resare Senior researcher at Just Finance International.

“The ongoing acquisition has created widespread unrest and anxiety in communities along the pipeline route where land has been compulsorily acquired”, said Resare. 

“No one that Just Finance International met during our recent field visits along the pipeline route was satisfied with the compensation they had received or been offered, claiming the money won’t buy them equivalent farmland elsewhere or housing. Some claimed they were offered 30-50 percent less than the value of the land they had to give, which left them unable to replace the same piece of land even within the same area.”

Samuel Aede, director of EGI called upon EACOP to respect both our human rights and our country’s national heritage 

”CNOOC and TotalEnergies are destroying our country’s natural heritage and violating the rights of our people within the Lake Albert basin. Every right-thinking person has to resist these atrocities on Ugandans”, Aede said. 

When operational, EACOP, the world’s longest heated crude oil pipeline at 1,443km, is expected to have a daily output of 246,000 barrels of oil. According to EACOP’s own environmental and social assessment report, more than 25,000 individuals in Uganda are affected by the EACOP project and over 200 households need to be resettled.

LineSteppa Community

However, a European Parliament resolution on September 15, 2022, provides a much higher figure, estimating that more than 100,000 people in Tanzania and Uganda are at imminent risk of displacement because of the pipeline. The Parliament also foresees that many of the affected people will not receive proper guarantees of adequate compensation from the project developers.

Resare said that disabled people and the elderly have been neglected in the land acquisition process as they were unable to travel to all the meetings with the pipeline companies.

“They claim they have not received compensation. Community members told us that the oil companies did not fully understand how many people’s livelihoods depend on each plot of land,” 

As documented in Risk Of Poverty, comparable to other East African communities, farmland in Uganda is traditionally owned by men, but cultivated by women.

 The companies have mainly chosen to compensate men in the communities, excluding many women from planning resettlement for their households. When the money comes, the women never see it, according to interviews conducted by Just Finance International. 

In some cases, women were abandoned by their partners after the payment of compensation.

According to Dickens Kamugisha, chief executive officer at the Ugandan NGO AFIEGO, which has provided legal help to communities affected by Uganda’s exploration of oil since 2013, the acquisition process has been unsatisfactory.

LineSteppa Community

“Land-for-land compensation, with resettlement options, would have been a more appropriate approach than cash compensation since most of the affected people have limited or no formal education and are not financially literate. In many cases, people have misused the compensation and will have nowhere to go when the pipeline work begins”, he said. 

Kamugisha says that the EACOP consortium is ignorant of how people in the countryside live and how they have survived for generations. If they would have done the due diligence EACOP could have used different methods for compensation.

“More research should have been done before the resettlement process started. The companies don’t take enough time to understand the culture and the way people live”, he added.

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