Rose Nakabito, a resident of Nabigasa village in Kyotera district, stands beside her red brick house and points at to the ground.
“Exactly here, the pipeline will go,” she says.
On her land, Nakabito shows us the healthy coffee plants, vegetable crops, and banana trees that make up her farm.
“The produce feeds my family and I as well sell vegetables in the market to pay for my children’s school fees and other expenses,” she says
A few months from now, all this will be gone, her land is among the many that have been 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 energy giant CNOOC.
Nakabito is divorced from her husband.
She says that she has received no compensation for the loss of her land and crops.
“I can’t tell how I will support my family when the excavators arrive,”
Nakabito is not alone.
Marry Nyambubi, is a resident of Kitegwa village.
The house will be torn down shortly. China’s CNOOC has built her a new, smaller house, but she is not pleased and doesn’t think it suits her needs.
“I am helpless,” she said.
The compensation for land along the pipeline has been paid to the men in the village, according to the locals, but many single women have received nothing.
A new report by Just Finance International and the Environment Governance Institute in Uganda has unearthed the Untold grievances of the project-affected persons in these areas.
The ongoing acquisition has created widespread unrest and anxiety in communities along the pipeline route where land has been compulsorily acquired.
The report says voices of 150 people testified, raising concerns over the ongoing acquisition process.
According to the EACOP’s 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.
“No one that Just Finance International met during a recent field trip 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,” the report reads in part.
“Some claimed they were offered 30% to 50% less than the value of the land they had to give which rendered them unable to replace the same piece of land even within the same area,” it adds
Moses Kalyango, a youth leader in an EACOP-affected village in Rakai district told investigators that the pipeline has created difficulties in his village.
“We were happy when we first heard about this project, thinking that our lives were going to change, and the community was going to develop. The companies promised us jobs and good compensation. But now we are disappointed. We did not get enough”, he explains.
Kalyango thinks the whole acquisition process should be restarted.
“My father has been struggling to get this land. It wasn’t given to him. So why should they come and take his land? The whole process should be revised. This has hurt us so much,” he says.
A report noted that the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) and TotalEnergies are complicit in threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of families who live between Uganda’s Lake Albert and the shoreline of Tanzania.
Speaking at the release of the Report, Nils Resare, Senior researcher at Just Finance International said that the 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.
“The ongoing acquisition has created widespread unrest and anxiety in communities along the pipeline route where land has been compulsorily acquired,” he said,
“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 Aedes, the Director of the Environment Governance Institute in Uganda 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,” he said
European Parliament on September 15, passed a resolution stopping the construction of the EACOP project.
The resolution, provided 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.
Resare said that the Parliament also foresees that many of the affected people will not receive proper guarantees of adequate compensation from the project developers.
“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,” he said
“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,”
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.
The report says that compared 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 partners after the payment of compensation,” it reads.
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, said that the acquisition process has been unsatisfactory.
“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 said 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.
The EACOP consortium The biggest shareholder in the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) is UK-registered TotalEnergies with a 62% stake in the venture. The Chinese public company CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corporation), has an 8% stake. The Ugandan and Tanzanian national oil companies are also shareholders in the consortium with 15% each.