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20 Aug 2018

Kevin Mwanza, Place (Kenya)

Uganda: How displacement for oil infrastructure has compromised livelihoods, housing & right to food in oil-rich region

"Marked for demolition? Ugandans on pipeline route fear land loss"

Ugandan farmer James Mubona, 73, looked pensive as he sat in a blue plastic chair under a mango tree next to three of his four wives, one breastfeeding a five-month-old baby, contemplating the imminent loss of his 22-acre farm to an oil pipeline. The government is set to take about half of the land, which feeds Mubona's 20 children and numerous grandchildren, to build the world's longest electrically heated oil pipeline from northwest Uganda to Tanzania's Tanga port on the Indian Ocean. "I am worried because I don't know where to go when this land is taken," Mubona told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Kyakatemba village in Hoima District.."When the pipeline takes a bigger portion of your land and you remain with a small portion, what do you do with that small portion?"...

Mubona will not be the first Ugandan to lose land to the oil project, which the government hopes will spur economic growth, pay down the national debt and reduce poverty.  More than 7,000 people were evicted from 13 neighbouring villages in Hoima District in 2012 for the refinery and a new international airport, which will fly in oil equipment, according to the energy ministry. In Kyakaboga resettlement village, some 50 km west of Mubona's family, about 50 concrete, three-bedroom houses with red iron roofs stood in neat lines. More than a dozen lay empty.  The urban-style houses were built for families that lost their land and homes to the refinery and opted to be compensated with an equivalent amount of land, rather than cash. "I can't live here," said Christop Opio, one of the small minority who chose resettlement over money when the government acquired his land in Kabaale for the airport. "It looks like a camp and there is no privacy. All houses are so close together, Many families who have been resettled on the 530-acre plot complained that they could not keep livestock at the tightly-packed modern houses, unlike at their old rural homes, and that their new farmland was too far away, he said.