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16 Nov 2022

Just Finance International (Netherlands)

Uganda: Risk of poverty after land acquisitions for mega East African Crude Oil Pipeline; incl. TotalEnergies' response

"Risk of poverty after land acquisitions for Uganda’s mega oil pipeline" 16 November 2022

The construction of the world’s longest heated crude oil pipeline between Uganda’s Lake Albert and the shoreline of Tanzania is threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of families. The companies responsible for the 1,443km pipeline, including China’s CNOOC and France’s TotalEnergies, are accused of providing inadequate compensation to displaced families, increasing the vulnerability of elderly and disabled people, and female-headed households. [...]

The ongoing acquisition has created widespread unrest and anxiety in communities along the pipeline route where land has been compulsorily acquired. 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. Some claimed they were offered 30-50 percent 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.

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 have not received compensation. Community members claim that the oil companies did not fully understand how many people’s livelihoods depend on each plot of land.

As in most 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.

The acquisition process has also exposed land disputes between neighbors in the villages. Ownership of land is not always clearly defined, renewing old conflicts as different families claim rights to the same land. [...]

According to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the companies are required to put in place a human rights due diligence process “assessing actual and potential human rights impacts, integrating, and acting upon the findings, tracking responses, and communicating how impacts are addressed”.

During the fieldwork in Uganda, Just Finance International found no evidence that such a process was in place. On the contrary, most of the affected people claimed that communication from the consortium and implementing companies was insufficient. [...]

Part of the following timelines

Uganda & Tanzania: East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP)

Uganda: Civil society expresses concerns over East African Crude Oil Pipeline's (EACOP) land acquisitions and environmental impacts; incl. TotalEnergies' response

Uganda: HRW raises concerns over EACOP impacts on communities