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Uganda: Locals impacted by oil exploration activities in Nwoya area allegedly not adequately compensated; Total responds

A recent article claims that farmers in Uganda's Nwoya district impacted by Total's oil exploration were neither consulted nor adequately compensated. The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invited Total to respond to these allegations. Total responded that it has put "systems in place to...take into account the social environment impacts of [its]...activities." [Full response provided]

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Article
8 October 2018

Locals impacted by oil exploration activities allegedly neither consulted nor adequately compensated

Author: Daily Monitor (Uganda)

"Compensation glitches cited in oil-rich areas"

Before oil exploration started in Murchison Falls National Park in Nwoya District, in late 2000s, there were few cases of wild animals, especially elephants invading homes and gardens in areas that border the park...Mr Godfrey Otukene’s grass thatched hut was destroyed by elephants. He narrowly escaped the attack early this year. “To date, I am struggling to reconstruct my hut but what pains me is Uganda Wild Life Authority, which manages the park has no plan to compensate me,” he said. Apart from destroying the hut, Mr Otukene’s maize and beans garden were destroyed. Much as Total E & P has tried to restore the environment that was interrupted, the elephants have never ceased from straying in people’s homes and gardens...

In 2011, Total E & P took over the running of the Murchison Park oil wells in Block 1. This is an area with the highest quantity of crude oil in the region. Murchison falls National Park, which was gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, is Uganda’s largest conservation area hosts 76 mammal and 451 bird species including chimpanzees, elephants, leopards and giraffes. Mr Otuekene’s frustration is shared by dozens of residents in Anaka Sub-county in Nwoya District as well as neighbours in Ganda Parish, Panymur Sub-county, Pakwach District. Mr Raymond Pyem, the youth councillor Panymur Sub-county says some owners of these farms were promised to be given between Shs3 million and 4 million received less than a million shillings in compensation. “The company that was contracted by Total never engaged with local leaders to explain some of these compensation issues properly. We only saw them come and prospect and leave after failing to discover oil,” he said.

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Company response
8 October 2018

Total's response

Author: Total

" Total's response to "Compensation glitches cited in oil-rich areas”, paper published in the Daily Monitor, September 24, 2018"

Total as a group and Total E&P Uganda are committed to the conservation of wildlife, environment and biodiversity during our operations, and minimizing our potential impacts, both environmental and social. We do this, among other things, by putting systems in place to ensure that our activities have limited impact on the environment and the biodiversity. We make sure as well that we take into account the social environment of our activities...

During the exploration and appraisal phase, Total E&P Uganda has a dedicated team of 8 Community Liaison and Tourism Officers (CTLOs) on site, who maintained permanent open dialogue with the Districts and communities, about our activities as well as those of our service providers. All engagements are undertaken by Total E&P Uganda. Total E&P Uganda is not familiar with any Human/wildlife conflict in Panyamur subcounty, Pakwach district. All studies and information collected (mentioned above) does not indicate that elephants have invaded crops in this area. It is important to note that this area is across the river (which is a natural barrier for elephant given its width and depth) and to the best of our knowledge, currently, it is not a distribution area of elephants.

 Grievances associated with the Project are addressed through a transparent and impartial process in line with international best practice such as IFC, United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Right and the IPIECA Community Grievance Mechanisms guide. All grievances are received and registered by the CTLO either directly or by calling them on a tool free line 0800 216 000 (as for today, more than 350 grievances since 2012 have been sorted). These are then investigated with the involvement of various stakeholders including district leaders depending on the grievance. Engagements are regularly conducted by the CTLOs and in addition a number of studies have been conducted.

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