Community-Based Monitors (CBMs) from six Ugandan districts have been trained on how to use the media. The trained monitors were drawn from six of the ten Ugandan districts through which the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) will pass.

The monitors were trained during a September 21, 2021 workshop that was organised by Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO). At the training, the monitors were taught how to do the following: identify newsworthy stories, pitch their story ideas to editors, operate as citizen journalists who capture their communities’ stories and share them with the media, write op-eds and others.


The Community Based Monitors are community leaders who observe and report on the human rights situation of the 3,045 households whose land is being compulsorily acquired for the EACOP project in Uganda.

 The Community Based Monitors were trained not only because they have knowledge of the challenges their communities face but because they are also literate. With their reading, writing and oratory capabilities, they can ably use the media to tell their communities’ stories.

While the above is true, prior to the training, the Community Based Monitors lacked media engagement skills. This limited their capacity to use the media to tell their communities’ stories. This undermined community advocacy efforts to protect community rights.


The EACOP, a planned 1,443km pipeline, has a big environmental footprint. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the pipeline will affect nearly 2,000 sq. km of protected wildlife habitat. Endangered species such as chimpanzees, elephants and others have been put at risk because of the EACOP project.

Lake Victoria, the second biggest freshwater lake in the world on which up to 40 million people in East Africa depend, is also set to be affected by the EACOP. Further, the pipeline has presented climate change concerns with up to 34.3 million metric tonnes of carbon per year expected to be produced when the oil transported by the EACOP is used.

Ugandans, majority of whom are employed in the agricultural sector, depend on good climate as well as healthy ecosystems to make a living. The EACOP is therefore a threat to their livelihoods.


Moreover, already, the EACOP has disrupted the livelihoods of the 3,045 households whose land is being compulsorily acquired for the project.

Through cut-off dates that were set in 2019, the 3,045 EACOP-affected households were stopped from using their land to grow perennial food and cash crops. The people were also stopped from setting up any new developments. Food stress and loss in incomes have resulted as a result of the above. Women and girls have borne the brunt of the above impacts.


The media plays a critical role in protecting the rights of people. To empower the EACOP-affected people to tell their own stories through the powerful media, the September 21, 2021 media training for the Community Based Monitors was organised.  


Since their training, the CBMs have written op-eds that have been published over five times in the national press. Some of the published op-eds may be seen here and here (see article 2).

With AFIEGO and our partners’ support, the CBMs have also used their citizen journalism and other skills to engage the media to demand for fair compensation. Through the media engagements, the people’s demands have been published in over eight national and sub-national media outlets. Some of the published stories may be seen here or here or here or here. The media stories create the pressure needed to protect communities’ rights.

The communities need to be further supported to engage the media to protect our shared climate, the environment and their livelihoods.  

The Community Based Monitors during the media training. The facilitator can be seen at the front


AFIEGO’s Ms. Diana Nabiruma (standing) while outlining opportunities for using the media



Uganda Elections: Museveni Vs People Power

Unless it’s a surprise, the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for nearly four decades, should win yesterday's presidential election opposing him to 10 other candidates following a campaign marked by several violent incidents including the killing of over 50 civilians, human right abuses, restrictions to access media and people and arrests of his main challenger, Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobby Wine.

It is hard to tell whether Uganda’s 2021 presidential election and results would be enough free and fair to meet international democratic standards given the numerous controversies and violent incidents that have characterized the electoral campaign. However, it’s clear that President Museveni and his base have increased control over the entire country ahead of the polls. 

Earlier last week, he ordered the suspension of all social media platforms, accusing them of ‘arrogance’ after some of his closest allies witnessed the shut down of their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Heavily armed police and army officers were seen patrolling in the streets of Kampala on Tuesday and Wednesday. President Yoweri Museveni’s growing authoritarianism has been visible through the regular blockades and repression of the opposition campaigning activities, attacks on the press, and arrest of activists. Asked by CNN why the army and police are interfering in Bobi Wine’s campaign rallies, the President said that the opposition leader ‘has been violating health measures during the pandemic’. Interestingly, President Museveni himself has been campaigning without respecting the social distancing measures. 

Confronted with several challenges, including high unemployment rates among the youths, rampant corruption, weak institutions, growing dissatisfaction of the people, uncertain political succession, and the economic recession caused by the covid-19 pandemic, President Museveni has opted for violent repression and silencing all opposition’s voices. He has increased the budget of military and security sectors at the expense of social ones and the brutality of security forces is fostering discontent especially among the urban youths and marginalised communities.

Among those, let’s take a look at the affected communities from Western Uganda where the oil exploration and exploitation activities are expected to cause large-scale displacement of communities and pose grave risks to protected environments, water sources, and wetlands. According to a report released last October by partner organisations Friends of the Earth France and Survie, the Tilenga (oil extraction in the heart of a protected natural area) and EACOP (the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, a proposed 1,445-kilometer  pipeline from Hoima, Uganda to the port of Tanga in Tanzania) projects led by the French giant Total are causing massive population displacements in Uganda and Tanzania. Tens of thousands of people are totally or partially deprived of their land, even before receiving any compensation. Testimonies collected in the various Ugandan districts affected by these two projects reveal high levels of school dropouts among children, a situation of famine, loss of livelihoods, and lack of proper and fair compensation. 

Whether Museveni wins the presidential election or not, the newly elected leadership should swiftly prevent Uganda from falling into a prolonged period of uncertainty. Though the country is not in danger of a civil war, the recent incidents and tensions have shown signs of sliding into a political and economic crisis that could eventually threaten Uganda’s stability as well as the entire region.

Ugandans in their diversity aspire not only for a peaceful and prosperous country but also for fairness, democracy, rule of law where every citizen is respected regardless of political affiliations. Officials involved in political and economic crimes should be removed and prosecuted. The controversial Tilenga and EACOP projects due to enrich a handful of politicians and multinationals should stop immediately and people’s rights be restored. Those would be the first signs of real change that Ugandans can achieve through a process of social transformation and democratic transition that bravely address the real issues their society faces.







All Hands on Deck, World Environment Day 2020 – Humanity at the Crossroads

Human civilization has been put on notice. And the fundamental issue of our time is the climate crisis. This climate emergency integrates so many of our present-day concerns with issues of economic sustainability, energy production, and social responsibility We are literally at crossroads.

We need to seriously reflect on our systems of social, political, and economic choices and how best we are responding to the enormous problems that have been and continue to be created by this climate crisis? 

We cannot limit ourselves to a single solution if we are to avert this climate crisis. It will require the rigor of scholarly input, a sober analysis of our environmental bodies, a strong political will but most important of all, a massive resounding and civic awakening in response to this monumental challenge. As the voices of global environmentalists develop a consensus on clean energy resources, countries like Uganda are just getting excited about the discovery of oil as an economic saviour. Therefore, a variation of solutions needs to be tabled on how to effectively respond, how to transform our organizational setup, recognizing the need for new ecocultural collaborations, recognizing interspecies codependency, and frankly, spiritual awakening to the dire fate of our "Common home."

Specific to Uganda, among many solutions, and in response to this crisis, is the awakening of not only the youth but also children as spirited activists in this effort. A lot more needs to be done to bolster the civic imperative of non-government actors in the pursuit of a better, cleaner, and sustainable environment. 

As the world continues to get ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, we still have to maintain some semblance of civility and order. 5th June will see humanity celebrate World Environment Day with a call to humanity to respect Nature and its Biodiversity.

With a constant concerted push to keep fossil fuels in the ground, advocacy for alternative renewable sources of energy, and the urgent need to beat plastic pollution as well as plant more trees humanity needs to step up her efforts with precision and diligence. Without this concerted effort, locusts and rising water levels from our lakes and rivers will be the least of our worries.

For this reason, Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green in partnership with 350Africa.org, NEMA Uganda, the National Forestry Authority Uganda and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament in Uganda is hosting a candid virtual workshop about Nature and Biodiversity and our role as the human race to ensure it is preserved on June 05th.

This online conversation will start at 2.30 pm East African time and will be streamed live on various social media pages including the 350Africa Facebook page, Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green Facebook and Twitter handles as well as the NEMA Uganda pages.

Join us and let’s share our voice of change and reason with the very custodians of our environment.

By Joseph Masembe, founder and team leader of Little Hands Go Green

Ugandan communities concerned over oil’s deal amid COVID-19 crisis

The Government of Uganda has applauded the recent agreement that will see Tullow Oil Plc transferring its assets for Lake Albert Development project and the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline System to Total Uganda at $575 million (Sh57.5 billion).

According to the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, “it is a critical development that takes the (Oil and Gas) sector towards the Final Investment Decision (FID) that the country is eagerly waiting for”.

That joy isn’t however shared with communities in Western parts of Uganda. They are deeply concerned that if the Ugandan government allows the presence of oil activities in the eco-sensitive areas such as the Ngaji block which have been put up for bidding to the investors,  their lives will be ruined because they have depended on the tourism for their livelihood which will disappear.  

If the government allows the oil exploration in the Ngaji oil block, which is located in the ecosensitive Lake Edward and Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP), this seriously will put such sensitive ecosystems at risk, triggering the slow but certain disappearance of the rich ecological, economic and social importance of such ecosystems. Agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and other income-generating activities for local communities are also likely to be negatively impacted. 

Communities and activists are also worried about oil exploitation activities will also result in the generation and release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, which goes against the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement ratified by Uganda.

As the world is going through a terrible situation of preventing and ending global coronavirus pandemic, Uganda, like all other signatories to the Paris Agreement should be more concerned about a Just Recovery Plan that focuses on health emergencies, addresses the urgent needs of people and support public health systems currently under severe strain. As of April 26th, the country has a total number of 75 COVID-19 confirmed cases.

By Edwin Mumbere - Kasese

Defending the Defenders

Last week Ugandan environmental defenders working around issues of environment and extractives met in Kampala for a 5-day workshop on risk assessment and security planning. The workshop was organized by Defend Defenders.

Five organizations working in the environment and extractives were present at the training that aimed at equipping participants with basic knowledge and skills on physical and digital security alongside empowering the participants to conduct security risk assessments and to identify strategies that would help them mitigate risks.

The workshop was inspired by a risk assessment done by DefendDefenders of the organizations that participated in the court case against Total for alleged human and environmental rights violations triggered by its operations in Uganda. Total is one of two operating companies of the Lake Albert Oil Project, together with China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and of the giant pipeline EACOP project., The risk assessment concluded the need to build the capacity of the organizations involved in order to ensure they are ready to prevent and respond to any security threats related to their work.

This comes a few weeks after a similar gathering organized by 350.org took place in Brazil that brought together climate defenders from 5 continents and 23 countries whose aim was to equip participants involved with similar skills and capacity related to safety, resilience and cross-regional solidarity.