- Women affected by the oil refinery project in Kabaale parish have not lived to their expectations as they have been troubled with illegal settlers and cattle keepers
- Communities for the past five years have been at risk of food insecurity and income loss as the animals have been feeding on their crops.
- An elderly woman was nearly raped by an illegal settler, Lack of access to clean safe water and food.
By Atusinguza Sandra
As Uganda joins the rest of the World to commemorate Women’s Day tomorrow (Thursday) in Mityana district, the women in Oil and Gas exploration areas remain with challenges which government has taken minimal action to address hence it is not worth celebrating.
The day will be marked under the theme, ‘Empowerment of rural women and girls.’ Culturally, women in Bunyoro have a strong bond to the land to sustain the family’s livelihoods through agriculture and other land use practices and that is why women are known as the mother of the nation.
Insecurity of especially female-headed and child-headed families has yet been another challenge. The refinery project affected persons were stopped from growing perennial cash crops prior to the cutoff date June 22, 2012.
Abigaba Esther one of the women affected by the oil refinery projected said that food insecurity has led to increased drought and poverty in their households, little access to safe water as the communal means by which water sources were destroyed.
Most women who were affected by the refinery project have not been signatories on either the land documents or the bank account through which compensation have been paid and after their husbands had received compensation for family property and land, the men relocated to Hoima, Masindi, Buliisa and other towns, leaving their families behind and opted for new wives, drinking and luxury, instead of replacing the family land that they gave up for the oil refinery.
It is said that “educate a girl child, educate a nation” however the rural girls who were affected the refinery project will never live to this common saying as they dropped out of school.
The two primary schools, Nyahaira P/S and Kyapaloni P/S, that used to serve the refinery-affected pupils collapsed and closed owing to lack of incomes from crops, lack of food for pupils and lack of teachers. The girls are now young mothers will be excluded from jobs in the oil sector over lack of education qualifications.
Efforts by NGO’S such as AFIEGO to work with government through the political leaders has not yield out so much. On Friday, August 25, 2017, four members of parliament (MPs) from Bunyoro sub-region visited the refinery-affected women with the view of engaging with the women on the challenges of land acquisition and resettlement processes being faced. This followed a letter dated July 10, 2017, where nearly 50 women belonging to households wrote to their MPs requesting them to find solutions to the depressing conditions they are living in. Both Uganda’s Constitution and the Land Act allow for equality in decision-making on family land ownership, and also give women the right to own land.
Women who have been affected by these oil developments and being the mother of our nation have a great role to protect our land, water and secure food for this nation to ensure climate justice. The national women celebrations must be deliberated with equal opportunities accorded to all in this country despite government development programs. Can the government act to salvage the situation the women have been subjected to?
The Writer is a Field Officer with Afiego