Government of Uganda is moving ahead with major oil development projects despite most of these being located in eco-sensitive areas that are of economic, climatological, and social importance to Ugandans. These include the Tilenga project, Kingfisher, and the crude oil pipeline EACOP. The 1,445km EACOP runs from the shores of Lake Albert in Uganda to the port of Tanga in Tanzania. It will be biggest pipeline project on land and in the world.
Currently, government is pushing ahead with the second oil exploration licensing round of five other blocks. Among them is the Ngaji block which covers Lake Edward and Queen Elizabeth National Park. These sensitive ecosystems play an important role in climatological stability, carbon absorption, income generation, and support millions of people through the provision of food, fresh water, and income from agriculture, fisheries, and tourism that no amount of money from oil exploitation can replace.
Experience from other oil producing countries such as Chad, Nigeria, Angola, South Sudan, shows that noncompliance to social and environmental safeguards enshrined in laws including international best practices usually leads to oil exploitation having devastating impacts on the environment and worsening livelihoods.
Indeed, Uganda’s biggest problem remains Lack of proper implementation of laws including connivance of some duty bearers with investors at the expense of communities and our environment.
Already we are facing the impacts of environmental destruction including climate change, the global Coronavirus pandemic, locusts, and food insecurity. These challenges are a result of environmental destruction that has seen the country lose most of her forests, swamps and wetlands, rivers and lakes, and many others. Climate change is recognized as one of the biggest threats to humanity.
Exploiting Uganda’s oil resources and increasing fossil fuel developments undermines our commitments under the Paris Climate Change Agreement whose overall goal is to curb global warming. Citizens and development partners should hold the government accountable to implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement, Uganda’s NDCs and ensure that oil companies comply to social and environmental safeguards, international best practice amidst oil developments in eco-sensitive areas.
Cirrus Kabaale, Programs Officer Just Energy Transition, Environment Governance Institute (EGI)