EACOP : Delayed compensation along the EACOP route; Implications and policy proposals

On Sunday 11th April 2021, oil companies and the governments of Uganda and Tanzania signed three accords: a tariff and transportation agreement, shareholding agreement, and Host Government Agreement. The signing of these paves the way for the development of key oil infrastructure projects, such as the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). The 1,443-kilometer pipeline from Kabaale in Hoima District, Uganda, to Chongoleani, Tanga Region, in Tanzania, incudes a 296 km stretch of the pipeline in Uganda, through the 10 Districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Mubende, Gomba, Sembabule, Lwengo, Rakai and Kyotera; 27 Sub-counties, 3 Town Councils and 171 Villages.

Therefore, the Government of Uganda is acquiring the land in public interest as per the laws of Uganda for the purposes of EACOP. Due to the fact that land acquisition will result in the involuntary resettlement of affected communities and, as required by international standards, this necessitated the preparation of a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP), which was accordingly prepared. The RAP details the management approach to the acquisition of land and relocation of people affected by Project land requirements of the EACOP.

Although the processes leading to the compensation and resettlement of people living adjacent to the project have progressed, there are various concerns that require attention that include the following;

1. Land based livelihoods and effects of uncertainty over land use

According to the EACOP RAP, the pipeline route (92%) runs through rural areas, the livelihoods of most families or people impacted by EACOP are land based, with households growing crops and economic trees for their own subsistence consumption and income generation. The delays in compensation, and the farming limitations initially communicated impacted households – requiring them to only grow seasonal crops- Alice Kemizaano, a PAP in Mabengere LC 1, Mpasana Sub County confirms this. This greatly affected the PAPs’ incomes and standard of living.

The initial cutoff envisaged timelines were perhaps affected by a number of factors, but communication to families or people impacted by EACOP to re-ignite usage of the land was not received timely and thus had negative consequences. The likely and current effects are hunger, loss of income, and perhaps resulting into total livelihoods disruptions for many of the families or people impacted by EACOP.

2. Time lag after assessment and the related anxiety

The delays in compensation, and the farming limitations initially communicated impacted households – requiring them to only grow seasonal crops. “we were earlier in 2018 told in meetings that the compensation would happen in a short-while and therefore advised to grow only short-term crops that we would be harvested in not more than 6months”- Alice Kemizaano, a PAP in Mabengere LC 1, Mpasaana Sub County. Although there are reports that the PAPs were later advised to continue using their land, there was already anxiety and uncertainty arising from the various different communications. During the initial periods oof COVID 19 (March- June 2020), there was total breakdown of information flow surrounding compensation processes. “Newplan and ICS- the companies that were doing assessments and engaging PAPs simply abandoned field and PAPs were left in dark”- Ambrose Kisembo, a community facilitator in Mpasana, Kakumiro District asserts. All these raise questions of; will the compensation values be updated? perhaps yes, but will the value updates cover appropriately the time lag/delays and none full usage of the land arising from inconsistences in communication? These questions remain un answered with many PAPs.

3. Grievance Management mechanisms

Businge Glesemu- Kijungu LC 1, Mpasana claims that the assessment indicated that his land (Kibanja) of 1acre considered was bare/ plain of any crops yet in actual sense it had various cash crops including coffee, cocoa, mangoes, and others which all missed out on the assessment forms. He further asserts the assessors just “ambushed” him and handed him papers to sign without due explanation, only to realize later that the returned assessment forms signed never contained any cash crops that were actually existing on the considered land. This is one of the various such grievances that seem not to have been conclusively handled. The IFC performance standards enjoin clients to have in place grievance mechanism for receiving and addressing concerns relating to compensation and relocation raised by the displaced persons or members of the host community in a timely fashion. The IFC standards state that “the client will establish a grievance mechanism as early as possible in the project development phase”.

4. Limited Support mechanisms for disadvantaged groups

Section 6(1) of the Land Acquisition Act Cap 226 states that “the Assessment Officer shall make an apportionment of the compensation among all the persons known or believed by him or her to have an interest in the land, whether or not they have appeared before him or her”. The World Bank Operational Policy states that “particular attention be paid to the needs of vulnerable groups including, the women and children.

“My husband whose name was put on the assessment forms passed on (died) before the forms returned for signing. Although I was legally married to him, when forms returned, I was not allowed to sign them on behalf of my household and I was simply told that the names on the form would first have to be changed. No information was given to me on how I would cause a change of the household representative, but I only learnt later that the process requires letters of administration, among other things”. Alice Kemizaano, Mabengere LC 1, Mpasaana Sub County.

Recommendations / Proposals

  1. Expedite the process, and communicate to stakeholders especially the families or people impacted by EACOP the new timelines for, full, fair and adequate compensation. In addition, IFC- G37 provides that “Compensation for economic displacement resulting from land acquisition should be made promptly in order to minimize adverse impacts on the income streams of those who are displaced”
  2. Provide financial or in-kind assistance to families or people impacted by EACOP developments and delays, including those who had been given information preventing them from full utilization of their land. Such communities require restoration of their livelihoods as they await full compensation.
  3. Establish an inclusive support mechanism and Operationalize the families or people impacted by EACOP Centered Grievance Management System. Experience has shown that by opening up the decision-making process and including all stakeholders – this often reduces risk and conflicts by creating shared ownership and cooperation. It is recommended that any decisions regarding the affected communities should involve the respective Local Governments. The community development officers (CDOs) based in every Sub County need to be capacitated to support grievances management working with the other EACOP available community/ stakeholder’s liaison structures. The established Community Grievance committees should be adequately prepared and equipped. The community grievance management system should ideally include implementation and maintaining a procedure for grievance management that includes methods to (i) receive and register grievances and concerns from the public; (ii) screening and assessing the issues raised and determine how to address them; (iii) provide, track, and document responses, if any; and (iv) regular consultative review and adjustments in the grievance management program, as appropriate. In addition, a well explained grievances referral mechanism of grievances should be in place.
  4. Updating of compensation values due to families or people impacted by EACOP. Because of the time lag between assessment and compensation, the values assessed (using the rates then) could be very inappropriate and not commensurate to cover for further developments on the land, inflation and other factors over time. All these call for appropriate actions to make compensation fair enough. Section 59 of the land act provides that the district land board shall put in place a list of compensation values which is reviewed every year. For land compensations, the law (Land Acquisition Act) provides that the assessment is to be done by the assessment officer, who at present is the chief government valuer.
  5. Timely and accurate free flowing information to stakeholders especially the families or people impacted by EACOP and the Local Governments that provide first instance support and response. There is need for effective Resettlement Action Plan communication and implementation to eliminate infringing on the rights of families or people impacted by EACOP.