In December, 2019 a Court of Appeal judge allowed Hoima Sugar limited to destroy 22 Square miles of the disputed Bugoma Central Forest Reserve land in Hoima District and turn it into a sugarcane plantation. The National Forest Authority (NFA) had gone to the appellant Court to challenge a similar decision by the High Court.
The National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) with support from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is carrying out a campaign on sound management of chemicals and wastes in Uganda. The campaign focuses mainly on the safe use of chemicals in the tannery Industry, Agro chemicals, waste management, chemicals in consumer products and mercury use in the artisanal gold mining targeting different categories of people. Awareness raising materials have been developed to propel this campaign. This campaign is a continuous effort of NAPE to raise awareness on the impacts of chemicals on human health and the environment and to empower consumers with information on chemicals and good practices regarding use and management of chemicals. Click here for Publications developed in line with this campaign
National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) has embarked on the process of donating COVID-19 prevention materials to several districts in central and mid-western Uganda that it works closely with. These materials include hand-wash tanks, infra-red thermometers, sanitisers and posters with messages on how the spread of COVID can be curbed.
Mr. Frank Muramuzi, the NAPE Executive Director said that the COVID-19 prevention materials were being donated in line with the President’s call to organisations and private individuals to contribute towards the efforts to curb the pandemic. He said that the targeted Districts include Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Hoima, Kikuube and Buliisa. These Districts are also covered by the NAPE established Community Green Radio (CGR).
The process of distributing the COVID prevention materials was kick-started in Kiboga Town Council on Thursday, 22nd May, 2020 with NAPE handing over items which included 17 handwash tanks, 6 infra-red thermometres, masks and sanitisers to the District COVID-19 Task Force.
Mr. Muramuzi who led the NAPE team, handed over the materials to Al Hajji Umar Lule Mawiya, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) for Kiboga who is also the Chairperson of the District Task Force.
“We listened to the President carefully while he talked about the need for us all to join hands in fighting the corona virus. We contacted our development partners who were also concerned like us about the pandemic and they have started sending us the required support,” Muramuzi said.
While receiving the donations, RDC Mawiya expressed thanks and gratitude to NAPE for contributing generously to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
He recognised the efforts of the Community Green Radio in disseminating information to the communities on how they can keep themselves safe from contracting COVID-19.
“We all need to do whatever it takes to ensure that we overcome this battle. The coronavirus, if not stemmed, will have a huge negative impact on the most vulnerable communities and it poses a huge risk to efforts and progress towards defeating poverty,” Mawiya said.
Israel Yiga, the Kiboga District LCV chairperson also commended the Community Green Radio for disseminating regular information on COVID-19 prevention and on the environment. He said that the donations made were essential and timely.
National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) has received the 2019 Uganda Responsible Investment (URI) Award for being the best environmental protection organisation of the year.
NAPE was recognized and appreciated for its contribution towards attainment of Uganda Vision 2040 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SGDs) through promoting and upholding international best practices and standards.
The certificate of award was received by the NAPE Executive Director, Mr. Frank Muramuzi on 22nd November, 2019 during a high level Uganda Responsible Investment Summit and award ceremony that was presided over by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The ceremony that was held at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala was organised by Public Opinions and Office of the Minister of State for Privatization and Investment.
Addressing the participants, President Museveni expressed concern over massive degradation of wetlands and forests which he said he will not tolerate any longer. He attacked irresponsible investors who have degraded forests and wetlands thinking they are promoting sustainable development yet they are greatly contributing to climate change.
Mr. Muramuzi said the award manifests the visible achievements by NAPE especially in areas of environment protection and human rights.
“Now that the government has come out to recognize our efforts, it means that NAPE has hit its target and goals as an environmental organization,” Muramuzi said while addressing staff.
Mr. Rajab Bwengye, the Coordinator of Projects at NAPE said that receiving the award is a clear sign of the firm footprint that NAPE has put in the struggle to protect and conserve the environment in Uganda and beyond.
“NAPE has been criticizing big environmental polluters and degraders, manufacturing industries, mining companies, oil companies, companies producing consumer products using chemicals and others. So being awarded as the best environmental organization in the presence of sector players is an indicator that we have done our part to ensure that these private sector companies observe the laws, guidelines and best practices for environmental protection,” Mr. Bwengye said.
NAPE has been at the forefront in campaigns against environmental degradation which among others include; campaign to save Mabira Forest, campaign against Bujagali falls destruction and the save Bugoma Forest campaign.
In 2007, NAPE disputed the giveaway of around 27 square kilometers of Mabira forest to Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL) owned by Mehta Group of Companies for sugarcane plantations. The government in collaboration with SCOUL had proposed to de-gazette this part of the forested land and transfer its ownership to the sugar company. NAPE in conjunction with other civil society groups in Kampala formed a pressure group codenamed „Save Mabira Crusade‟ which mobilized Ugandans across the country and beyond to protest the forest de-gazettement plan.
The government bowed to pressure and abandoned the plan to de-gazette the forest. However, in 2011, the government again attempted to resurrect the de-gazettement plan but NAPE and other civil society met the president who suggested a joint research between the activists and State House on economic values of the forest which would inform the government on their next step. Since then, the government has kept silent on the Mabira forest issues.
NAPE was also against the construction of Bujagali power dam saying it would not benefit Ugandans and it presented numerous social, economic and environmental problems. However, the Government and World Bank did not listen to the concerns of environmental activists and went ahead to approve the dam project in 2001.
Today the dam that was expected to add 250 MW to the national grid is unable to produce 180 MW and electricity demand continues to rise in the country.
In Albertine Region, NAPE has campaigns against Bugoma forest give-away for Sugar cane plantation, campaign on food security and seed sovereignty and protection of sacred natural sites.
ISSUED BY THE NAPE COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT
With some of the characters from Hoima and Buliisa, the documentary, Women Hold Up the Sky tells the story of how women activists affected by mining and other forms of large-scale extractives in Uganda, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are deeply engaged in resistance and active struggle to take back the control of their land, rights, bodies and their lives.
“Now that we are back on the land, nobody should interfere with our rights as women. If they come to evict us again, we will die to the last person standing,” said Lucy Ongiera a community group leader for Rwamutonga women savings group in Hoima district in the film.
It reveals the experience and activism of women in the three African countries but tells a much bigger story of the ongoing exploitation of natural resources and marginalization of poor communities, particularly women.
“The oil companies destroyed our crops, driving through with the tractors, graders, wires and trucks. When they came to pay, I realized the money they brought was not the right amount, so I rejected it. When I complained, they said they don’t care. I went to court to sue them. And the case has been in the high court since 2011, motionless. We are like squirrels against an elephant because the elephant is huge and can run over you and squash you,” said Margaret Kagole, the chairperson of the TulimeHamu Mbibo Zikadde Women’s group in Buliisa, another character in the film.
The film that was done with support from the WoMIN-an, African Gender and Extractives Alliance, in partnership with the National Association of professional Environmentalists (NAPE) The Uganda film launch was attended by women affected by oil developments, women activists, government leaders who pledged to unite together to strongly hold up their struggles on land and their rights in the era of oil development.
“I have heard in the documentary one women saying that her husband was beaten and left unconscious during eviction in Rwamutonga. What if it was my husband, me who has no eyes, who can’t see? How would I have looked for him? Some of these real-life stories make us emotional but it’s a lesson for us as women to stand up and fight for our land. We need to come together as women,” said Joy Nalongo Rufunda, the Chairperson of Blind women association.
Margret Kagole from Buliisa said women should not give up in fighting for their rights on land and be organized in groups to be able to have one strong collective voice.
“I thank NAPE for empowering me. I have been empowered to stand up and fight for what belongs to me. Like for my land case that has been in court since 2011, I think the people I am battling with have now feared me. They have started calling me for peace talks but I refused because I have my lawyer. I have heard it in corridors that I will be compensated. This is what we need as women. We hold on, we don’t give up,” Kagole said.
Bernadette Plan, the Secretary for Gender for Hoima District asked women to work hard and hold up to their struggles against the injustices that have come with oil development in the district with the sky being the limit.
Catherine Byenkya, the Minister for Health in Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom hailed NAPE for going on ground to bring out the untold stories of women. She asked women to work together as women and build a platform where the voices from the grassroots to national level can be heard.
“Thank you, NAPE, for loving women. Let’s work together as women to build ourselves. Let’s stand bold and speak up in defending our rights on land,” said Catherine Byenkya.
Sostine Namanya, the Gender and Food Security Officer at NAPE applauded women who took part in the documentary. She said land issues, environmental degradation and climate displacements affect women most and the documentary gives a lesson on what women face in other countries compared to Uganda and how they are taking on their resistance struggles.
She added that ‘’ Women hold up the sky’’ is a character-driven film about African women who are deeply engaged in struggles to take back control of their land, their rights, their bodies and their lives. The film tells us about women’s experiences and their dreams for development.
The film will be used by allies in the global North will use it for training, political education, lobbying and advocacy. The film will also be the centrepiece of a women-led women’s rights African campaign on fossil fuels, energy and climate justice.
The film will cultivate greater awareness of the costs of extractives-driven development, and its gendered costs, amongst civil society organisations and the wider public, and it will be used to advocate and campaign for the needed development alternatives to governments and multilateral bodies, like the African Union and the United Nations.
Co-written by Precious Naturinda & Namanya Sostine