Community members in Kawaala Zone II in Kampala, Uganda have filed a complaint to the World Bank’s Inspection Panel following attempts to evict them from their homes and farmland without adequate compensation.
The eviction is intended to make way for the expansion of the Lubigi drainage channel, a project funded by the World Bank.
Their complaint comes just weeks after a declaration of a new Covid-19 lockdown in Kampala, leaving residents even more vulnerable to the impacts of eviction.
The residents want a fair and comprehensive resettlement process, following events last December
when excavators accompanied by armed guards began to evict residents, destroying homes and crops in
Before the fateful day, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) had distributed eviction notices throughout the area, requiring residents to vacate their land within 28 days.
The residents claim that they were not consulted or provided with compensation before evictions began, despite their recognised Kibanja land holding rights.
The drainage channel is part of a broader road and infrastructure project, the Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project, which has been carried out in two phases.
This project first impacted Kawaala Zone II around 2014, when a channel diversion was constructed. The current planned expansion will widen that channel and require forced evictions across an area at least 70 meters wide and 2.5 km long.
In the complaint, the residents allege that the impacts from the 2014 channel diversion have never been rectified.
These are: increased flooding and a lack of safe walkways or bridges, which has led to at least one death.
They say the planned expansion will worsen the flooding issues, loss of family grave sites, and loss of homes and farmland, the income from which is used to pay children’s school fees.
Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, country director of Witness Radio said: “Since last December, the KCCA has
pushed residents through a rushed and problematic resettlement process, pressured them to sign
documents in English that they do not understand and used threats and other coercive tactics to convince
them to relinquish their land rights. With the Covid-19 pandemic currently ravaging Uganda, residents
are even more vulnerable to the impacts of forced displacement, yet the project and the forced
displacement process have continued.”
Robi Chacha Mosenda of Accountability Counsel explained that since the project is receiving funding from
the World Bank, it is subject to the Bank’s commitments to provide fair compensation and resettlement
assistance prior to evicting anyone for a project it finances.
“As these commitments have not been upheld,
Kawaala community members are turning to the World Bank’s independent accountability office, the
Inspection Panel, to demand the right to resettle themselves with dignity,” he said.