The African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), a Ugandan environmental Non-Governmental Organisation(NGO) has been named among the recipients of this year’s Right Livelihood award for among other efforts to advocate for the stopping of the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.
AFIEGO was announced winner of the award on Thursday by Ole von Uexkull, the Executive Director at Right Livelihood.
“In the face of the global climate crisis, AFIEGO stands with communities against oil and gas exploitation projects. Resisting government and corporate threats, the organisation ensures that communities affected by colonialist extractive energy projects can raise their voices on national and international levels. With their bottom-up work at the intersection of societal, economic and environmental concerns, AFIEGO models a democratic and renewable energy path for African countries,” Uexkull said.
The East African Crude Oil Pipeline is 1,445-kilometer-long pipeline that draws crude oil from wells in western Uganda in Hoima district to Tanzania’s seaport of Tanga.
Recently, the European Union Members of Parliament voiced concern over “human rights violations” in Uganda and Tanzania linked to investment in the pipeline.
“There are human rights violations including wrongful imprisonment of human rights defenders, the arbitrary suspension of NGOs, arbitrary prison sentences and the eviction of hundreds of people from their land without fair and adequate compensation,” the EU parliament said, arguing that more than 100,000 people risk being displaced.
The EU lawmakers consequently asked TotalEnergies to take a year before launching the project to study the feasibility of an alternative route.
The development has since received a backlash from both the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments.
President Museveni on Tuesday described the EU legislators as egocentric and arrogant.
Some of these people(EU MPs) are insufferable. You(EU MPs) need to control yourself not to explode.(They are) so shallow, so egocentric and so wrong that they think they know everything broadcasting their ignorance all over the place but they should calm down. This is a wrong battleground for them,” Museveni said.
“We don’t take kindly to arrogance and that’s why we spent so many years sorting out issues with arrogant people. The plan will be implemented according to schedule. I hope our partners join us firmly and advise them. When you go to the European Union parliament these are just young girls. A young girl is lecturing me what to do in Uganda! I think somebody should counsel those young people.”
Museveni insisted that the pipeline construction will go on.
Speaking on Thursday, AFIEGO Executive Director, Dickens Kamugisha described the award as well deserving.
“For the work that we do here in Uganda, you need to be encouraged, you need to be motivated. We face a very hostile environment, including arrests. When the government knows that there are people around the world who appreciate our work, they think twice about attacking us or our communities. So this Award means that we can help many more communities,” Kamugisha said.
He noted that whatever government intends to do, they must look at the impact it will have on the population and the environment at large.
“Government of Uganda signed on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change that there is scientific evidence that climatic change is real. EACOP alone will be producing over 34million metric tons of carbon per year until the oil is exhausted. We can’t allow that to happen. We need to be very careful as a country because we have seen oil has caused so many problems in Africa.”
He noted there are no guarantees about compensation to communities living around the affected areas of oil production and the pipeline.
Recently, TotalEnergies launched a biodiversity program for its Tilenga oil project in the Albertine region.
Named the Tilenga biodiversity program, the project according to TotalEnergies is meant to ensure positive outcomes for biodiversity and communities are realized by applying the mitigation hierarchy to “avoid, minimize and restore” impacts.
The program will involve designing, implementing and monitoring a range of interventions in partnership with authorities, conservation actors present in the landscape and community based organizations including NEMA, Uganda Wildlife Authority and Petroleum Authority of Uganda.