BIRUDO through its work to promote Land Rights and Access to Justice with one of its focus is to build the capacity of women in defending their land and properties rights. During capacity building training of Ngwedo United Women Group members and teaching them on women rights on administration of land and other properties, the members identified a widow Miss Awekonimungu Evelyn who is wife to the late Alimange Simon a.k.a OBAYA of Ngwedo sub county in Ngwedo farm Village whom her properties rights were being violated by her deceased husband brothers Mr. Onenchan Francis and Mr. Opio Stephen.
BIRUDO paid a visit to Miss Awekonimungu Evelyn home to listen to her story and ascertain the truth of the allegations. It indeed found out that the rights of this widow were being violated. She was denied any form of access to her deceased husband’s property by her brothers in law who had assumed ownership of the whole estate including compensation money from their properties affected by oil activities. Mr. Onenchan Francis and Mr. Opio Stephen got proceeds from their brother’s estate but could not provide any form of maintenance for their late brother’s children. All the children were out of school for lack of school fees. When her deceased husband brothers Mr. Onenchan Francis and Mr. Opio Stephen learnt that BIRUDO had visit Miss Awekonimungu and she narrated her story to BIRUDO and BIRUDO promised to support her to again her properties rights, Onenchan Francis and Opio Stephen decided to attack the widow and forcefully chase her away from
her home. Immediately she reported her case to BIRUDOs’ Community Legal Volunteer (CLV) who referred the case to BIRUDOs’ project manager. BIRUDO had to support her to engage with Uganda Police force at Ngwedo Police station, who responded quickly and arrested both Onenchan Francis and Opio Stephen. Later on, Miss Awekonimungu requested BIRUDO to hold a mediation between her and Onenchan Francis and Opio Stephen including other family members. BIRUDO organised mediation sessions which were attended by Buliisa district community development officer (DCDO) and Uganda Police force family and children protection unit. The mediation enabled to identify all the deceased properties, UGX 950,000 out of the 1.2 million that Onenchan Francis and Opio
Stephen sold the deceased land without Awekonimungu and the children consent, was recovered from Onenchan Francis and Opio Stephen and both identified properties and the money recovered, were handed over to Miss Awekonimungu. The next step is, BIRUDO is supporting Miss Awekonimungu and the family to get formal letter of administration which will indicate who is or are the administrator/s of deceased’s estate. The letter of administration will help Miss Awekonimungu and the children in protecting their properties.
Due to Covid-19 domestic violence, sexual violence and gender based violence (GBV) is at high scale in Buliisa and Pakwach districts but it is often under reported due to different reasons like fear or stigma, lack of awareness of the benefits of seeking care, where to seek justice, cultural beliefs among others. The Buliisa Health Centre IV In-charge reports that there are 180 young girls below 24 years attending antenatal care at the facility since the lockdown in March 2020 to date. Men took advantage of school going girls because they are out of schools and now can be accessed by men any time.
On 1st September 2020, BIRUDO started awareness creation targeting girls and women to address issues of domestic violence, sexual violence, gender based violence and rights. In September 2020 BIRUDO reached 10 village of Kabolwa, Kisimo, Ajigo, Avogera, Ngwedo centre, Kigwera, Kisansya, Kigoya, Kityanga and Wanseko in Buliisa district.
During awareness, BIRUDO learnt that men, who are working on oil roads construction in Buliisa district, are impregnating most of young girls. Young girls pointed out that the biggest challenge to them is that the person responsible for pregnancy always deny the responsibility and they end up being punish by their parents and they are stigmatize and affect their reporting to health facilities for medical care or police for legal support. BIRUDO also learnt that these young girls stand high risk due to premarital sex and its associated results like HIV/AIDS and other STIs spread, unsafe abortion and early pregnancies, early marriages and exposure to cancer of the cervix and fistulas.
Most of these young girls stated that, the driving force are need for money to meet their basis needs and petty gifts from men who give them for example in Kisimo village a girl stated that she used to receive gifts from a man who pretended to love her who was working with the oil road contraction company CICO.
Parents’ negligence due to domestic violence or gender based violence created family separation. This affect these young girls on how to get necessities needs from their parents and miss out parental advice therefore, it affect their adolescent life.
They also stated that there is also peer group influence in school and in the villages as other girls convince others to go in for men.
This BIRUDO awareness program is being supported by KIOS Foundation.
BIRUDO staff had a one-day organisation capacity assessment workshop at Hoima Resort Hotel in Hoima Oil City on 25th August 2020. This was to assess BIRUDO capacity. 11 participant attended the workshop from both BIRUDO board and staff. The following key areas were assessed therefore governance, management practices, human resources, financial resources, service delivery, external relations and
sustainability. During the workshop BIRUDO board and staff learnt that all BIRUDO program must put beneficiaries at the center of the programs. They also learnt that, BIRUDO must ensure the following while implementing its programs: accountability, focus/strategy planning, trust, creative, deliver,
liability and build profile. Mr. Deogratias Yiga a consultant hire by KIOS Foundation facilitated the workshop to assessment BIRUDO capacity.
On 17th August 2020, BIRUDO held project performance review meeting with Ngwedo sub county HIV/AIDS committee with aim of updating the committee on performance of BIRUDO’s project supporting access to comprehensive HIV/AIDS care and TB service delivery in Buliisa district. BIRUDO is supporting 4 health facilities, therefore, Avegora Health Centre III, Kigwera Health Centre III, Buliisa Health Centre IV and Buliisa General Hospital.
Ngwedo sub county HIV/AIDS committee appreciated the work BIRUDO is doing, therefore, sensitization on HIV/AIDs, index testing, follow up of lost clients, contact tracing and door-to-door distribution of ARVs due to gap created by Covid-19 lockdown. Committee promised to support BIRUDO in fighting HIV/AIDS and TB.
BIRUDO learnt from the committee that there are high rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Ngwedo sub county due to high influx of people coming from different part of Uganda to work in oil and gas infrastructure development, this is as per result of high number of HIV/AIDS positive test in Avegora Health Centre III. On the same note, there are high malnutrition among Children living with HIV/AIDS causing death among them. Already 3 Children living with HIV/AIDS are in bad state, they need help.
On 11th August 2020, BIRUDO organized one day planning meeting with 10 CLVs and VHTs in Buliisa District to plan on how to response to emerging human rights issues amidst Covid-19. The meeting also prepared CLVs and VHTs to have capacity to respond to domestic/gender based violence, sexual harassment, child abuse, abortion, early marriages, early marriages, HIV/AIDS, Covid-19 protection and impact floods and likely disease outbreak due to flood. CLVs and VHTs were taken through referral pathways in case of community abuses or human rights violation reported to them. This meeting was conducted with support from KIOS Foundation.
Bugungu Community Association had 3 days retreat at Lweza Training and Conference Centre to review Environment and Social Management Plan (ESMP) for Tilange project. ESMP operationalizes plans of mitigating the serious environmental and social impacts of the Tilenga Project. Over 24 Bugungu community members who are affected by Tilange project participated in this retreat. The retreat funded by BIRUDO with support from KIOS Foundation. However, the participants send out letter to Total E&P demanding for more days to enable them effectively review ESMP document that is over 1500 pages. The following are the community reasons for demand for the additional days for the ESMP review.
1. Since the ESMP operationalizes plans of mitigating the serious environmental and social impacts of the Tilenga Project, it requires meaningful consultation of the project affected communities to get their comments into the ESMP.
2. We have several concerns about the process behind the development and review of the ESMP as detailed below:
a. The 30 days’ timeframe you gave to review ESMP of over 1,500 pages of technical documents and provide written comments is unrealistic. This will not be a reasonable timeframe to enable communities and other stakeholders to meaningfully review ESMP in detail.
b. The documents are not in local languages and thus needs more time to internalize and explain to local communities. Majority do not understand English.
c. There are no non-technical summaries, videos, and infographics presenting information in more accessible formats and languages for easy communication to the local communities and stakeholders.
d. There seems to be no plan to consult with communities who do not have internet access or equipment to engage in virtual meetings.
e. We were not consulted during the development of this document and this is the first time we are seeing it.
f. Nobody has communicated any plans for funded and compensated community-led review of the ESMP and monitoring systems of the impacts of the project.
g. Only part of the ESMP has been shared with us. We believe that all parts of the ESMP document are interlinked, therefore we need to review the full ESMP documents together.
3. For these reasons, the process you outline will not fulfill Total’s human rights and environmental requirements under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises or United National Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We are also urging National Environmental Management Authority to withhold any required approvals for the Tilenga project until the above steps have been taken. While we recognize these are meant to be living documents, it is important to recognize that the process you have outlined cannot not be considered consultation.
4. We cannot engage effectively in this process until a genuine effort is made by Total to develop a meaningful consultation process, including the dissemination of the information in an accessible form followed by a minimum of 90 days for public comment. In this regard, we are requesting an extension of the review timeframe and meaningful engagement on the ESMP review process. Please provide documents in local languages (Lugungu and Alur), non-technical summaries, and key ideas and concepts pulled out in accessible formats like infographics and videos for us. Please also provide us support and funding to hire our own independent experts of choice to review information. We also want an explanation as to why we were not consulted as this document was being developed. We also want to better understand what plans if any you have for (compensated) community-led monitoring systems for environmental and social impacts.
Finally, we want to highlight that the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns are not an excuse to push forward projects without meaningful consultations. If anything, Total should be stepping up and engaging in innovative forms of consultation with communities. We look forward to working with you in this regard.
On the 14th day of March 2018, BIRUDO helped Kiiza Alice Balamu Aheebwa to regain her land that had been grabbed from her by the Bahukwa Clan. Alice had owned the land in question for over 20 years in Kijangi Village in Buliisa Sub-County. BIRUDO successfully mediated this case with the help of elders and clan members. Finally, the Bahukwa Clan agreed to handover the land to Alice. Thereafter, both parties signed a Consent Agreement and the duo parties peacefully demarcated the land boundary.
With support from Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), BIRUDO has this July/August 2017 has been focusing exclusively on strengthening capacity of women participation in oil and gas development through informing women of their land rights, and on documenting how women have been affected by land transactions related to the construction of oil infrastructure. The program is focused on the five villages closest to the area in which the Central Processing Facility (CPF) is planned, namely Kisomere, Kasenyi, Uduuk II, Kibambura, and Kirama. BIRUDO will then take forward the women’s concerns and complaints to both sub-county representatives, and the district administration.
Local community in Kakoora Village in Buliisa Sub county in Buliisa District attending a awareness meeting organised by BIRUDO with support from USAID and UKaid GAPP Program. The meeting was organised with the purpose to ensure that local community benefit from local government livelihood programs and promote good governance and accountability. Sub County community development officer Ms. Mulinzi Joseline was used to sensitize the local community. During the awareness Ms. Mulinzi presented how local community can benefit from youth livelihood program, PRDP, women empowerment program, operation wealth creation, UWA revenue sharing, social action grant for older person and NUSAF III.
However, the local community of Kakoora Village complained that in most cases they are left out and their local council I chairperson is alway not involve in these programs. Ms. Mulinzi promised to help community members in forming groups and filling forms so that they benefit from these program.
Today BIRUDO has started raising awareness on public finance management Act 2015 mostly on royalties sharing and ways to manage local communities and their leader’s expectations in the next phase of the oil and gas production at village levels. This activity is supported by Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI). Local communities in Muvlue Village in Ngwedo Sub County Buliisa District attending the awareness meeting.
During the meeting a women raised a complaint on how road construction is destroying their crops without compensation. She said, she always earned income out of these destroyed crops from tourists who pass by to Murchison Falls National Park. BIRUDO staff after the meeting visited her field.