Monday, June 24th, 2013
On 24th/June/2013, Kyambogo University KUEMA Students committee presented a petition to the director of NEMA Uganda on issue of safeguarding the environment from the dangers of oil activities in Uganda.
This was an initiative that was supported by AFIEGO, a public policy research and advocacy NGO whose main objective is to promote good governance in the management and utilization of energy resources for the common good and national development without compromising the environment.
Read full petition below:-
RE: MEMORANDUM CONTAINING PROPOSALS FOR SAFEGUARDING THE ENVIRONMENT FROM THE DANGERS OF OIL ACIVITIES IN UGANDA BY THE KYAMBOGO UNIVERSITY KUEMA STUDENTS TO NEMA-UGANDA, 24TH JUNE 2013
1. Dear Executive Director, we wish to thank you for giving us an opportunity to meet and present our memorandum containing the proposals for safeguarding our environment from the possible dangers of oil development especially the wastes. We also thank you for the great leadership you are providing to the institution. We applaud you for taking steps to commence putting in place mechanisms for conserving the environment amidst oil activities.
We pledge to continue supporting your efforts for the good of our country. On 6th May 2013, we held a dialogue at Kyambogo University and discussed the issue of managing oil waste and environmental conservation in Uganda; how prepared is NEMA and the government at large.
The participants agreed to compile this memorandum and present it to you for consideration. The dialogue was supported by the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO)-a public policy research and advocacy NGO whose main objective is to promote good governance in the management and utilization of energy resources for the common good and national development without compromising the environment.
The students at the dialogue appreciated the following strategies being developed by NEMA and other sister institutions to ensure that oil and especially the oil waste does not negatively affect the environment in view of the following processes and weaknesses:
v The Environmental Sensitivity Atlas for Albertine Graben is in place but the public such as Universities are not involved in the implementation,
v There is secrecy around the Environmental Monitoring Plan (EMP) for the Graben, 2012,
v Waste Management Guidelines are nowhere to be seen by the public if they exist,
v Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) have continued to be done without public hearings and in a language that most local communities do not understand, and the enforcement is poor,
v There is a general lack of understanding of what the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) means and how it can be used effectively to conserve the biodiversity of the Graben amidst increasing oil activities,
v An oil spill contingency plan: Ugandans like us are hearing this only in the media. There is lack of public participation in this process.
v UWA’s efforts to draft separate General Management Plan for Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park and other reserves that incorporates oil & gas issues are good but may not succeed if the Uganda Wildlife Act is not reviewed in time through effective publicengagement and cooperation with NEMA – the lead environmental agency,
v Further, NFA’s efforts to put in place a Forest Management Plan for Maramagambo Central Forest Reserve to take care of oil issues may never succeed because they lack public support due to secrecy around it;
All in all, the good efforts by NEMA and all other relevant agencies of government are lacking public participation, a necessary ingredient for making good laws and effective implementation for the same and this is the reason why despite some good laws in other sectors, NEMA and other institutions have found it extremely difficult to save our natural resources such as lakes, rivers, forests and others from degradation. With oil, we must use past experiences to prepare and avoid similar or related mistakes.
In view of the above, dear Executive Director, we ask you to do the following for the good of Ugandans and the country at large;
1. Ensure that all the mechanisms for oil and environmental conservation are developed through effective public engagements/participation especially with university groups like us,
2. Draw a time frame within which all the necessaryenvironmental conservation tools should be put in place early enough to avoid NEMA being left behind by oil developments that are currently running at a very high speed,
3. Conduct public hearings for all oil and other related projects and translate EA reports in relevant local languages spoken by communities,
4. Facilitate universities to visit oil areas and see what is happening there for more information,
5. The review of environmental laws and policies should be done with public engagement and completed on an agreed time line before the commencement of oil production,
6. NEMA should get involved in the oil refinery project and ensure that the social fabric of the over 7,000 people who will be displaced is not distorted which may result into extermination of entire villages,
7. The issues of compensation and resettlement of oil affected local communities should be part of the EIAs,
8. NEMA should undertake independent EIAs for all the oil development options (refinery and pipeline) comparing environmental trade-offs required for each of the option to advise government and companies on how to proceed. An option that is environmentally friendly should be preferred to all others that are not environmentally friendly even when the financial gains are less. Environment should be first for all projects.
9. NEMA should conduct regular public awareness campaigns to educate Ugandans on issues of oil and environment. Most focus for public awareness should be on youth and local communities.
10. NEMA should advise Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and government to amend the Uganda Wildlife Act to prohibit the conduct of any oil activity in all sensitive areas of the protected areas of Uganda
Once again, we thank you for accepting to meet us and hope that you will implement our proposals.
For God and My Country.Signed by:
KYAMBOGO UNIVERSITY ENVIRONMENTAL
MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION (KUEMA)
P.0. BOX 1 KYAMBOGO
TEL: 0701412268, 0787845671, 0702963366