Ugandan villagers locked out of forest waiting for the 'promised land' | Land Portal

By: Nicky Milne

Date: September 21st 2016

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation


BUKALEBA FOREST RESERVE, Uganda (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Deep within a pine and eucalyptus forest on the shores of Lake Victoria in southern Uganda, a parcel of land is pitting a Norwegian timber company against more than 10,000 villagers who say its "green" project is costing their homes and livelihood.


The land in dispute is 500 hectares within an area of about 6,500 hectares in the Bukaleba Forest Reserve, leased for 50 years in 1996 by Uganda's government to privately-owned Green Resources, one of Africa's largest forest companies.


Green Resources, whose 2,500-strong workforce has planted 41,000 hectares of forest in Uganda, Mozambique, and Tanzania, said it was proud of its environmental credentials, harvesting logs used across East Africa and selling into the carbon credit market.


Located 120 km (75 miles) from both the capital, Kampala, and the Kenyan border, the plantation at Bukaleba is in an ideal spot for wood production for use both in Uganda and for export.


But rather than being welcomed by the local community, the Ugandan project stands accused of evicting villagers who have lived on the land for generations and depriving them of livelihoods by taking land used to grow food or graze livestock.


"When we first arrived here, life was comfortable. We were farming and harvesting enough food, but those things are no more," said Olga Akello, who has lived in the Bukaleba forest for over 30 years.


"They took away our farmland and we have become beggars."


To appease villagers, President Yoweri Museveni pledged to allocate them 500 hectares of the leased land but this "promised land" has yet to materialize, setting communities against the company in a complex land dispute echoed across Africa.


Green Resources Director Teddy Nyamaizi Nsamba said this was a matter for the government to resolve as it was not within the company's mandate to hand over this land.


The company is proud of its efforts to help the communities, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview at Green Resources offices in Jinja, Uganda's second city.


Its website refers to benefits including creating jobs, supplying medical equipment to health centers, drilling bore holes for water, sponsoring girls through secondary education, and running HIV/AIDS awareness activities.


(...)


Read full article here


Photo source: CIFOR via Flickr/Creative Commons (CC By-NC-ND 2.0). Photo: © CIFOR

Copyright © Source (mentioned above). All rights reserved. The Land Portal distributes materials without the copyright owner’s permission based on the “fair use” doctrine of copyright, meaning that we post news articles for non-commercial, informative purposes. If you are the owner of the article or report and would like it to be removed, please contact us at hello@landportal.info and we will remove the posting immediately.

Various news items related to land governance are posted on the Land Portal every day by the Land Portal users, from various sources, such as news organizations and other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. The copyright lies with the source of the article; the Land Portal Foundation does not have the legal right to edit or correct the article, nor does the Foundation endorse its content. To make corrections or ask for permission to republish or other authorized use of this material, please contact the copyright holder.

Share this page