Community development misses target
“What is the use of medicine if we have no land to grow food and no schools to ensure there is a future for our children?” Villager, Mayuge District.
Green Resources has committed that ten percent of profits will be directed towards community projects,[i] and as part of its community development plan, albeit with limited consultation with affected villagers, Green Resources has implemented projects related to health, education and the promotion of alternative income generation activities.
Some benefits for some people
Over nearly two decades of operation in Uganda, the company has rehabilitated a health centre, provided some medical supplies, it has drilled bore holes and rehabilitated spring wells, provided scholarships for young girls through the “Girls’ Education” program to attend school up to university entry point,[ii] distributed free tree seedlings and promoted tree planting, undertaken an efficient cook stove project, established community woodlots, enabled community access to fuel-wood from thinning and pruning, and with financial support from the Foundation for Integrated Rural Development, has implemented HIV/AIDS awareness activities.[iii] While these projects have delivered some tangible benefits for people from affected villages, this is a far cry from a comprehensive plan for development, and falls short on Green Resources’ stated objective to deliver community development and poverty alleviation.
Projects fail to deliver most needed benefits
While some community leaders affirmed the benefit of projects started as part of the company’s community development work, most community members (and some community leaders) did not identify any of these projects as delivering the benefits most needed. One widow was echoed in agreement by several other people, saying, “What is the use of medicine if we have no land to grow food and no schools to ensure there is a future for our children?”[iv] Overwhelmingly, villagers spoke of their loss of land as the most pressing need, albeit occasionally people talked about sanitation, health, and education. This is despite the company’s own claim that they have shifted from an earlier top-down to a more consultative approach with affected communities.[v]
Food is the crucial issue
By all accounts from villagers, the crucial issue is food and growing hunger, something the company has clearly failed to alleviate, despite promises. Since 2007, Green Resources has committed to set aside 500 hectares within their license area at Bukaleba for community land[vi]–including for agriculture and tree planting activities–yet at the time of the field visit in September 2013, villagers had still not secured access to this land. Confusion continues amongst local villagers about the changeable boundary of the designated community land, as well as who is eligible to access and use this land.
i Mugambe, R. The Kachung Plantation Project (KPP). Op. Cit.; UNFCCC/ CCNUCC. Project Design Document Form For Afforestation and Reforestation Project Activities. Op. Cit.
ii Local government officer, interview, Mayuge district, July 29, 2013; Interview with local government officer, July 31, 2013.
iii UNFCCC/CCNUCC. 2012. Monitoring Report Form. Kachung Forest Project. Op. Cit.; Green Resources. Company Report; UNFCCC/CCNUCC. Project Design Document Form For Afforestation and Reforestation Project Activities. Op. Cit.
iv Middle-aged woman, focus group discussion, Mayuge District, July 31, 2013.
v Green Resources employee, interview, Dokolo district, August 12, 2013.
vi UNFCCC/CCNUCC. 2012. Monitoring Report Form. Kachung Forest Project. Op. Cit.