The Ugandan Government’s willingness to allow foreign companies access to Ugandan land, and forest, is leading to the displacement of local communities and the destruction of their traditional way of life. The large-scale handover of the land they depend on threatens their livelihoods and infringes their basic human rights.
The Ugandan Government along with private investors Wilmar International and BIDCO are developing palm oil plantations on pristine islands in Kalangala, Lake Victoria.
The project is promoted as bringing development to the islands, but communities who rely on subsistence agriculture and the local forests for survival say their land and livelihoods are being destroyed.
On her 2.5 acres of land in Kalangala, Uganda, Imelda grows sweet potatoes, cassava, banana, yams, and rears goats. She has 9 children. She and her family have been threatened by the palm oil company representatives who say that the land is theirs and want her to move away. Elite land owners are constantly looking for land to sell or lease to the company, everyone’s land or right to land is under scrutiny as profit motives begin to tear apart a subsistent society. Her husband is a heavy drinker and she sees no income from him, her only source of income is from the food she grows on her small plot of land.
Reokadia is 65 years old and she lives in Kalangala, Uganda with her husband, 6 children and 4 grandchildren. She has 4 acres of land that belongs to the local church. She is angry about the way the company has not only destroyed the forest but then restricted their access to fire wood. She says all the surrounding forests have been cut down, the wood that lays on the ground is now rotting and when her children attempt to gather some for cooking, the company employees chase them away. With these increased levels of poverty due to lack access to land, many people are now turning to charcoal production as a form of income generation, further contributing to deforestation.
Andrea lives in Kalangala, Uganda. On his 2 acres of land, he grows cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas, yams, passion fruit. He has 3 children and many grand children. Three generations of his family have worked and lived off the land. He has titles to the land and has been tempted to lease the land, but after he found that the land would be sterile after producing palm he decided to continue farming for food. He wants to protect his land and pass it on to future generations.