“Our first meeting with Total they said, ‘Your standard of living will be elevated, you will no longer be poor,” a 48-year-old Ugandan woman supporting seven children, told Human Rights Watch in March. “Now with the oil project starting, we are landless and are the poorest in the country.”
The woman was referring to the French fossil-fuel giant Total Energies. Her comments are included in a Human Rights Watch 47-page report — Our Trust Is Broken: Loss of Land and Livelihoods for Oil in Uganda — released Monday.
According to the rights organization, if the pipeline is completed, it will result in the displacement of more than 100,000 people, cause food insecurity and household debt. It will also force children to leave schools.
TotalEnergies does not view the project in the same way and said on its website that “Each family whose primary residence is being relocated may choose between a new home and monetary compensation in kind. An accessible, transparent and fair complaints-handling system will be running throughout the process.”
HRW says that while 90% of the people who have lost land to the pipeline project have received financial compensation, the payments were delayed for years and people were inadequately compensated.
Nicolas Terraz, vice president, TotalEnergies E&P Africa, said in a statement on the website, that his company has “been in close contact with the local people and has been striving to minimize the projects’ impact on the local community. We are proud to be a part of these major developments for the Company that promise to transform their host countries.”
“EACOP [East African Crude Oil Pipeline] is also a disaster for the planet and the project should not be completed,” said Felix Horne, HRW senior environment researcher.
“The pipeline route traverses sensitive ecosystems, including protected areas and internationally significant wetlands, posing threats to biodiversity and ecosystems that local communities depend on for their sustenance,” HRW said.
Some financial and insurance companies have already said they will not support the pipeline because of the risks it poses and the backlash from environmental activists.
TotalEnergies said on its website: “The route of the pipeline was designed to avoid areas of environmental interest as much as possible, and generally crosses farming areas.”