totalenergies’ east african oil pipeline devastating land loss and climate crisis
According to a report published by Human Rights Watch, the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) by Total Energies, a French fossil fuel colossus, has seriously harmed the livelihoods of thousands of people in Uganda. Over 100,000 people will be displaced by the project, which intends to link oilfields in western Uganda to the port of Tanga in eastern Tanzania, raising concerns that it may worsen the world’s climate problem. Human Rights Watch has highlighted how affected communities are impacted by land acquisition and compensation delays, emphasizing the terrible effects on local farmers and their families.
The 47-page paper “Our Trust is Broken: Loss of Land and Livelihoods for Oil Development in Uganda” offers a thorough overview of one of the biggest fossil fuel infrastructure projects presently being built. The study is based on interviews that Human Rights Watch conducted with 75 displaced households in five areas of Uganda at the beginning of 2023. The results show that even while 90% of people affected have received compensation, the process has been hampered by years-long delays and insufficient compensation, leading to severe financial hardships and food insecurity among affected communities.
Land Acquisition Challenges
Human Rights Watch found that ambiguous statements about the land usage during the interim period had contributed to the multiyear delays in compensation. Due to high household debt, food insecurity, and the inability to pay school fees, farmers who depended on the land for their livelihood and nutrition faced considerable difficulties. As a result, many kids were compelled to quit school, which exacerbated the project’s long-term socioeconomic effects on the affected communities.
Despite the fact that many farmers are illiterate in English, they felt pushed to sign compensation agreements in that language. In addition, contrary to international rules, many farmers received cash payments rather than the choice of new land. The relationship of trust between the communities and Total Energies has been further damaged by broken promises about grave relocations and enhanced quality of life.
Project Participants and Promised Standards
Along with the China National Offshore Oil Company, the state-owned oil corporations of Tanzania and Uganda, and China National Offshore Oil Company, Total Energies is the leading company involved in the EACOP project through its Ugandan subsidiary Total Energies EP Uganda. For Total Energies EP Uganda, Atacama Consulting and New plan Group oversaw the land acquisition procedure. Total Energies has committed to upholding international standards, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards, which strongly emphasis restoring or improving livelihoods to levels before the disruption. Human Rights Watch contends that to comply with human rights norms, Total Energies and its affiliates should increase their compensation and livelihood restoration efforts.
Environmental Concerns and Climate Crisis
Due to the pipeline’s path through delicate ecosystems, including protected regions and globally significant wetlands, the EACOP project faces serious environmental hazards. These ecosystems support diverse species and are essential to the well-being of nearby communities. Leading climate research organizations, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency, have issued warnings contradicted by the building and operation of EACOP. These organizations emphasis that for the world to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and lessen the worst effects of climate change, no new fossil fuel projects can be built.
Financial Institutions’ Role
Many financial institutions and insurance corporations have publicly stated their opposition to the EACOP project in response to opposition from global civil society organizations and climate campaigners. Due to the project’s adverse effects on the climate issue and the possibility for serious future human rights breaches, Human Rights Watch strongly advises funding institutions to stop financing EACOP. Instead, they urge these organizations to invest in Uganda’s sustainable energy potential.
The livelihoods of thousands of Ugandan farmers and their families have suffered significantly due to the EACOP project, which Total Energies is managing. The report from Human Rights Watch clarifies the project’s adverse environmental effects and difficulties with compensation and land acquisition. Moving away from fossil fuel initiatives like EACOP is necessary, given the urgency with which the global climate catastrophe must be addressed. Financial institutions are urged to assist Uganda’s efforts to promote renewable energy and support sustainable development while upholding human rights and preserving the environment.