The planned East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline has already “devastated” the livelihoods of thousands of Ugandan people who were displaced but have not received any or all compensation for their land since construction began earlier this year, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch.
When completed, the pipeline will displace 100,000 people, disrupt farmers’ ability to harvest coffee, bananas, and other cash crops, and cause severe environmental damage.
Farmers described being forced to sign agreements in English, which many don’t read. Cash payments and promises to relocate graves and provide improved infrastructure and social services have frequently failed to materialize.
“They come here promising us everything,” a resident said. “We believed them. Now we are landless, the compensation money is gone, what fields we have left are flooded, and dust fills the air.”
EACOP, owned by French oil company TotalEnergy, will stretch about 900 miles from western Uganda to the port of Tanga, Tanzania, if completed. However, the company has only secured about 60% of its funding, and it says compensation still owed to displaced residents will be paid as additional project funding is secured.
Projects such as EACOP have come under severe criticism, due not only to the climate, environmental, and human rights damage they cause, but also due to the economic threats that lie at the heart of the so-called “dash for African gas.” According to the Don’t Gas Africa campaign, pipeline and extraction projects on the content enrich foreign investors while risking some $1.4 trillion in projects becoming stranded assets, increasing debt burdens, and failing to deliver economic benefits to the communities who will suffer lost livelihoods and a degraded environment.