Ngetha Media Association for Peace Empowered Communities of Ngwedu in Buliisa District to See, think and speak for themselves using Films

On Sunday, November 4th, 2018, Ngetha Media Association for Peace (NMAP) held Public film screening in Buliisa district to educate the communities and raise awareness on the negative impacts of Oil and gas exploratory and drilling activities on community’s lives and on environments. The Public film screening was part of Ngetha Media Association for Peace ongoing project “Human Rights Education, Advocacy and legal defense in support of environment and rural activists in Uganda” supported by Land is Life. The purpose of the Public Film screening was to inform the communities of Ngwedu in Buliisa district of their human rights and the legal processes companies are required to follow; bring people together from communities already affected by Oil industry activity to share information and work in solidarity to mitigate the negative impacts of Oil and gas exploratory activities as well as encouraging the people of Ngwedu to make more informed decisions in the defense of their lands and environments.

The Public film screening took place at Avogera Primary School playground in Ngwedu Sub County, Buliisa district, brought together at least over 3000 participants from different villages and parishes in Ngwedu Sub county representing peasants communities, youth, women, men,Community based organizations, religious leaders , and cultural leaders as well as representative from local government and the media fraternity and security personnel .

Other Ngetha Media Association for Peace partner organizations present were Lake Albert Social Network (LASNET), Biologisk Mangfald Tidning , Seventeen Nineteen Sixteen Great African Publishers and the Landless Peasants Movement in Uganda were also present at the Public film screening.

The film was hosted by Ngetha Media Association for Peace colleague Mr. Oyergiu Joshua who is also the founding member of Lake Albert Social Network (LASNET). He appreciated the communities of Ngwedu for valuing the efforts of Ngetha Media Association for Peace in ensuring that human rights of the most marginalized communities in Uganda is respected and the people are listened to .Joshua also appreciated the local government authorities including the police, community development officer, internal security officer and all the chairperson local councils one and the councilors for accepting Ngetha Media Association for Peace to operate in the sub county .Additionally , he thanked the communities for turning up for the film in big numbers.

Mr. Jakisa Steven Ngetha Media Association for Peace project coordinator for Buliisa district appreciated all the people who participated in the public film screening. Jakisa Steven ensured the participants and project beneficiaries that this was not the first time Ngetha Media Association is engaging the communities in public education program using films and creative ventures but rather it’s a follow up to various activities Ngetha Media Association for Peace had convened in the areas since 2017. Ms. He said Ngetha Media Association for Peace will continue to engage and empower community of Ngwedu to see, think and speak for themselves in defense of their land, human and environmental rights.

In May this year,Ngetha Media Association for Peace planted 2000 trees in Ngwedu and engaged we over 1500 participants including leaders from local government, community based organisations, youth, women, peasants, cultural leaders, local opinion leaders and media activists among others on the issues of land rights , environmental protection, climate change as well as the impacts of Oil and gas exploratory activities on the lives of communities along the proposed pipeline routes.

Ngeth Media Assopciation for Peace has been working with Lake Albert Social Network, Landless Peasants Movement and the Biologisk Mangfald Tidning at local level since 2017 to sensitize communities in the Albertine region along the proposed pipeline on the impacts of climate change, Oil and gas exploratory activities and land as well as human rights among others.

The films that were broadcasted , were filmed in Niger Delta in the Ogoni Land during Shell exploratory activities in Ogoni Niger Delta in Nigeria .The films contained clear examples of how irresponsible government policies and that of Oil companies if not regulated can lead to suffering and eviction of communities who are the stewards of the natural resources being exploited.

The films lasted for 4 hours after which a discussion was opened, Oyergiu Joshshua and Jakisa Steven invited the participants to give their views on the film in relations to the impacts of oil and gas activities on Uganda’s environment, how youth, women and community based organizations are prepared to take part and get involved in the struggle to defend and protect their land, human and environmental rights.

Many participants questioned to what extent and transparent is the Tilenga project is and also how inclusive is the Oil project is regarding the voice of local people? Participants noted that local leaders as well as the Oil companies are not doing enough to educate local communities affected by the project on the impacts of Oil and gas drilling. They blamed TOTAL for not being honest in their dealings because most of the information which the community thought can be made available to them by the Oil companies is instead hidden away from them.

Moses cited out that the work on Central Processing Facilities has already started in Ngwedu Kasinyi but people are being kicked out of their land in Buliisa without fair compensation of properties. He said that such methods of kicking people from their land without fair compensation is going to lead to serious conflicts and death of many people .He said people are ready to do whatever things possible to defend them-selves from dangers arriving as a result of the Oil drilling.

Jakisa Steven called on the public film participants to ensure that they go and participate in the Public hearings on the Tilenga project that will take place on 12th of November 2018 at Buliisa District headquarters. He invited community members of Ngwedu to unite and forget about tribalism and against oil activities that can destroy environment and can violate human rights .He also said that its illegal to drill in protected areas such as Murchison Falls National park and he called on Total to ensure that they follow International drilling procedures and standards applicable to ensure the safety of environments for the benefits of present and future generation.

Ngetha Media Association for Peace thanked the community of Ngwedu for turning up in the Public Film screening. Joshua on behalf of Ngetha Media Association for Peace noted that Ngetha Media will continue to engage and empower local communities to see, think and act for themselves. He encouraged community representatives not to wait for Ngetha Media Association for Peace or any other NGO to help them protect their land and environments but to mobilize fellow communities and engage district leaders, Oil companies and authorities to conserve and protect environments ,He called on the communities to go for the Public hearing of the Tilenga ESIA reports due on 12th November at Buliisa district headquarters.

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