"Help us put our land to better use" the communities of Buvuma Islands demanded. "We have realized that we needed more time and information on the oil palm growing project to make informed decision", they said. This was during an information dissemination workshop organized by Ecological Trends Alliance targeting the district local government and the local communities. The information was based on a recently concluded research that discussed the advantages and the disadvantages of oil palm growing in Buvuma. It was clear from the results that in the long term the disadvantages outweighed the advantages of this oil palm project. This conclusion was made based on syntheses and lessons from the already established oil palm project in Kalangala Island.
The people of Buvuma were thankful of the information saying they had been enlightened. They however, decried that most of them had given their land already to the government based on the limited information they were given. While a section of them claimed their land was just grabbed from them. In all, they thought that the project was going to favor them.
Mr. Isiko Mutwalibi, a community member “was grateful for the information which was given to them and he continued saying that the government should not chase them away from their land because they have families to take care of and it is this land they grow food for their families and that they do not have anywhere else to go. His plea was to the effect that the compensation given to them by the government is very little, sometimes UGX 3million or less”. Therefore, it is better for government to help them plan on how to use their land better.
The Area Councilor Mr. William Bogere added that people are ignorantly selling off their land and so he was grateful about the workshop and he was confident that after educating people, they will be able to make smart choices after knowing the losses and benefits of the incoming oil palm project’.
Ms. Nakato Mariam, a community member “complained about her land where she planted a lot of coffee which the government now is claiming to take away from her that its government land. Ms. Gloria Kizza the District physical planner however, reiterated the need for initiating by-laws before the project kicks off adding that the community members should be sensitized and involved in the land use planning for the little land they have so that it can be able to make some good production.
This prompted Ms. Gladys Nalunkuma, the District Natural Resources Officer to advise that those who have not given in their land should not and insisted on the by-laws since they can no longer escape the oil palm project.
Article by: JUDITH NANTUMBWE, Intern, Community engagements, Ecological Trends Alliance