The recent findings by the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (Afiego) casts a dark cloud on the aftermath of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) project.
This seven-month research, conducted from April to November, 2023, evaluated the direct impact on the lives of individuals affected by the pipeline project.
The study shows that 90% of those identified as project affected persons (PAPs) witnessed a significant decline in their annual incomes following displacement due to the Eacop. Prior to the displacement, these individuals mentioned earning an average annual income of over Shs 300,000.
However, post-displacement, only 69.2% of the respondents reported maintaining a similar income level, which depicts a decline in the financial stability of these affected persons.
Diving deeper into the specifics, the data pointed out the shifts in income brackets. Before displacement, a mere 6.8% were earning an annual income ranging between Shs 210,000 and 300,000, 3% between Shs 110,000 and 200,000, and a minimal 0.8% between Shs 50,000 and 100,000.
In contrast, after displacement, the figures altered, with 14.2% earning between Shs 210,000 and 300,000, 9.7% earning Shs110,000 and 200,000, and 5.9% making ends meet between Shs 50,000 and 100,000. These numbers delineate the impact on income distribution among the affected persons.
However, what emerges as a concerning pattern is the reliance on loans to navigate the financial hurdles post-displacement. Almost half of the respondents (49%) resorted to acquiring loans, primarily from moneylenders (72.2%), at exorbitant interest rates reaching as high as 100%.
This dire situation unfolded due to delayed or inadequate compensations received by the affected individuals, hindering their businesses and forcing them to seek loans to sustain their livelihoods.
Moreover, despite the compensations received, the research brought to light the fact that 96.6% of the affected individuals who received cash compensation and attempted to purchase replacement land did not obtain land of equivalent value to that taken for the Eacop project.
Additionally, the replacement lands were reported to be less productive, further exacerbating the financial strain on these individuals. This situation has raised concerns among activists and legal experts. Dickens Kamugisha, the CEO of Afiego, highlighted that the Eacop, instead of bolstering socio-economic conditions, led to a regression in the lives of affected people.
This sentiment was echoed by Amina Acola, a lawyer, who emphasized the contravention of the rights of the affected individuals and the need for civil society support in seeking justice, potentially through litigation.
Furthermore, the failure to comply with international standards, particularly the International Finance Corporation (IFC) standards, notably standard five for restoring affected people to a similar or better position after displacement, was emphasized.
Afiego’s Comfert Aganyira expressed hope that financial institutions take note of these lapses while considering involvement in the Eacop project.
According to the researchers, the gravity of these findings is undeniable, and they underscore the urgent need for intervention and rectification to mitigate the adverse impacts on the lives of those affected by the Eacop project. Eacop is projected to be one of the largest infrastructure ventures in East Africa but the plight of the affected individuals due to the project remains a controversial issue.