Oil Refinery Compensation: Wives Miss Out on Windfall

2516 Views Hoima, Uganda

In short
A report by local NGO Global Rights Alert, from a study done in the refinery-affected area in November 2013, shows that only about 10 percent of the women in the area have legal claim to land.

Darlson Turyagumanawe and her husband bought 4 acres of land in Nyahiira, Kabaale Sub-county, Hoima, about six years ago. In 2011, the family was informed that their land was part of the 29-square kilometres that had been acquired by government, for construction of the oil refinery.
 
The land was therefore valued, and the family chose to be paid so that they can relocate on their own. Payment is yet to come. But Turyagumanawe doesn’t even know how much it is, or how it will be put to use, because she is not a signatory on either the land documents or the bank account through which compensation will be paid.
 
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A report by local NGO Global Rights Alert, from a study done in the refinery-affected area in November 2013, shows that only about 10 percent of the women in the area have legal claim to land. 
 
Winfred Ngabiirwe, the Global Rights Alert Executive Director, says that though the Refinery Action Plan by the Ugandan government lays down guidelines for equal treatment of men and women in the compensation and resettlement process, it is very different in practice.
 
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At the launch of the report findings at Kyapaloni Primary School on Thursday, the larger part of the community gathering were women. Given the chance to respond to the findings, several of them said that their husbands had received compensation for family land, and relocated to Hoima town, leaving their families behind.
 
Hon. Joy Catherine Byenkya, the Minister for Gender in Bunyoro Kingdom, says that she has received over 80 cases of women who have suddenly become destitute, as husbands opt for new wives, drinking and luxury, instead of replacing the family land that they gave up for the oil refinery.
 
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According to Blasio Mugasa, the Deputy Prime-minister and Minister for Lands in the Kingdom, the institution is trying to involve clans and other leaders in the kingdom to find solutions to these family disputes. He also thinks that the Uganda government’s Refinery Action Plan should have foreseen some of these issues.
 
Both Uganda’s Constitution and the Land Act allow for equality in decision-making on family land ownership, and also give women the right to own land.