KAMPALA – The Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), an environmental organisation from Uganda, is among the recipients of the 2022 Right Livelihood Award for their tireless efforts to protect the rights of local communities from environmentally damaging projects linked to the exploitation of oil and gas.
Speaking to the press at Hotel Africana on Thursday, Dickens Kamugisha, AFIEGO’s Chief Executive Officer attributed their achievement to the work they do to help and protect the communities especially those who have been affected by oil projects.
“I believe those are reason why the right livelihoods award was given to us to encourage to continue defending and promoting human rights in Uganda.”
He says that oil communities in Uganda have of recently lived a miserable life having been displaced from their land.
“The biggest challenge is that government and companies like East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) go and put cut off dates. In 2019 you go and tell almost 3000 households we are going to take off this land, don’t add any more developments, especially long term. From 2019 and today is 2022 and people haven’t gotten their compensation.”
“In the process people get frustrated. That’s where we come in to help these people but also to put pressure on government and companies for these people to get paid,” he added.
Founded in 1980, the Right Livelihood Award honours and supports courageous people solving global problems.
To date, 190 Laureates from 74 countries have received the Award, including Edward Snowden (United States of America), Dr Denis Mukwege (Democratic Republic of Congo)
and Greta Thunberg (Sweden).
Using advocacy, media campaigns, and legal action, AFIEGO has stood with communities to oppose extractive projects seeking to exploit Uganda’s oil reserves discovered in 2006.
In particular, the organisation has been at the forefront of efforts to stop the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which would transport Uganda’s crude oil to a port in Tanzania. The planned 1,400-kilometre pipeline would cut through 178 Ugandan and 231Tanzanian villages, causing mass displacement, environmental harm and further exacerbating the climate crisis.
AFIEGO’s work of standing up against powerful interests has drawn severe backlash from the Ugandan government, resulting in threats and harassment against its staff.
Right Livelihood’s jury said that AFIEGO was receiving the award “for their courageous work for climate justice and community rights violated by extractivist energy projects in Uganda.”
“For the work that we do here in Uganda, you need to be encouraged, you need to be motivated. We face a very hostile environment, including arrests. When the government knows that there are people around the world who appreciate our work, they think twice about attacking us or our communities. So this Award means that we can help many more communities,” Kamugisha said.
“In the face of the global climate crisis, AFIEGO stands with communities against oil and gas exploitation projects,” said Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director at Right Livelihood.
“Resisting government and corporate threats, the organisation ensures that communities affected by colonialist extractive energy projects can raise their voices on national and international levels. With their bottom-up work at the intersection of societal, economic and environmental concerns, AFIEGO models a democratic and renewable energy path for African countries.”