‘Our land is our bank’ – how community resettlement affects women

HazeoverHoimafloescherGlobal Rights Alert, a PWYP member in Uganda, has published a report examining the gender issues in Uganda’s resettlement action plan, for communities who have to make way for extractive projects.

“Our land is our bank. That is where we get money for fees, money for medical expenses and money to buy the necessities in the home.” Grace, from the Kabaale community in Hoima.

After a search that lasted almost 100 years, Uganda discovered commercially viable deposits of oil in 2006. This discovery brought with it the promise of prosperity and growth – but what of the communities who have to make way for oil extraction?

PWYP Uganda member Global Rights Alert examined the recent resettlement and compensation process which was carried out in Hoima, where the government is building an oil refinery. In particular, GRA looked at the gender dimension of the resettlement process. Their report, Our land is our bank, illustrates how men and women are affected differently by community resettlement and compensation. GRA found that while the government’s Resettlement Action Plan for Hoima was gender-sensitive and designed to deal with these differences, its implementation failed to reflect the rhetoric.

Resettlement and compensation is, naturally, a difficult time for the whole community. However, because of existing gender roles and practices around land tenure, it is women who are most vulnerable to the changes.

For example, while women in Uganda use and depend on land, that land is rarely legally in their name. When that land is exchanged for compensation, it therefore becomes very difficult for women to receive what they are owed. Women find it harder to adjust and find new working opportunities, due to low levels of training and education – as well as their restricted mobility and lack of exposure.

In Hoima, one of the issues women particularly highlighted was a lack of access to information. They felt that they had not been given adequate information about the process and that their voices hadn’t been heard. GRA collected testimonies from women in Hoima, many of whom feared they would not get a fair deal for their land.

The report is well-worth a read and illustrates some of the gender-based issues thrown up by the extractive process. It is crucial to investigate and communicate the different ways in which women are affected by the extractive sector in order to mitigate these impacts. As Alice, one of the residents from Hoima stated, “If I knew where President Museveni stays, I would walk to his home to explain my problem and the problems of other women”.

The image, ‘Haze over Hoima’, was taken by flöscher and available on Flickr. 

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