Sight Magazine - Communities "left out" as oil pipeline project set to get underway in East Africa

East Africa Lake Albert fisherman

Nairobi, KenyaThomson Reuters Foundation

A multi-billion dollar oil pipeline planned for East Africa could spell disaster for local communities, charities said on Thursday, warning of lost land and livelihoods unless oil firms listen up and change tack.

French energy giant Total and its partner China National Offshore Oil Corporation plan to exploit oil reserves in Lake Albert in Uganda and construct a 1,443 kilometre pipeline to neighbouring Tanzania for export.

A fisherman and his children wind up a fishing net in the village of Ntoroko, on the shores of Lake Albert, on 24th October, 2007. To local fishermen, Lake Albert is a lifeline providing food and income, but the simmering dispute over control of its prospective oil fields is putting that at a risk, they say. PICTURE: Reuters/Tim Cocks/File photo.

Human rights groups say the oil firms involved in the $US3.5 billion East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline have failed to fully address concerns raised by many of the 12,000 families who are expected to lose land due to the project.

The families - most of whom farm and rear livestock for a living - say they fear unfair resettlement, low compensation and damage to their rich and diverse environment.

"Time and time again...we heard people talk about their land and their fears that they would not receive fair value for what they may lose," said Joy Akoli Atine of Global Rights Alert, co-author of a study into the project by six charities.  

"There was very limit....

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