Today members of NAPE Uganda reached out from the front lines of resistance to fossil fuel extraction to express their solidarity with divestment campaigners in London. Here we share their powerful letter.
We, Uganda’s National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), write to you to express our solidarity and support for your action encouraging London to go fossil free on Global Divestment Day.
Global cities like London not only invest in fossil fuels, they provide them with a safe home, physically and financially, and undeserved legitimacy by association. These cities must be made to divest and clean up their act!
Here in Uganda we are working alongside communities suffering and resisting the direct consequences of fossil fuel extraction. In the Bunyoro region, western Uganda, 3.5 billion barrels worth of oil and gas have been discovered, prompting a race to extract them by companies including the UK’s Tullow Oil.
Not a single barrel of oil has yet been extracted but communities are already being forcibly displaced, prevented from growing their usual food crops and barred from visiting their sacred sites. Families in the area of a planned oil refinery are disintegrating. Some men are abandoning their families for younger women who in turn have abandoned their educations to look for sex work in the area, targeting oil workers. Domestic violence towards women over oil compensation is on the rise.
Many of these oil ‘developments’ are taking place around our precious Lake Albert. The lake provides livelihoods and water for drinking and cleaning for thousands of people and fishermen tell us that seismic testing done by the oil companies has already reduced their catch and their incomes.
This is what institutions are funding when they invest in fossil fuels: The extraction of fuel that is wrecking not only our shared climate, but also communities and local ecosystems like ours right around the world. It is time to stop this plunder.
Alongside the communities of Bunyoro we are building a coalition that is saying Yes to Life, No to Mining. Together we are putting huge pressure on our government to keep the oil in the soil where it belongs – and where it must stay if we are prevent climate chaos – and find life-sustaining alternatives.
The action you are taking today will help us in this fight. If fossil fuel companies like Tullow have no investment or moral standing, they can’t survive to do the damage they do. If we go fossil fuel free, Lake Albert, our lands, sacred sites, communities, food, the air we breathe and the climate we share can remain healthy.
We stand in solidarity with you. If you would like to do the same for us and for the love of the climate this Valentine’s Day, sign the pledge to say Yes to Life, No to Mining at www.yestolifenotomining.org.
Frank Muramuzi, Shillar Kyomugisha, Dennis Tabaro