NATURAL RESOURCES GOVERNANCE
Threats to natural resources sector continue to exist affecting their productivity and sustainability. Many areas that have been gazetted as protected areas continue to be encroached for human activity, either due to poor enforcement of bye laws, or due to poor community attitude towards conservation. Whereas the various acts and national policies spell out the need for community involvement in management of Uganda’s natural resources, i.e. wetlands, wildlife, forestry and others, there is limited progress in practice. The practice is constrained by lack of capacity by the lead agencies (NFA, UWA and WMD) to implement collaborative management initiatives and in wetlands, the challenge is further compounded by understaffing in the local governments with recruitment priorities put on other sectors rather than the ENR.
The ENR sector has also experienced a decline in budgetary allocation from 2.6% in 2008/2009 to about 1.9% of the national budget, which has resulted into limited implementation of community initiatives since the available funding can only be is used for operation and administrative costs. In the face of the current constraints in the sector, we are challenged to innovatively develop mechanisms that will enhance the participation of communities in natural resource governance.
The extractive sector, especially in Karamoja also continues to be faced with challenges, in particular; lack of knowledge of the status of mining, extent of concessions, nature or volume of mineral deposits in the region at all levels; low community knowledge on mineral rights, land rights, legal issues, environmental issues and advocacy engagements; lack of community involvement and consultation over land acquisition for exploration; lack of evidence of land ownership at community level which, affects claim and negotiations compensation; and finally unsustainable mineral exploration activities that undermine environmental integrity. Ultimately, responsiveness to these critical issues will partly determine whether Karamoja’s mineral endowments can be used as a platform for stability, wealth creation and development while inaction poses the risk of further undermining environmental integrity, human wellbeing, tenuous peace and security and the invaluable cultural assets that are unique to the region.
Based on this, we commit to focus our work on governance of the attractive sector in Karamoja in particular, and natural resource governance in general, supporting the formation of representative groups, community structures and/or strengthening institutions that champion the needs and rights of poor and marginalized people, who live and depend on the natural resources for their livelihood.
At local level, we will work in partnership with government agencies, CSOs and local mining groups/conservation groups, and CBOs to disseminate information and work out mechanisms of promoting social accountability through building the civic competencies of resource users to confidently engage with duty bearers, and exploration companies, while at the same time strengthening capacity of the district natural resource departments to effectively respond to community demands.
All avenues will be explored to promote the participation and inclusion of women and youth, as key resource users, in initiatives spelled out under this strategic objective. At national level, we will identify and create strategic partnerships and form alliances that have got an agenda of attractive sector management and governance and conduct strategic dialogues with decision makers using evidence and testimonies from the community, particularly people affected by resource exploration activities.