How infrastructure projects impact the host communities

Tuesday September 5 2017


By By John Namkwahe @johnteck3

 The construction of oil and gas infrastructure, dams, pipelines, processing plants in other countries in Africa and across the world has shown that the process is not without negative impacts to host communities.

The situation is worse in poorly planned projects, which are often characterised by underestimation of social impacts.

The major infrastructure projects especially those that are land-based, require land access, hence land acquisition may lead to either economic or physical displacement or both.

For rural and agrarian communities, impacts arising from these forms of displacements could be adverse and often lead to conflicts.

Despite the fact that the government of Tanzania recognises that these major infrastructure projects may have adverse effects on host communities and environment, in terms of health and safety of people, yet there are social-economic challenges facing host communities caused by the land-based infrastructure projects that have not been fully addressed.

According to a report availed by Oxfam Tanzania titled “Balancing Infrastructure and Community Livelihoods” the report is the outcome of the research which was conducted in Southern Tanzania in February 2016 aimed to analyse the construction of the new gas pipeline from Mtwara-Dar es Salaam and its impacts on land rights of those who live around the area.

Since the construction of the new pipeline involved land acquisition, the report focuses on how the process affected people’s livelihoods and the extent of their recovery.

As the result of the pipeline construction, various social and economic issues were identified, which in one way or another affected the host communities living around the pipeline.

President John Magufuli of Tanzania and his counterpart President Yoweri Museveni graced the ceremony held at Chongoleani village in Tanga Region, making the commencement of the development of the pipeline.

The $3.5 billion pipeline is scheduled for completion by the year 2020, according to pipeline companies.

The pipeline covers over 1,400km sets to transport crude oil from Hoima-Uganda to the port of Tanga in Tanzania for export to international markets, prompting joy and high positive expectations between the two countries and the entire region.

This landmark pipeline project is a key step in the realisation of both governments’ intent to fully exploit available oil and gas for the benefit of all citizens.

It comes as no surprise then that there are great expectations for jobs and other benefits for the local industries in both countries.

Beyond that, there is hope and excitement that once the pipeline is complete, windfall revenues from oil exports and transit will benefit both countries for years to come.

Amongst others, the project will offer some 10, 000 temporary job opportunities during the construction phase and some 1, 000 direct job opportunities when it is fully completed to Tanzanians and Ugandans.

When the project is fully completed, the two governments and EAC member states will be able to purchase petrol, diesel, kerosene and aviation at lower prices for productivity related activities.

Mr Raymond Njogoro, 26, a Chongoleani resident expressed his concerns that adequate knowledge was required to educate the majority of host communities living around where the oil pipeline passes, saying they lacked knowledge about the project.

“I think the negative impacts caused by the infrastructure project are still unknown to majority of the villagers. Therefore, there is a need for the governments and pipeline companies to organise village meetings in order to educate people about the benefits and negatives effects of the projects,” he said.

He stated “The oil pipeline passes through many villages, thus the question to the government and relevant pipeline companies is that, have they already provided adequate education to all the villagers living alongside the pipeline construction areas? Regarding the fact that the project will bring negative impacts on the host communities and environment,” he said.

For her part, Ms Hamisa Abdul, 46, a Chongoleani resident called for relevant authorities to help the host communities to address the lack of available social services and infrastructure. According to her, some areas where the project will be conducted were facing an acute shortage of water.

She added: “Water access should be a priority for the community here because of long standing issues of availability and access of the precious liquid,” she said.

She also expressed her fear that the lack of the title deeds would deny majority of the villagers to get compensation.

“Title deeds are one of the key requirements when it comes to compensation. My worry is, a lot of villagers will not be compensated because they don’t have the documents,” she said.

The report is inspired by Oxfam’s desire and commitment to have a better understanding of such impacts or effects so as to alert the government of Tanzania and Uganda and the pipeline companies to put in place better ways for redress, prevention and addressing the impacts ahead of the construction of Hoima-Tanga Crude Oil Pipeline.

According to key findings of the report, the perceptions of the impact of the gas pipeline construction on land rights are, to a large extent negative, in spite of the enormous potential presented by the project, to mention a few;-

Community consultation

The study indicates that the respondents interviewed were dissatisfied with the general approach which fell short of providing room for free, prior and informed consent in land acquisition.

Although it was indicated that the consultation process involved the use of village meetings, the meetings were characterized by low turnout especially for women, making meaningful and inclusive consultation difficult.

Standards for payment of compensation

According to the study, Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) stated use of domestic standards in the circulation and payment of compensation.

However, the study shows that the standards provided by the Land Policy and Land Act were not applied consistently across the project area, this comes after the host communities complained that the compensation was meagre.

Delay in compensating

Despite the fact that TPDC compensated those affected by the project before relocation as it is required by the law, however, the affected individuals were dissatisfied with the delay in making payments, according to the study.

Land acquisition involved relocation of important cultural and spiritual sites such as graves. The study reveals that those affected complained about unfair compensation such as Sh100, 000 per grave, hence the compensation did not cover the cost of traditional and religious reburying services.

Due to these impacts on land rights on host communities, the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the country and that from Uganda have expressed their concerns and call upon governments and pipeline companies to put in place better ways to ensure such negative impacts do not happen again ahead of the Hoima-Tanga Crude Oil Pipeline construction.

Mr Jasiah Severre, the chairman of Northern Coalition (NC) for Oil and Gas Mr Josiah Severre expresses his optimism about the project, saying the governments of Uganda and Tanzania have an invaluable opportunity to work together to implement the project in the way that would benefit both sides.

“The time is now to ensure that the potential revenues from oil production and infrastructure investments benefit the nations at large without disenfranchising the communities that will live along the pipeline,” he says.

He states: “The extent to which the project results in tangible and sustainable benefits for Tanzanian and Ugandan citizens, particularly those living along the pipeline route, will depend on the willingness of the project proponents (both government and the private sector) to engage local women, men and youth before and throughout the construction process.”

He calls upon the governments and the pipeline companies to work closely with private sector, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and CSOs to ensure the project becomes successful and benefit the citizens of Tanzania and Uganda.

“I believe that by working together with our governments in raising community awareness and participation, fair, adequate and timely compensation, adherence to environmental standards, and protecting people’s land rights will promote transparency and accountability hence alleviating poverty and inequality,” he says.

Mr Severre also urged the governments and pipeline companies to ensure that project development is not exempted from compliance with the national legal and regulatory requirements and approval processes for such projects.

“The project should comply with all environmental legislation and protocols for land acquisition. Our governments should resist the temptation to fast track the project at great economic and social cost to citizens,” he says.

He states “There should be a deliberate effort to ensure that women, men and youth along the pipeline route are consulted and able to input into decision making for the project, including the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments, Resettlement Action Plans, among other aspects,”

Adding “How local communities will be consulted should be detailed in a publicly disclosed plan that is developed with their full and inclusive participation,” he says.

He calls upon the governments to develop Resettlement Action Plans (RAPs) in a participatory and transparent manner for each country with due regard to the heterogeneity of each community along the pipeline route.

“RAPs should be developed with the full participation of women, as they are often excluded from decision-making processes. Final RAPs should be made public. Compensation – based on fair market value and at full cost of replacement – should be transparent and consistent, and should extend beyond monetary compensation,” he says.

Adding “Where involuntary displacement occurs, communities should be provided replacement land of comparable or better value, and assistance accessing the new land. This will go a long way in ensuring that communities are protected from land speculators,” he says.

Mr Severre reiterates that compensation alone is not enough, saying that RAPs should also include adequate provisions for the restoration and improvement of livelihoods that will be affected by the pipeline development.

Mr Kennedy Mugume, Global Rights Alert (GRA) title project officer from Uganda urges the governments to resist amendment of article 26 of the 1995 Ugandan constitution which seeks to do away with (the provision of adequate, timely and fair compensation).

“There is need for acknowledgement the importance of informed community consultation prior to land acquisition and the public disclosure of Resettlement Action Plans. Our governments have demonstrated the capability to swiftly effect legislative and policy reforms when need arises; and the need to protect community rights for this important project should inspire the need for such reform, “he says.

Adding “This will ensure that there is little contestation and conflict throughout the pipeline development process,” he says.

He also calls upon the governments to establish an accessible and accountable project-level grievance handling mechanism that enables affected communities to register grievances and receive redress.

“Grievances should be addressed timely and with engagement and dialogue with affected communities. The process for addressing grievances should be clear and consistent and provide for monitoring of agreed outcomes,” he says.

Mr Mugume says there is a need to have a regular and on-going monitoring of social and environmental impacts from the pipeline construction and operation.

“The process for monitoring impacts should include the participation of affected communities and, if needed, independent evaluators. The results of monitoring and evaluation should be made public and responsible parties should provide a comprehensive response to monitoring findings and amend any relevant project plans as necessary,” he says.

Adding “For example, an early warning system and comprehensive contingency plan should be in place to detect and respond to oil leakages and spills immediately. A regional strategic environmental assessment should be conducted to identify and address cumulative and indirect impacts and ensure protection of sensitive biodiversity areas,” he says.

Furthermore, Mr Mugume urges the governments to disclose all contracts between pipeline companies, governments and project financiers.

“While infrastructure projects have the potential to bring about positive economic knock-on effects, they also have the potential to leave the respective countries heavily indebted at a cost to future generations,” he says.

Mr Kapuulya Musomba, TPDC Acting Managing Director told The Citizen by telephone that TPDC will compensate those who affected by the infrastructure project before relocation as it is required by the law, saying the domestic standards will be applied in calculation and payment of compensation.

“All who deserve to be paid, will be paid and not otherwise. We have already started taking the records ahead the compensation process,” he said.

He added “We will also provide education to host communities so that they understand the actual concept of the project especially on how they will benefit from it,” he says.

The President Magufuli during the ceremony also warned the host communities living alongside the pipeline from not trying to establish new settlements so as to receive their compensation, saying the government has already taken records for those affected communities who deserve to be compensated.

“Government will not provide compensation to those people who will establish new settlements alongside the pipeline, because I know some people will try to establish new settlements in order to be compensated especially at this time when the government is preparing to issue the compensation,” he said