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Key training on East Africa oil pipeline chances issued

Thursday July 22 2021
Pipeline pic
By George Sembony

Tanga. As the date for the actual construction of the 1,443 kilometre crude oil pipeline draws closer, a Tanga-based Northern Zone Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Coalition has been training animators in villages along the pipeline route.

The second and last batch of training involved 16 villagers selected from Mabanda, in Handeni Town Council, Tanganyika Village in Muheza District ended in Tanga, at the weekend.

Some 40 animators from five districts have so far been trained under a project: ‘Accountability through Active Citizenship’, being implemented by the coalition, Northern Coalition for Extractives and Environment (NCEE) with financial support from Oxfam Tanzania.

Project coordinator Devota Mbenna said the first batch of the training involved selected animators from Singida, Nzega and Misenyi.

The five districts, Misenyi, Nzega, Singida Rural, Handeni Town Council and Muheza, are some of the eight districts where the $3.5 billion project would pass.

Ms Mbenna said the training was based on results of an independent community–based human rights impact assessment on social, economic, environmental, cultural and human rights in the local communities along the pipeline. “The aim was to understand the potential impacts of the project and determine the gap between the human rights in principle and the actual satisfaction of the rights in practice by the local communities in the ongoing project,” Ms Mbenna said.

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The assessment findings indicated numeral risks and challenges highlighting actions to be taken by different actors including the government at national and local government authorities’ level as well as companies and CSOs.

This, Ms Mbenna said would eventually lead to the best appreciation by the local communities of the project that increases Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Uganda and Tanzania by 60 per cent during the construction period. NCEE chairman Josiah Severre pointed out that local communities indicated high expectations on the project including employments in different fields and infrastructure development.

Mr Severre said that animators have a duty to reduce these high expectations but also to discover, initiate encourage their development. “There are numeral opportunities that could be explored by the local communities to optimize their engagement and improve livelihood,” he said.

One of the challenges encountered in the assessment is lack of transparency by the government and investors to the local communities on available opportunities that the local citizens can win but also preparedness, Mr Severre revealed.

According to training facilitator Kefar Mbogelo, capacity building in the local communities is essential in order to maximize transparency and accountability by decision-makers.

Mr Mbogelo, who is the coordinator of Programmes in the Oxfam added that this would influence local communities involvement in the project and enjoy benefits and opportunities directly or indirectly.

The Handeni Town Council Community Development officer Fred Mpondachuma emphasized the critical role that could be played by animators in communities asking them to become change agents.

Mr Mpondachuma further called for a serious assessment of how districts have prepared themselves for the opportunities and challenges to be brought by the pipeline project.

He mentioned such areas as a possible impact on health facilities and services due to an increase in the population and also impact at the social and economic levels including increased disease incidences and pregnancies among young girls.

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