“I am very happy to have been relocated here at Kyakaboga Resettlement Village. Before coming here I used to live at Nyakasinini village but life was not as good as it is now. I and many of my fellow PAPs here were staying in the bush and in grass thatched huts but now we have good permanent houses which were built for us by government. Life has indeed changed for the better; we therefore thank God and the government of Uganda for this great transformation in our lives,” says Julius Ochok Dhogu, a resident of Kyakaboga Resettlement village in Hoima district.
A genuinely happy man, Dhogu is among the thousands of Project Affected Persons (PAPs) for Uganda’s multibillion Oil Refinery Project at Kabaale in Buseruka Sub county, Hoima district. Together with several others, these PAPs gave up their previous land for which they were adequately compensated before being resettled in new areas by local consultancy giants, Strategic Friends International (SFI) under the proprietorship of its CEO and Lead Consultant, Dr. Kosea Wambaka (Phd, Phd). Consequently, government was able to acquire 29.7 square Kilometers of land which previously hosted villages including Kabaale, Kitegwa, Bukona, Nyahaira, Kayeera, Nyamasoga and Kyapaloni; all in Buseruka Sub County, Hoima district.
This land was critically needed for the construction of the nucleus infrastructure that will drive the commercialization of Uganda’s oil resource.
According to Dr. Wambaka, this infrastructure includes Uganda’s Oil Refinery and Kabale Industrial Park which are yet to be built as well as Kabalega International Airport which is already established and slated for full completion by October this year.
In his narration, Ochok Dhogu revealed that they now live like modern citizens because the houses in which they were resettled are not only decent and permanent but also fully lit with reliable electricity.
“This essentially means that our resettlement to this place not only benefitted us but also helped the entire host community to get power which they never expected to get soon. That’s why they eventually accepted us although there had been some skepticism within some few of them at the beginning. I therefore greatly thank SFI and Dr. Kosea Wambaka who designed a very humanistic Resettlement Action Plan for our relocation,” he says.
Dhogu adds that to ensure a decent livelihood for every PAP, SFI made it a point to provide acres of farmland to every person who was resettled. The PAPs thus use this land to grow produce which they sell to provide food and other basic and social needs to their families.
“Personally, I got about 10 acres of farmland which I’m now using to get food and also do projects from which I get money to educate my children. I have 8 children and the first born is already in secondary school while we have our fellow members who have managed to educate their children up to university and they have graduated,” Dhogu reveals.
Humanity Was Key— Dr. Wambaka
Affirming Dhogu’s revelations, Dr. Wambaka who was the lead consultant for the Resettlement Action Plan says they managed to pull off a successful resettlement by sticking to international best practices and also pursuing excellence and perfection which have become SFI core values.
“This wasn’t rocket science but rather a deliberate effort to stick to international best practices governing resettlement of persons as well as the values of Strategic Friends International of putting value for money and advancement of humanity before everything else. We therefore simply ensured that there was utmost honesty in the compensation packages we gave each PAP and also emphasizing full consent and empathy in dealing with each individual PAP,” Wambaka says. Wambaka explains that because the PAPs harmoniously and productively lived in their previous settlements, it was logical to make their lives better once they were to be resettled.
“These people were largely farmers who earned income through agriculture, so it was necessary to get them enough land and homes to enable them become even better farmers in line with the government’s socioeconomic development agenda of eliminating subsistence production. Our aim was to compensate them with enough land to enable them to also engage in the government’s numerous poverty-alleviation projects like the 4-acre model, Emyooga and PDM among others,” he says.
In this same spirit, SFI in collaboration with government through the ministry of energy provided startup livestock including cows and goats to the PAPs, on top of skilling others in cottage and vocational sectors such as brickmaking (7 youths),welding (21 people), tailoring (19), computer networking and maintenance (13), carpentry (6), catering (3) and salon/hairdressing (10), among others.
Dr. Wambaka revealed that 73 families were relocated to Kyakaboga Resettlement Village and out of these 46 families were resettled into permanent houses because they had houses (mostly huts) on their land. The rest of the PAPs were given empty plots of land for construction of houses of their own choice. However, all the PAPs got a share of the 480 acres of land out of the total acreage of 534 acres which SFI acquired as resettlement land.
Dr. Wambaka is proud to reveal that owing to these humanistic values, they achieved 100% resettlement success without a single person being forcefully evicted while they also got very minimal court cases which have since all been resolved.
“We achieved 100% acceptance level for compensation and resettlement because we extensively engaged and sensitized the PAP communities. In fact, total compensation totaled to about shs96bn but out of this only about Shs5m people due to 18 PAPs remains unclaimed and we have it should they come for it. We are therefore proud that above all, government got land and is going on with the intended projects while the people are peacefully resettled and going on with their lives,” Wambaka says.
Social Amenities Improved
But apart from improving the individual lives of people, SFI’s Resettlement Action plan also greatly improved the community and social amenities for the PAPs — and consequently the host communities. Key among these include schools at Kyapaloni, Nyamasoga, Kabaale, health centres at Buseruka, churches, sanitation facilities and water sources among others.
A classic example of this tremendous change is St. Francis Nyakasinini Catholic Church in Munteme Parish to which the resettlement came with a ten-fold blessing.
According to Alfred Ogwal, the assistant catchiest and caretaker of the church, the church was initially located at Nyahaira village albeit as a typical village church in its very formative stage.
“It was a grass thatched structure which used to accommodate 30 to 40 congregants every Sunday without any other support facilities. Things were very bad that each time it rained we would literally disperse. One time the church got burnt and we prayed under a tree for almost one year. Our dream was always to build a better church but with the poor economic condition of the congregants there was no way we would raise enough money to achieve that target; it would possibly have taken us 20 to 30 years of collections and savings to build a permanent structure,” Ogwal say.
Unbeknown to Ogwal and his fellow Christians, God quickly delivered their miracle through strategic friends international, who in their RAP recommended for the relocation of this small community church but with specific plans to make it a modern structure with supporting amenities such as a priest’s house, water tanks, modern toilets and land for expansion.
Today this towering structure stands at Nyakasinini after the PAPs chose not to build it at Kyakaboga where it had initially been planned to be constructed.
“When SFI compensated us, Christians decided to put it here at Nyakasinini instead of Kyakaboga because the Church was being used by many villages neighbouring Nyahaira. Taking it to Kyakaboga therefore would be tearing apart the community which used to pray together,” Ogwal reveals.
Drawing comparison with the past, Ogwal can’t thank SFI, and government enough for transforming the body of Christ through the Oil refinery compensation project.
Today the Christians are richer after having invested the money they received from compensation. We now collect much more offertory both in terms of quantity and volumes. For instance, now we usually have 300 congregants every Sunday and we are even thinking of introducing a second mass to cater for the growing numbers. We have enough water collected in 3 tanks of 15000 liter capacity, 10-stance toilet facilities, and a public address system and pews which were donated by the Ministry of Energy. Life is indeed much better,” Ogwal says, satisfactorily.
Education Standards Improved
Also thanks to the SFI RAP, there has been a great improvement in the area of education throughout Buseruka Sub County which hosts the refinery project.
This is because schools which were in bad shape before the RAP are now fully equipped with modern facilities, with their capacity also greatly enhanced by timely government intervention.
A case in point is Kyapaloni Primary School which is now at Katooke village in Kabaale parish, Buseruka Sub-county, Hoima district.
Ronald Balikenda, the Deputy Headmaster narrates that initially, the school was located at Kyapaloni Village along the Kabaale-Kaiso road. However, it was a small school with one classroom block and a total enrollment of about 100 pupils. However, in its RAP, SFI recommended its upgrade to a bigger school with 6 classroom blocks and 2 for teachers. And as we speak today, this was implemented on top of water facilities including 6 tanks with 5000-liter capacity each as well as 20-stance toilets.
“This was a great gift to not only the PAPs from Kyapaloni but also the host community at Katooke. We are really grateful to whoever thought of such transformation,”Balikenda says.
The deputy school boss revealed that before the school was relocated to Katooke, the place had a small private school which had no single qualified teacher and also had one semi-permanent structure founded by the local church.
“But once the school got established here, the government deployed well qualified teachers who helped to improve the academic standard of the school. Sooner than later, members of the host community also embraced the government school, actually leading to the closure of their struggling community school,” Balikenda adds.
He revealed that as of now, the school’s enrolment has increased seven-fold to 710 pupils and a staff of 12 qualified teachers and support staff.
“The reality is that nobody ever dreamt of having a government school in this area let alone having the capacity to hire qualified teachers but right now everything is in place including electricity,” he says.
With the school now established, government has intensified plans for capacity building programmes like computer training for the school’s teachers who will then be able to teach the pupils ICT skills in the future.