Rural Initiative for Community Empowerment – West Nile (RICE-WN) has partnered with Advocates for Natural Resources Governance and Development (ANARDE) to provide free legal service to the communities of Nwoya District.
This free legal service (probono) was offered on 23rd January 2015 at Latoro Trading Centre and Purongo Sub county headquarters with the goal of extending probono legal support to the communities in the Albertine Graben. This attracted over 40 community members to receive the services and advice.
According to the Executive Director RICE-WN, Mr. Pax Sakari, Latoro and Purongo were chosen based on the previous cases of land wrangles among the communities. Meanwhile, the ANARDE Program Officer – Oil and Gas said their interest is to help communities affected by issues mainly connected to oil and gas as priority although they will consider other cases which are not directly linked to oil and gas.
A team of three lawyers from ANARDE interfaced with the community members to provide free legal advice on issues mainly concerning land rights, acquisition and registration procedures as well as how to settle land disputes.
Complaints from the individuals were registered by the lawyers during one-on-one sessions with the lawyers pending legal opinion within 2 weeks after submission of all the required supporting documents.
Among the issues, the residents of Nwoya expressed worry as some investors and well-to-do individuals buy large pieces of land to strategize for the oil and gas industry awaiting further oil exploration in the area. The communities also decried invasion of their properties by Wild animals. The Community Development Officer (CDO), Purongo Sub-county, noted that over 90% of the residents in one unidentified village have been displaced by the wild animals. “Out of over 500 households, there are about 5 households who are still staying there”, he remarked. The Communities appealed to the lawyers to guide them on the issues of destruction of their property by wild animals.
Advocates for Natural Resources Governance and Development (ANARDE) is a non-governmental organisation registered under the laws of Uganda. It’s a nonprofit group of researchers, activists, organizers, and lawyers with expertise in human rights, environmental governance, corporate and government accountability.
Report by Peter Andresile (Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, RICE-WN)