BBC have recently reported a project gearing up to acquire oil from reserves recently discovered in Uganda. This project will come at the expense local farmers. In a lot of ways, it screams cliché – like some 80’s fat cat and the underdog.
The worst of which being the profiteers undertaking surveying to establish “suitable” compensation, which the landholders contest have undercut them. Smiling, the profiteers invite the landholders to get an independent survey carried out which, of course, they cannot afford.
But, in reality, how much will be enough to compensate land lost? One of the locals put it this way:
“Land is not like bananas which you buy from the supermarket. It’s something very important in this world.”
Indeed, can any amount compensate the future potential farmers lost to this short term project? Not only this, how about the potential shifts to the hydrological cycle that very likely will occur with increasing climate change – assisted by the additional emissions resulting from this endeavour? The ongoing costs will surely, eventually amount to far more than any potential profits gained.
The next level of doublethink results from the notion of job growth… Now, who are going to get the jobs? The ex-farmers seem the most obvious recently unemployed in need of a job. It’s not really job growth, but really job conversion. The sad fact is that it’s conversion from indefinite resource creation (arguably very egalitarian to a short term (myopic – think climate change) resource extraction for unequal profit (favouring stake/share holders).
This is very much a cliché. There is nothing new or unique going on in Uganda. This is the same story happening elsewhere – even in the Kimberley in far north west Australia… Climate change is truly one of the smaller reasons why we need to get a grip of our fossil fuel addiction.