Information on employment and training opportunities, land registration, compensation and resettlement as well as information on sharing of oil revenues are some the information needs of communities in the oil and gas sector. This information, they believe will empower them to meaningfully participate in the oil and gas development related processes.
In addition to identifying their information needs, the communities also emphasized that information should be; accurate, easy to find, easy to understand and easy to share. They acknowledged government as their most credible source of information, however there is a need to streamline the flow of information between government and citizens.
The participants advised government, district officials and oil company representatives to make use of radios, public gatherings such as religious meetings, clan gatherings among others to share information with community members. Other approaches included community information centres, building feedback mechanisms through which communities can know what has been done about an issue raised in relation to sector among others. They pointed out that long spells of silence and lack of transparency in the processes gives room to the development and spread of inaccurate information, shading government in bad light. “Transparency is very important if communities are going to be able to access the information needed to ensure all parties benefit from the oil development in Uganda.” Resident of Buliisa.
These recommendations, some of which are captured in the study, were discussed at dissemination workshops convened by FES Uganda and facilitated by the researcher Peter Magelah on the 9th and 13th of September in Buliisa and Kasese respectively. The meetings brought together 200 community members from local government structures (technical and political leaders), security agencies, oil companies, faith based organizations, NGOs and media among others. Women, youth and Persons with Disabilities were also represented.
Note: Access to information is a key contributor to citizens’ meaningful participation in the development process. Access to information also guarantees equal access to opportunities needed to improve the lives of people especially those at the tail end of development.
The full study can be accessed here.