What has amazed many of us in Uganda is the total lack of thought given to the needs of locals. Is the project a threat or an opportunity to induce the sustainable development of a region with great potential?
Perhaps more importantly, among the dissenting voices, is the lack of mention of an uncomfortable reality: Through deforestation and poor fuel management, poverty is, in fact, far more environmentally destructive than any energy project. The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project actually represents an opportunity to help alleviate such wanton destruction of the environment in the region.
Are these factors taken into consideration by the well-meaning, but often ill-informed, members of the Western public? Rather than an environmental calamity, the proposed oil projects should be seen as a lifeline for Uganda to escape the cycle of poverty and embrace a cleaner, more sustainable future.
The wider picture
It was expected that the EACOP project would not please everyone. Indeed, an oil project has a direct environmental impact that can’t be denied, whatever the efforts made by the operators to mitigate them. However, the vicious and condescending tone dominating much of the media coverage regarding the EACOP extraction shows this is no usual protest, but part of a Western attitude that still sees Africa through a patronising lens, a primitive ‘Eden’ to be kept untouched.
Antiquated farming methods, lack of efficient energy sources, land scarcity and the absence of alternatives to subsistence agriculture are by far the biggest sources of environmental destruction in the region.
The truth is, more than 90% of Uganda’s population currently bases its livelihood on agriculture, fishing or forestry. Antiquated farming methods, lack of efficient…