Launch of the Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) Report for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline

Uganda and Tanzania recently signed an agreement for the planned construction of a $3.5bn, 1,445km pipeline to transport crude oil reserves developed by Uganda. The East African Crude Oil Pipeline' (EACOP) is one of the largest infrastructure projects in East Africa and the longest heated oil pipeline globally. It will transport crude oil from Kabaale, Hoima, in Uganda to Chongoleani in Tanga in Tanzania for export to the international market. No start date for construction has been announced by the government yet, but build time has been estimated at two and a half years.

GRA partnered with Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED), the Northern Coalition for Extractives and Environment (NCEE), and Oxfam International- and undertook a community-based human rights impact assessment highlighting the East African Crude Oil pipeline's human rights risks for communities located along the proposed route for the EACOP.

Oil and gas exploration and extraction require a change in land use and entail oil and gas companies acquiring land for developing infrastructure projects such as the EACOP. In such processes, Rights abuse can occur when parties involved inappropriately negotiate land acquisition or where compensation is inadequate. In some cases, compensation is unable to mitigate the impact of development. For example, where the rights to occupy and use land are traditional, the land is vested with cultural or spiritual value. Its expropriation affects the right to cultural life. Changes in access to farmland, pasture, or forest resources and families' displacement can also lead to human rights violations.

In recent weeks we have published and launched an in-depth report on the human rights impact of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) on September 10, 2020. GRA is proud to have contributed to the groundbreaking inquiry into the human rights impact on the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP)

The Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) calls for protecting the over 12,000 families and vital ecosystems and wildlife affected by the proposed route for the EACOP. One of the report's main points is that even where substantive protections and safeguards like a public commitment to abide by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards in developing EACOP exist, a lack of compliance or enforcement are likely to undermine accountability. The central question remains, what do such commitments mean in practical terms, and how do they contribute to positive changes in people's lives and livelihoods? “Communities worry about what these commitments mean in practice- will they remain empty promises, leaving them with little to show for their land and crops, and nothing to support their future?”

The HRIA shines a light on some of the critical challenges women face and the gender impacts we are already seeing and proposes early steps that the government can take to mitigate negative consequences for women and communities. Many of these policies and interventions would affect both women and men, but stakeholders need to dedicate specific attention to reducing rather than exacerbating existing gender inequalities.

The report explores gender dynamics and how gender intersects with other inequalities to help make sense of the current picture to better plan and prepare for the likely gendered impacts of the EACOP and ensure that the government and companies embed gender concerns in every aspect of the project. The report shows how important and timely the GRA team's work is!