Discovery of Oil: Community perceptions and expectations in Uganda’s Albertine Region
Tumusiime, David Mwesigye
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This study was conducted to interrogate local perceptions and expectations from the discovery of oil in the Albertine Graben of Uganda. We interviewed 50 residents (30 men and 20 women) from Butiaba and Wanseko (Buliisa district), Kyehoro and Kabaale villages (Hoima district). The villages were purposively selected to have a representation of the districts in the Albertine region where Oil discovery activities are currently being implemented but also to explore any differences in perceptions that may be linked to livelihood options of the respondents. We applied narrative analysis. Overall, we observed minimal pessimism as residents expressed concerns over environmental degradation, political tensions and land conflicts following oil activities, but there was a dominance of optimism as communities envisaged that the oil industry will create employment, infrastructural development, improved access to electricity, and enhanced social status. The findings demonstrated that communities living in areas where extractive resources such as oil and gas have been discovered tend to be more optimistic with very minimal pessimism in their expectations during the phase of upstream activities of the oil value chain. The findings challenge the dominant narrative that residents where energy development and other land use changes are being implemented tend to have negative expectations -a phenomenon known as NIMBY (Not-In- My-Back-Yard). We identify the need to develop strong institutional frameworks that harness benefits from oil to improve local livelihoods without compromising the environment and enhancing participation of locals in decision making processes.