LSM-Uganda chapter and youth activists from Fridays For Future Uganda protest outside a total Energies Petrol station in Jinja-Uganda
During the just-concluded 2022 Laudato Si’ Week celebrations, Laudato Si’ Movement’s Uganda Chapter held a week-long celebration directing their efforts towards stopping the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline. They also celebrated the efforts of the conservation movement in the region and advocated for community and institutional commitment towards preserving the environment.
At the Philosophy Center Jinja (PCJ), the LSM Chapter-Uganda graced the opening mass for the 2022 Laudato Si’ Week Global celebration, presided over by Fr. Berry Apire. Fr. Berry stressed the importance of the presence of God’s spirit as our enabler to understand our role in taking care of God’s gift to us, our common home.
“You need to understand yourself spiritually to be able to understand the need and importance of what God has gifted us with. It cuts across all religions: Muslims, Buddhists and everyone.”
Fr. Berry reiterated the need for governments in Africa to play their role in ensuring equitable resource distribution to each and every member of society, ensuring that each person’s basic needs are met. He also noted that poverty in Africa has been a major hindrance to the promotion of the dignity of creation as well as on our role as stewards of our common home.
Heeding Pope Francis’ call in Laudato Si’, which states, “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation” (LS 14), the LSM-Uganda chapter organized a two-day workshop with artists and creatives drawn from different genres of art including writers, fine artists,singers, cartoonists and dancers to find creative ways of communicating with the local communities on the need to embrace renewable energy and move away from the destructive oil industry. A slogan coined #EACOPKATWA, translating loosely to “EACOP is Poison”, was crafted to help popularize the local campaign against the proposed East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
The climax of these activities included a morning radio talk show at 89 Smart FM Uganda hosted by Laudato Si Movement’s Uganda Chapter leader John Hillary Balyejusa as part of the 2022 “African Day” celebrations. The topic of discussion centered on Africa’s development, leadership and the type of energy that Uganda and other Africans need to develop in this century. Panelists included Fr. Berry Apire (Holy Cross Fathers), Sr. Christine (Medical Mission Sisters), and Prince Papa (Laudato Si Movement-Africa).
That afternoon, Fridays for Future Uganda joined Laudato Si’ Movement’s Uganda Chapter to peacefully protest outside a major Total Energies Petrol station in Uganda. The activists, dancing and chanting “#EACOPKATWA”, “ and #StopEACOP, called on the oil giant to stop its intentional plan to invest in the oil industry in Uganda and Tanzania through the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
After the peaceful protest, John Hillary Balyejusa commented, “Africa has the biggest potential and opportunity to be the world’s leader in renewable energy use. We’ve got living examples and testimonies of what oil investment has done to African communities with better examples coming from Nigeria’s Niger delta. Uganda communities are not ready to go down that line.”
The proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) is a 1445-km long electrically heated export oil pipeline that will traverse Uganda from Hoima to Tanzania’s port of Tanga and generate over 34 million metric tons of carbon emissions each year. The project has been surrounded by documented human, wildlife and climate rights violations.
Laudato Si’ Movement has been mobilizing the Catholic church, working with the people of all faiths and green civil society organizations to stand up and ensure that this destructive project is stopped. Just days after Laudato Si’ Week’s series of activities in Uganda, the media reported on the Ugandan governments’ plea to the church leaders to support the EACOP project. In another media update, the Ugandan Episcopal Conference is to release their statement on this project, in a much-awaited voice in Uganda’s climate space.
So far, several leading insurance/reinsurance companies, export credit agencies and banks have distanced themselves from the project, considering it a climate risk.
Story by Prince Papa, Africa Programs Manager, Laudato Si’ Movement
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