Compensation in the Bujagali hydropower project

The information presented in this paper is based on observations in the project area and on interviews with affected people. All in all we conducted 20 semistructured interviews with about 60 persons in four of the eight affected villages (Kyabirwa, Namiizi, Kikubamutwe and Malindi) in the period from the 21th to the 26th of June 2001.

The objective of the study was to collect primary information on the public consultation, information and compensation process. The EIA does not provide all the relevant information with regards to these issues.

The main conclusions of the study is that there exists a great deal of uncertainty among the affected people due to inadequate and misleading information. The uncertainty is in particular related to the following issues: Crop compensation, compensation for lost access to fishing, compensation for land, and resettlement.

1. Crop compensation

The affected people emphasised three problematic aspects concerning compensation for crops. First, they did not receive all the relevant information concerning compensation conditions, second, some of the information was delayed or changed during the process, and third, they felt that they did not receive adequate compensation.

• During the valuation exercise in 1999/2000, the valuation team recorded all crops in the affected land. The villagers were told that all the crops were going to be compensated for. In April this year they were told that the 1-4 months old crops would not be compensated for. Many people complained about this, because it implied that the expected compensation amount was reduced significantly.

• Seedlings of vanilla and coffee are bought at the market at a price of approximately 700 USH per plant. Some of the people we talked to had more than hundreds of such seedlings, which were younger than four months at the time of valuation. Not compensating these perennial crops, was conceived as quite unfair. Before valuation they did not know that such crops would not be compensated for.

• Many of the affected people had been waiting for compensation for more than one year. Even though valuation took place during the summer of 2000, many had not yet received compensation. In the Malindi village we met a few people who recently had received their monetary crop compensation.

• During the valuation exercise people were told by the valuation team to stop cropping. We observed that much of the affected land was growing into bushes because it had been left by the farmers. Many of the people we met said they were experiencing financial problems due to this situation. Lack of food and money had, however, forced some people to start cultivating the affected land again. As far as we know losses related to the period of no cultivation between valuation and compensation will be compensated for in any way.

• Many people expressed frustration about how some of their crops were categorised differently in the valuation form and in the calculation of the compensation. Example: The valuation form had two categories for the young mango trees: “young & poor”, worth 10 000 USh according to the district rates, and “young”, worth 5 000 USh. The form showing the actual compensation payment, however, contained only the lowest rated category, “young”, covering both “young and poor” and “young” trees. There were similar examples for cocoa, vanilla and timber trees.

• The compensation rates were generally conceived as very low. Example: One farmer will receive 30 000 USH for a jack fruit tree. A mature tree can produce more than 20 fruits a year. At the market jack fruits are sold at a price of 2-5000 USH. This implies that a mature jack fruit tree is to compensated for by the price of between 5 and 15 jack fruits.

2. Compensation for lost access to fishing

There was generally much confusion among the affected people concerning access to the fish resources during the construction phase and later when the reservoir was filled. The importance of fish in the household economy of the affected people has not been surveyed.

• People were not sure if access to the river would be restricted during construction. There was also confusion concerning access to the reservoir, after construction. They knew that fishing is prohibited in part of the Owen Falls dam and some people thought that this also would be the case with the Bujagali dam. Even in the EIA it is difficult to find information about access to the river and the reservoir.

• The respondents generally had little knowledge on how the construction of the dam will affect the fisheries. Some were afraid that mud and organic matter would reduce fisheries after inundation. Some thought that changing water levels would disturb the fisheries.

• Fishermen organised in fishermen’s organisations will be supplied with new and improved fishing equipment. The provision of fishing equipment was conceived as pointless if fishing is going to be restricted and fisheries reduced the first period after inundation. Their own wish was to receive money and help to start new businesses.

• As far as we know fishermen who are not organised will not be compensated for possible losses in fisheries. The same is the case for households that depend on fish from the river for the daily nutrition.

• In the EIA we can not find any survey covering affected households dependency on fishing for self-consumption, despite directives from the World Bank on this issue (OD 4.30, §11). All the people we interviewed told us they eat fish at least twice a week. Many households eat fish more than twice, and some even seven days a week. The fish is usually caught by family members, or purchased cheaply from neighbours. Many of the households will suffer economic difficulties if the fisheries will be reduced as an effect of the project.

• Many people expressed their worries about what will happen with the local system of fishing rights. Today, different fishing sites by the river belong to different families. When the reservoir is filled these sites will disappear, and the system of local fishing rights will be broke up.

• The resettlement village is situated about four kilometres from the river. This means that the opportunity for daily fishing for self-consumption will be reduced. This aspect is also not taken into account as the World Bank directive suggest (OD 4.30 §13, §15)

3. Compensation for land

Many people said that they felt they were forced to choose monetary compensation, despite their wish for in kind compensation for land. People was also complaining about the compensation rates, claiming that they were too small for procurement of new land. When becoming aware of this fact, many people who originally choose monetary compensation changed their minds and asked for in kind compensation instead.

• The resettlement village, Naminya, is located on the Western side of the river. Most of the villagers we spoke to at the East bank did not want to move to Naminya because of language problems (on the west bank luganda is the main language, on the east bank they speak mainly lusoga). Hence, they choose monetary compensation instead of land and houses in Naminya. Most people on the East side said they rather prefer land than money, but felt that they were forced to choose monetary compensation because they were not sure if AES could find appropriate resettlement land for them (contrasting the WBs OD 4.30 §4).

• Also in the Malindi village on the West side people said that they felt they were forced to choose monetary compensation because they were told that it was not enough land in the resettlement village for everyone.

4. Resettlement

Generally people knew very little about the resettlement process. Very few people had actually visited the resettlement village, even though they had decided to move. People was worried about the situation of water and fuelwood, as well as the agricultural quality of the new land.

• Only one of the affected households we interviewed knew when they were going to move. Even though a time schedule for resettlement has been developed, the plan was not known to the affected villagers (contrasting the WBs OD 4.30, §8 and §21).

• People said that they originally were promised they would get tap water. This had changed later on because it was too expensive, and instead a borehole will be constructed. The water from the boreholes was said to be saline and untasty, and difficult to use for washing.

• There are few trees in the vicinity of Naminya and people wondered where fuelwood could be collected. The EIA does not encompass any discussion about the fuelwood situation. The fact that the nearest forest is a forest reserve (the Mabira forest reserve) is not mentioned.

• The vegetation around the new houses is sparse and people are not sure what they can cultivate there. The EIA states that the resettlement plot “will be of similar or better agricultural potential” than were the people reside today (Executive summary page 43). We have, however, not been able to find any scientific documentation, i.e. soil analyses, which confirms this statement.

• The availability of off-farm income opportunities in the resettlement village, including fishing, has not been surveyed. This is in contrast to the World Bank directives OD 4.30 §13.

• Except for a one-week voluntary business skills training course, the people who for different reasons could not move to Naminya, have not been offered any help to develop strategies for non-land based employment alternatives, as outlined in the WBs directives (OD 4.30 §4)

5. The process of compensation payments

Regarding the process of compensation payments several unsatisfactory conditions were expressed by the affected people.

• As already mentioned, the compensation process has been delayed. People told us that they have been waiting for compensation payment since the valuation took place last year. Taking into account the fact that people stopped cropping after valuation, this is especially serious.

• The few villagers who had received their compensation said they had to sign a compensation agreement including conditions for compensation payment. We were shown a copy of this form. It is written in English, even though many of the villagers do not understand English. The form they signed also stated in English that “this has been explained to me in a language that I understand…”.

• AES has employed a lawyer for the affected people to ensure peoples interests in the compensation process. Of all the people we talked to only those who had actually received their compensation had heard about this lawyer. These people were told that if they were unhappy with the compensation they could contact the lawyer. As most people were unhappy they asked her what to do and according to them she answered that the best thing they could do was to sign now, if not they might not get any compensation at all. She also said that they could fight for more compensation later on. In the compensation agreement they signed it is clearly stated that the compensation agreement “is not changeable”.

• People also complained about the fact that they have to travel to Jinja twice in order to get the compensation money cashed. This is a considerable expenditure as many of the people are very poor. If they get compensation of more than 250 000 USH they have to put up a bank account in order to receive the money. This takes more than one day and hence they have to go back another day.

FIVAS – Kjersti Finholt, Bjørn Ivar Fyksen

Citations from the World Bank´s operational directive on Involuntary Resettlement (OD 4.30)

§4
Experience indicates that cash compensation alone is normally inadequate. […] Preference should be given to land-based resettlement strategies for people dislocated from agricultural settings. If suitable land is unavailable, nonland-based strategies built around opportunities for employment or self-employment may be used.
§8
The involvement of involuntary resettlers and hosts in planning prior to the move is critical. Initial resistance to the idea of involuntary resettlement is to be expected. To obtain cooperation, participation, and feedback, the affected hosts and resettlers need to be systematically informed and consulted during preparation of the resettlement plan about their options and rights. They should also be able to choose from a number of acceptable resettlement alternatives. These steps can be taken directly or through formal and informal leaders and representatives. Experience has shown that local NGOs can often provide valuable assistance and ensure viable community participation. Moreover, institutionalized arrangements, such as regular meetings between project officials and communities, should be provided for resettlers and hosts to communicate their concerns about the resettlement program to project staff throughout planning and implementation. Particular attention must be given to ensure that vulnerable groups such as indigenous people, ethnic minorities, the landless, and women are represented adequately in such arrangements.

§11
Resettlement plans should be based on recent information about the scale and impact of resettlement on the displaced population. In addition to describing standard household characteristics, socioeconomic surveys should describe (a) the magnitude of displacement; (b) information on the full resource base of the affected population, including income derived from informal sector and nonfarm activities, and from common property; (c) the extent to which groups will experience total or partial loss of assets; (d) public infrastructure and social services that will be affected; (e) formal and informal institutions (such as community organizations, ritual groups, etc.) that can assist with designing and implementing the resettlement programs; and (f) attitudes on resettlement options. Socioeconomic surveys, recording the names of affected families, should be conducted as early as possible to prevent inflows of population ineligible for compensation.

§13
In selecting sites, attention must be paid to the availability of sources of off-farm income (fishing, gathering forest products, seasonal wage employment) to complement farm income. […]

§14
Valuation of lost assets should be made at their replacement cost. Compensation is facilitated by …..(b) publicizing among people to be displaced the laws and regulations on valuation and compensation;

§15
Some types of loss, such as access to […] (c) fishing, grazing, or forest areas, cannot easily be evaluated or compensated for in monetary terms. Attempts must therefore be made to establish access to equivalent and culturally acceptable resources and earning opportunities.

§21
All resettlement plans should include an implementation schedule for each activity covering initial baseline and preparation, actual relocation, and post-relocation economic and social activities. The plan should include a target date when the expected benefits to resettlers and hosts would be achieved.