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In September 2011, Oxfam profiled a land deal in Uganda in which villagers were being evicted to make way for timber plantations. Now, the Mubende community has signed a Final Agreement with the New Forests Company (NFC), concluding nearly 15 months of negotiations that were facilitated by the Office of ComplianceAdvisor/Ombudsman (CAO). The CAO handles complaints from communities affected by investments made by the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank.
Oxfam welcomes that an agreement has been reached through mediation. As part of this agreement, NFC will contribute funds into a community-run cooperative that has been set-up by the Mubende community. NFC will also implement development projects to benefit the affected community. The community remains far from restoring its livelihoods but the outcome of the mediation process provides a basis for community members to start to rebuild their lives.
"I am optimistic about the future but this will depend on how soon we are able to get land. At the moment we are not farming or raising animals but I am hopefulthat through the co-operative we will be able to buy land and move forward," said Emmanuel Bagibariho, a community representative from Mubende who was part of the team that negotiated the agreement on behalf of the affected community.
Oxfam has been providing support to the Mubende community throughout the CAO mediation process, and we commend the eight community representatives who worked tirelessly to get the best possible deal that they could through this process. We will work with Mubende community members so that they can quickly develop the new cooperative as a means to improving their livelihoods.
Oxfam is also continuing to support and advise a second community from neighboring Kiboga district. This community is in a separate mediation process, also facilitated by CAO, with NFC. We are hopeful that the Kiboga community’s discussions with NFC could also lead to an agreement between the company and the community.
If you would like more information, you can read the CAO’s report about the Mubende mediation.