Impacts of upstream oil and gas activities on environment, well-being and tourism in the Albertine Region of Uganda: Local community perspectives
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Despite the notion that upstream oil and gas developments come along with externalities, the negative externalities and the overall net benefits are often not given research attention. This study aimed at examining local perspectives on socio-economic, cultural and environmental impacts of upstream oil and gas activities in the Albertine Graben of Uganda. The relationship between upstream oil and gas activities and human well-being, and the impact on tourism were also determined. Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve, Kaiso and Kyehoro villages within Hoima district were purposively selected. Information was obtained by use of household surveys, focus group discussions, key informant interviews and GIS and remote sensing techniques. The data was analyzed using chi-square tests, cross-tabulations, narrative and qualitative content analysis and multi-date post-classification comparison change detection technique using Harris ENVI 5.3 software to detect land cover/land use changes before and after upstream oil and gas activities observed the studied area. Increased businesses, land market, market for agricultural goods and rental houses were the main economic benefits whereas increase in prices of land, goods and house rent were the major economic losses. Under oil and gas development, construction of Kaiso Primary school, Kyehoro health centre and boreholes by Tullow Oil were some of the Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives to improve social service delivery in health and education in the community while changes in socio cultural systems, incidences of intermarriages, incidences of drunkardness, diminished pride in traditional values, conflicts, crime and violence were the main socio cultural losses of oil and gas developments. Noise pollution, soil erosion, wildlife habitat fragmentation and disturbance as well increased human access into the Reserve were the major environmental problems. There was a decrease in Tropical High Forest (THF) Well Stocked, woodland and grassland cover and an increase in Bush land, Subsistence and THF Low Stocked before upstream oil and gas activities. After upstream oil and gas activities, there was a decrease in THF Well Stocked, THF Low stocked, wood land and grassland and an increase in bush land, Subsistence, large scale farming and Built up areas. Construction of the Kaiso-Tonya road positively impacted human well-being through improved access to social services but also led to displacement, noise and air pollution. Increased security, access to basic materials for a good life and health were the main dimensions of human well-being that were affected. Tourists majorly go to Kabwoya wildlife Reserve to see animals and wetlands, specifically, Lake Albert. Improved access to tourist sites, reduced cost of transportation and development of accommodation and restaurant facilities were the major benefits to the tourism industry whereas increased cost of accommodation due to oil drilling crews and auxiliary activities was the major negative impact onto the tourism industry. Construction of Kaiso-Tonya road and exploration negatively affected tourism attractions lead to animal disturbance and increased access into Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve by poachers. These study findings demonstrate that upstream oil and gas activities have led to both negative and positive externalities on the environment, human well being and tourism. In order to minimize or avoid future negative externalities, there is the need to develop local expertise to take advantage of the benefits from the oil and gas sector, there should be a conscious effort by government and oil companies to develop the oil communities through the provision and maintenance of more basic infrastructure and amenities such as public toilets, boreholes, schools and health facilities and ensure environmental remediation for example through tree planting in many of the transformed sites.