18 June 2023

For Ugandan Communities, There Is Resolution, But Not Yet Justice

Press Release: Acknowledging Community’s Agreement while Raising Concerns with World Bank’s Dispute Resolution Service

19 May 2023

[Kampala Uganda] – Witness Radio and Accountability Counsel would like to acknowledge and applaud the Kawaala community in Kampala, Uganda, for their agency and decision-making in signing a recent agreement facilitated by the World Bank’s Dispute Resolution Service. The Kawaala community has faced agonizing threats to their livelihoods and well-being since the Government sought to evict them at the height of the pandemic. With our support, those communities fought for safety and just compensation, culminating in the agreement signed with the Kampala Capital City Authority. We recognize the community’s efforts in navigating a complex process and their commitment to resolving the issues they have faced.

The agreement was signed on 31 May 2023, the last day of the mediation, and in challenging circumstances. While we support the community’s decision to sign the agreement, we feel some concern about the way in which these events played out.

“The Kawaala case experiences provide a timely opportunity for everyone advocating for communities’ justice from all over the world to push and demand for change in the World Bank‘s Dispute Resolution Service (DRS)’s operating rules. These rules should exist to deliver holistic justice to communities negatively impacted by a development project in a mediation process instead of being used to propagate performance appraisals” – Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala – Country Director, Witness Radio

To the best of our knowledge, and as of 19 June 2023, the signed resolution has not been shared with many community members who signed it. Further, the Dispute Resolution Service has refused to share the signed agreement with us, even though Witness Radio and Accountability Counsel are officially named advisors on the case. Community members who engage in a dispute resolution process have the right to representation; the exercise of that right was hampered, in this case, by a lack of transparency in the days leading to, and since, the signing of this agreement.

While right now we are focused on the immediate needs of community members in Kampala, some of whom signed and some of whom didn’t sign the agreement, we remain committed to advocating for the World Bank’s Dispute Resolution Service to improve how it manages case processes in the future. We will share more on this work to guarantee an effective and fair dispute resolution process for communities in due course.

Collectively, we remain dedicated to promoting the rights and well-being of communities impacted by development projects, in Kawaala and beyond. We will continue to stand by the Kawaala community and support their pursuit of justice and fair treatment. We will also continue to advocate for transparent, accountable, and equitable processes to ensure that the voices of affected communities are heard, the issues they raise are fairly redressed, and their rights are protected.

Lastly, we wish to thank and appreciate everyone who supported the Kawaala community, directly and indirectly at different stages of the case. Your support and contributions went a long way to give this community an opportunity to be heard.

[1] Read more about the complaint here
[2] Press Release on Complaint filing ( 8th July 2021)
[3] More information about the World Bank’s support for KIIDP-2, which includes the Lubigi drainage channel, is available here
[4] Dispute Resolution Service Press Release on Agreement

For more information, please contact:

Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala
Country Director
Tel: +256 752 810 079
E-mail: gwssebaggala@gmail.com

Robi Chacha Mosenda
Communities Associate, Africa
Accountability Counsel
Phone: +254 726 235 536
E-mail: robi@accountabilitycounsel.org