The Requesters alleged that the project will deprive communities of access to “farm land” where they claim they have had traditional or customary tenure. They further alleged that the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the project’s implementing agency, has harassed communities in the past by evicting community members, “grabbing” their land, denying communities access to water and other resources, and intimidating them. They claimed that the project, by working with UWA, has exacerbated and legitimized these alleged abuses. They also alleged that the project failed to adequately identify these risks during stakeholder consultations. The Requesters also raised concerns that the project will deepen conflicts between UWA and the local communities over land issues. They asserted that these conflicts will result in acts of retaliation against community members who are opposing the “land grabbing” activities. As a community, they objected to the project’s use of land, which they claim is theirs, and asked that the World Bank put in place measures to ensure the project does not pose any immediate or long-term risk to their lives or livelihoods.
After conducting its due diligence, the Panel on November 29, 2021, issued a Notice of Non-Registration due to the absence of a plausible link between the harm alleged in the Request and the Bank-financed project. The Panel noted that the project is providing small grant funding for livelihood-related activities and involves no land acquisition. The Panel also observed that the area where the project activities are planned has been disputed by the Requesters for many years and that there are ongoing legal processes in the High Court of Uganda at Fort Portal taking place in relation to this matter.