In order to standardize the approach to long-term land acquisition and resettlement in the project areas, the three Joint Venture Partners of a petroleum field to be developed in Uganda in collaboration with the local authorities have formulated a Land Acquisition and Resettlement Framework (LARF).
This LARF document proposes a voluntary and consistent approach that is compliant with national legislation, international standards and in particular the International Finance Corporation's (IFC) Performance Standards 5 on Involuntary Resettlement and Land Acquisition, and best practices to further safeguard against social risks.
The process began in May 2014 and the document consolidation was facilitated by establishing the first interministerial Resettlement Advisory Committee (RAC). Following the endorsement of the LARF in December 2016, the RAC is actively monitoring and advising the partners on the development of projects. For each project component, local resettlement committees are set-up at district and village level in order to build capacity and enhance a participative approach at all levels.
The main outcome was a common goal which is "To secure long term access to land to enable the project to be developed and operated, while addressing displacement impacts and enhancing development impacts by improving the livelihoods and standard of living of Project Affected Persons". This LARF document looks at the twelve key principles which are; 1) Displacement to be avoided and minimised where possible, 2) Resettlement to be integrated into overall project planning, 3) Compliance with laws, standards and policies (corporate, national and international), 4) Active and informed stakeholder participation, 5) Cultural appropriateness to be applied, 6) Publicly disclosed cut-off date to be used, 7) Compensation to be based on full replacement cost, 8) Comprehensive resettlement assistance package to be applied, 9) Informal land rights to be recognized, 10) Vulnerable people to be provided with targeted assistance, 11) Grievance mechanism to be established, and 12) An appropriate monitoring and evaluation to be undertaken.
The development of the LARF was a stepping stone for the Government of Uganda when drafting in 2017 the first National Land Acquisition Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy. The participative approach in the development of a common framework is of interest to all who have to deal with various stakeholders including Government to ease and standardize ways of working on sensitive issues while remaining within the remits of the Legislative framework. In addition this process can also be applied in other countries because of the foundation of its purpose and will be useful for the petroleum sector to extractives sector and beyond.