The PLED project seeks to capacitate the LED including FoZ, with the knowledge to mainstream security and protection in their work and establish and empower a Land Environment Defenders Task Force (LEDTAF) pool with expertise in responding to emergency security and strategic needs on land issues in real-time.
The security threats in a rapidly changing working environment for LEDs in Uganda, has compelled a number of actors to quit activism, exit the country, join the perpetrators in the face of injustice and uncertainty. This has been exacerbated by the growing demand for land and other natural resources by politically connected nationals and foreign investors, in the absence of an exhaustive land and environment governance policies. Additionally, this has fueled arbitrary eviction, conflicts and bred a climate of violence against LEDs accelerated by duty bearers and the private sector players.
Partners like FoZ, Witness Radio, NAVODA, BIRUDO, NAPE, and the like, have registered several security incidents including one death (for the case of FOZ) in a bid to protect land and environmental rights. LEDs in the Albertine regions have registered direct attacks, from government authorities, political actors and including the president1 who branded activities of NGOs within the Albertine as “enemies of National Development, and called upon the local authorities in those jurisdictions to bring NGOs to order.
Despite such hostilities, the availability, accessibility and affordability of a sustainable and effective protection program for LEDs is still far from reach both in the Capitals and out of the capitals in Uganda. Albeit the availability of several initiatives by different protection service providers, many members of the LEDs from within and out of the capital city have on different forums referred to the available protection system as ineffective, unsustainable, inaccessible, Elitist centered and not grass root based.
Cognizant of the fact that collective protection corresponds directly to informally constituted grassroots organizations and communities that organize themselves for the defense of their right to land and Environment, DPI wishes to respond to the current attacks against land rights defenders around the country by contributing to a pragmatic approach that aims at broadening and deepening the PLED in Uganda.