The United States Ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac has asked the Ugandan government to be mindful of environmental and social factors as they explore the oil in the Albertine Rift of western Uganda.
Ambassador Malac noted that the discovery of a petroleum reserve in that area has created a lot of economic opportunities but also a lot of challenges for environmental management and biodiversity conservation.
“If the exploitation of natural resources like petroleum is not managed wisely and for the benefit of all people, Uganda risks facing the ‘resource curse’ including corruption, conflict, economic distortion and environmental destruction,” she said.
Malac added: “I ask the government of Uganda to be very careful, especially when the actual extraction of oil begins in 2020. Uganda should act as a good example on how natural resources can benefit an economy without causing more harm.”
The ambassador was speaking at the review summit for the environmental management for oil sector activity which took place at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Tuesday.
The meeting was convened to appreciate as well as recognize the efforts of USAID and its partners in ensuring Uganda is prepared to manage and mitigate the impacts of petroleum development on the environment and biodiversity.
For the last four years, USAID has been working with government agencies and institutions like Makerere University, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), National Environment and Management Authority (NEMA) and Nyabyeya Forestry College in building capacity through training.
The ambassador urged the government to continue supporting these organizations so that the work USAID started doesn’t go to waste.
“Uganda’s natural wealth is central to the government vision of becoming a middle income country but this advancement should not be at the expense of future generation who will continue to depend on biodiversity and other natural resources for their livelihood,” she advised.