‘STRUCK BY MY OWN HANDS’
The two decades of war in northern Uganda was characterized by gross violation of human rights by both the armed forces and rebels. This has had a profound effect onto the civilians’ population. Communities in northern Uganda are still struggling to come to terms with the numerous challenges they experienced and still continue to go through as a result of the conflict.
This war was marred by extreme brutality characterized by abductions, torture, sexual violations, displacements and untold sufferings among victims. Civilians were moved and resettled in the internally displaced people’s camps. Farming was thus abandoned and the people had to survive on the food distributed by the World Food Programme. The forests were inaccessible and civilians risked the wrath of armed forces should they be spotted in the bush.
Soldiers used this opportunity to cut down trees and sell them for timbers. Some investors also seized the moment by paying off the soldiers to offer them protection while cutting down trees in the bush.
By the time the last of the IDP camps closed in 2005, charcoal business was widespread in the region. People came from different parts of the country and bought forest lands for this purpose. Nwoya district, a land with so much vegetation, faces the danger of turning into a semi-arid area as forests are being destroyed in the name of charcoal burning. Heavy trucks can be spotted on the Gulu-Kampala highway so loaded with sucks of charcoal.
Some local NGOs and district officials have tried to intervene but being compromised is inevitable as the business has continued to thrive. The high level of poverty among the locals has made this business the most feasible approach in struggling to provide for their needs. This documentary will give first-hand accounts of the events that take place in Nwoya and how charcoal burning poses a threat to food security in the region.
Alfred Oryem is a freelance documentarian that has been working in the region since 2012 to propel the voices of war victims by documenting community dialogues, engagement with local leaders and advocacy theatre in community spaces. Ultimately this is desired to lead to a national level accountability for widespread and systematic approach through engagements with local leaders and national NGOs to disseminate this information.
To help fund this critical grassroots documentary donate here with the project line stating “Charcoal Burning Documentary”.