Uganda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have drawn increasing levels of investment from multinational corporations in mining, logging, and related extractive projects due to their abundance of natural resources. Development projects often trigger a variety of harmful effects to the environment such as contamination of land and water sources, air pollution, and deforestation while also posing a threat to indigenous groups—like the Maasai, a Nomadic Pastoralists group in of East Africa—and their traditional means of survival. As these projects progress, local communities lack information, agency, and capacity to vocalize and enforce their rights due to limited access to education and the media, an understanding of climate change or environmental degradation, and the long-term impact on their communities.
To address these challenges, ABA ROLI and the ABA Center for Human Rights (CHR) launched a project in the fall of 2022, Enhancing Protection of Environmental Defenders in Africa to support and defend the work of environmental activists in the DRC, Uganda, and Tanzania. The project’s goal is to enhance the capacity of defenders and local communities to safely advocate for greater environmental protection at the national and regional levels. To realize this goal, the project is designed to foster sustainable networks and capacity of EHRDs to enable long term advocacy for the advancement of environmental and human rights, democracy, and the rule of law even after the end of the project. Through this project, ABA ROLI and CHR leads a consortium of five partner organizations: Congolese Alert for the Environment and Human Rights (French, Alerte Congolaise pour l’Environnement et les Droits de l’Homme - ACEDH – DRC); Advocates for Natural Resources and Development (ANARDE – Uganda); DefendDefenders (DD – Uganda); National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRDU – Uganda); and Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT – Tanzania).