The End of the Road

What a close to my final week in Uganda! From Monday to Wednesday, I was traveling around the rapidly-expanding city of Hoima and Lake Albert, which are in the western part of Uganda, to attend a conference on monitoring environmental compliance in the oil and natural gas sectors. This conference brought representatives from dozens of several civil society organizations together with government and oil/natural gas sector officials in an attempt to ensure that all parties involved, most especially marginalized groups, benefit from the recent discovery of Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest untapped oil deposits. However, it often appeared that industry groups and the government sought to limit criticism of extractive activities and their negative impacts on Uganda’s citizens. In our guided tours, we saw much of this. Of the 3 sites that we visited, on buses paid for by Tullow Oil, 2 had been inactive for months and the only active site, Kingfisher Field, we viewed from a distance. This gave valuable insight into some of the issues that Transparency International staff face in promoting an open, productive dialogue between citizens, civil society organizations, government officials, and private industry.

When I returned to the Transparency International office in Kampala on Thursday, I spent what remained of my week doing one-on-one meetings with workshop participants and completing the companion briefing to the report on the initial findings from the Action for Transparency program. While time was limited, so I was not able to have a closing meeting with everyone who had attended workshops over the summer, it was heartening to hear from participants how they intended to use GIS in the creation of maps for reports, blog posts, or social media outreach.

With the conclusion of this internship, I am incredibly grateful to the Charles Center for providing the funding that made it possible. It certainly enriched my college career, enabling me to complement my domestic development experience with field work. Moving forward, that will be invaluable.