Struggle for/against Uranium in Bahi
The Christian Council of Tanzania, through its Interfaith Relations programs, in collaboration with partners particularly Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and Bread for the World facilitate Peace building and peaceful coexistence for Development in the society. This has been done at the District level.
The goals of the programs have been achieved through training religious leaders on interfaith relations, peace building, conflict transformation, and advocacy on various issues. Then some of the trained religious leaders form District interfaith committees. Interfaith committees play the roles of: Conflict prevention, Conflict mitigation, reconciliation, trauma healing, and supervision of joint developmental activities such as VICOBA; educating the society on peace and peaceful coexistence. Also it does advocacy on crosscutting issues in their society.
Bahi is one of Districts where uranium is found. Uranium exploration has been taking place in the area for about five years now. People had a lot of grievances following the exploration and things associate by it. They were unsure of their health due to exposition of uranium at some of their residences; some pits dug for explorations were left open, there were no information to people about the effects of exposed soil which contains some traces of uranium. Also, people were not aware about those who went to their areas for exploration. As a result residents clashed with the explorers to the extent of the Government sending field force unity troops to manage the conflict. Worse enough some people drank water from the exploration pits and some of water from open pits was used for irrigation in their farms. Cases of health problems such
Despite a lot of resistance and threats from the District Commissioner to anybody who go to talk to Bahi people about uranium, last year we managed to train religious leaders in Bahi in peace building and advocacy on one hand and on the other hand, the report on Uranium exploration done by NCA was presented to them. This was an eye opener to committee members which enabled them to address the volatile situation in the area. First the committee members calmed their people through their sermons in their worshipping housed while it was seeking audience with the District leadership. Hence, peace prevails in the area.
After about eight months of waiting, on July 4, 2014 the committee managed to meet with all the top District Government officials to address the volatile situation. The officials who met with the committee included District Commissioner, District Administration Secretary, District Development Director, District land Officer and District Planning Officer. The committee advocated for information and education on uranium and its exploration in the area to be given to people. Also, they demanded assurance of people’s right on land ownership in case they are told to leave the area for uranium mining to take place.
After the round table discussions between interfaith committee members and the District Government officials the Government officials agreed to inform people of what is going on in the area. The DC asked religious leaders to prepare open air meetings where she and other officials can go and talk to people. Also, she asked the interfaith committee to write the Prime minister concerning people’s demands and grievances that she will give it to the Primer as evidence when she meets him. Lastly she acknowledged the contribution of the interfaith committee in peace building and peaceful coexistence and decided to financially enable it to form interfaith committees in other levels in the entire District. Therefore, Bahi interfaith committee managed to transform underground conflict between people and their Government through talking to people and the Government respectively.
By Rev. Dr. Kopwe, W.A.Z
Program Officer: Interfaith Relations and ecumenism
The Christian Council of Tanzania