Multi Stakeholder Forums
The Genesis of Maendeleo ya Jamii’s Multi-Stakeholder Forums on Oil & Gas in Uganda
Maendeleo ya Jamii’s multi-stakeholder forums (MSFs) form part of an extraordinary journey that began in October 2012. This journey started with a qualitative assessment of the interactions between different stakeholder groups within Uganda’s Albertine Region where there have been discoveries of oil and natural gas.
The Community-Company Assessment (CCA) methodology was adopted to assess the often complex interactions between community, company, local government, and central government stakeholder groups, with a focus on understanding the barriers and benefits associated with oil and gas activities in 30 villages across 7 districts. The outcome of this assessment brought to light hundreds of barriers and their unique manifestations in each of these communities. These individual barriers and their unique contexts were carefully analysed and consolidated into 15 categories.
Further analysis showed that of the 15 barrier categories, stakeholder engagement was the only category that was considered a barrier by all the project stakeholder groups including central government and company. Another prominent barrier category was information and communication.
Following the assessment, another effort was taken to establish a baseline of stakeholder engagement perceptions. Using the stakeholder engagement spectrum as a tool, the perceptions among the four stakeholder groups was assessed and analysed. The findings revealed very interesting disparities between each stakeholder group regarding the perceived quality of their engagement.
The MYJ Multi-Stakeholder Forums are a focused attempt to build relationships and address these very important barriers, while also dealing with the other issues.
Principles of the MSFs
At the end of the CCA and before the inaugural MSF, a significant amount of time was invested in planning, with a deliberate emphasis on ensuring that each district MSF addresses issues of primary concern to its stakeholders.
Each district MSF seeks to understand the needs, concerns and expectations of its stakeholders and is purposefully designed to operate on the following principles:
- Recognizing the unique role of each stakeholder
- Understanding that all stakeholders are equally important
- Engaging each other with mutual respect and trust
- Listening to one another and speaking in an open and effective way
- Working towards mutually beneficial outcomes and leaving no one behind
- Documenting and sharing of information in a transparent manner
- Responding and following through on commitments effectively
Structure and composition of the forums
Each forum consists of 20-30 individual stakeholders (depending on the number of villages represented in the forum) with more than half being community representatives. Particular consideration is made to ensure the inclusiveness of women and youth, not just in terms of participation, but also in terms of the issues raised and addressed.
The first three MSFs in each district were comprised of representatives from community and local government stakeholder groups. Each community carefully nominated two individuals that they knew would ably represent their interests in the forum. Likewise, each district local government nominated a blend of technical and political representatives to the forum. This initial composition allowed community and their local government to build trust among themselves and to work progressively towards understanding, articulating, and addressing issues that were within their own means to resolve.
The remaining forums have been opened up to other participants including representatives from the private sector, civil society and central government stakeholder groups.
The Forums are ably facilitated by the staff of Maendeleo ya Jamii (MYJ). MYJ’s facilitation of the forums in Arua, Nebbi and Nwoya has been supported by Eddy Nam of the Nebbi NGO Forum. Its facilitation of the forums in Kanungu and Rukungiri has been supported by Obadiah Arihaihi of the Kanungu NGO Forum. MYJ has also occasionally been supported by Jamie van Alstine, Laura Cota, and Jen Dyer of the University of Leeds.
Maendeleo ya Jamii (MYJ) would like to thank the communities, local governments, and central government participants. MYJ would also like to thank the Kanungu District NGO Forum and the Nebbi District NGO Forum for providing the project team with the necessary local context and contacts to make these forums successful. The organisation would also like to thank the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, and the Office of the President for supporting this project through their necessary authorization and participation in its activities. Also, appreciation is given to the University of Leeds for their active participation in the processes that lead to the development of the Multi-Stakeholder Forums. This work was made possible through the generous support of the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF). MYJ thanks DFG for their continued support and partnership.